Oh, how to find eloquent enough words to describe the slightly repugnant process of rendering tallow?
First off, let’s begin with what tallow is. Tallow is the rendered fat that surrounds the kidneys, sometimes referred to as leaf lard, in an animal such as a cow or pig. Once rendered, the fat is very similar to lard in appearance and functionality in the kitchen and has a high smoke point. Which makes tallow an ideal candidate for deep-frying foods, like french fries. In fact, according to Wikipedia, McDonald's used tallow to fry it's world famous french fries until the early 90's when the no-fat fad became the newest obsession.
Some people use unrendered tallow as suet or food for birds. If you render the lard, as described below, it's referred to as tallow, which can be used in cooking because it is a rich source of CLA fat, an anti-cancer fighting agent. Terrific! Bring on the tallow!
According to www.beeftallow.com: Tallow is an excellent source of niacin, vitamins B6, B12, K2, selenium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and riboflavin. Grassfed beef tallow contains high ratio of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a cancer-resistant agent. Contrary to the popular conception, tallow is good for health as tallow fat is similar to the fat/muscles in the heart. Recent studies have shown that human beings need at least 50% of saturated fats like tallow and lard to keep the heart pumping hale and healthy. Tallow from pasture-raised cows also contains a small amount of Vitamin D, similar to lard.
Next time you’re processing a cow make sure to have the butcher save the leaf lard, or fat surrounding the kidneys. To make your own tallow, first, chop your fat - sounds fun doesn't it? I used the fat of 1 cow - about 8 pounds of suet total. You'll need a sharp knife with a longish blade. The cutting board is going to take on a, ahem, shall we say greasy patina.. Don't worry - it'll wash off, but I'd advise against using a porous cutting board. The smaller the chop, the better the rendering. Aim for 1” cubes. When you’re chopping try to remove as much of any remaining tendons in the lard.
Now, throw your chopped offal AKA, entrails of a butchered animal, into a big oven-proof pot. Preheat your oven to 375ºF and get ready to have your house smell like slightly burnt cow fat. It's alright. Your family won't mind. They surely will notice the plumes of smoke coming from the oven asking: "Mom? What's going on in the kitchen?" You will try to torture them by assuring them it's just supper cooking, and not to worry.
After the offal cooks for about an hour and a half you'll check on it and to see what looks like State Fair Cheese Curds! Pierce these with a sharp object to release all deliciousness. When you’re done rendering, save these crispy bits to eat like cracklin’.
Strain your hot oil into a large vessel and quickly pour into wide mouth jars, or some other air tight vessel. The tallow sets up quickly, so you want to move fast. Tallow will keep under refrigeration for up to 6 months and frozen up to 1 year.
Purchase suet to render to tallow here - https://grassfedcattleco.com/collections/grass-fed-beef/products/tallow-package
To learn more about Becki take a look at https://theabundantkitchenshop.com.