What is tallow and what is it used for?
Tallow is a traditional cooking fat with a high smoke point, which makes it great for frying food. Did you know McDonald’s used to fry their french fries in beef tallow?! I totally wish they still did. This versatile fat isn’t limited to just frying foods, it can also be used to saute with and is a great oil for making soap and other beauty products. Healthy tallow can be purchased at the store/online or made right at home.
With a quick google search, it looks like 14oz of grass fed tallow can be purchased for just over $12.00 online. I can make the same amount for about $2.50, so it’s definitely cheaper for me to make at home. It’s also one of the easiest things to make!
Tallow is made from suet. Suet is the white, firm fat around a cows kidneys. This nutrient dense slab of fat is then cut into pieces and rendered on low heat until the tallow is melted away from the suet.
What’s left is called crackling.
Save these tasty bits!! Add some salt and enjoy! These are also great on baked potatoes or salads instead of bacon bits or croutons.
It takes about 6-8 hours on low to render tallow. Once finished, the crackling is strained out using a fine mesh strainer. If you don’t plan to use the tallow up somewhat quickly (within a week or two), its best to strain through cheesecloth to make sure you get every tiny piece of solid material. If its strained properly, tallow can be stored on the counter for quite a while (months). It can also be stored in the refrigerator for a longer shelf life. I usually go through my tallow rather quickly, so I don’t mess with the cheesecloth. I pour my tallow into pint sized mason jars (2 cup jars) and keep 1 in the fridge and 1 on the counter.
For this recipe, you will need:
- 2 pounds pasture raised suet
- Instant pot with slow cook feature (this is what I use and LOVE!) or any slow cooker
- Fine mesh strainer
- Metal funnel
- Mason jars for storage
- Cut the suet into small pieces. Pasture raised suet can be found from local butchers or farm co-ops. Go here to find a farmer near you that produces pasture raised beef and more! A food processor or meat grinder could be used here, but I don’t like cleaning suet off my food processor or meat grinder. In my opinion, its just easier to chop with a good knife on a cutting board. It look me between 5 and 10 minutes to chop just over 2 pounds of suet, pictured below.
- Place chopped suet into your instant pot or slow cooker and turn on low. I like to come back every 15 minutes and stir to make sure nothing is burning. I haven’t had a problem with burning suet yet, but I still like to be sure everything is ok. Once it starts to liquefy, I just leave it alone for a few hours.
- After about 6 or 8 hours on the slow cook setting of my instant pot, its done! I let mine cool for a few minutes so I could touch the stainless steel insert without getting burned. Alternatively, I could have just used oven mits, but I wasn’t in a big hurry. For the next step, I poured the liquid tallow through a fine mesh strainer on top of a funnel into a clean mason jar. You should get about 2 cups (1 pint) of liquid tallow for every pound of suet rendered.
- Once strained, pop a lid on the jar and you’re good to go! The liquid tallow will soon become a solid white color similar to the way coconut oil does at room temperature, though tallow is more firm than coconut oil.
How to Render Tallow
- 2 to 2 1/2 pounds beef suet pasture raised
- instant pot with slow cooker feature or a slow cooker
- fine mesh strainer
- cheese cloth optional
- metal funnel
- 2 pint sized mason jars or 1 quart size
Cut suet into small chunks using knife, food processor or meat grinder
Add suet to instant pot or slow cooker and turn on low.
Render for 6 to 8 hours, stirring a few times in the first hour to make sure suet is not burning.
Strain cracking from liquid suet using fine mesh strainer and cheesecloth, if using.
Put a lid on the jars and leave on the counter until cooled and has turned white.
If you aren't planning on using the tallow within a couple weeks, I would recommend using the cheesecloth inside of the metal strainer. This assures that there are no solids left in the tallow that could cause it to spoil quicker.