Tallow is hands down my favorite traditional fat to use for frying. I like it even more than lard. It is ideal for this purpose as it has less than 3% polyunsaturated fats. This amount is just a bit less than coconut oil.
What’s more, if your tallow comes from cattle finished on grass or given grain for a very short period of time (a few weeks at the most) before processing, a good share of those polyunsaturates are in the form of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). This fatty acid helps builds muscle, assists with weight loss and drastically reduces cancerous tumor risk. These are just a few of the many health benefits.
The majority of beef tallow is approximately 55% saturated fats and 40% monounsaturated fats which are both very heat stable and do not easily produce free radicals when heated, unlike liquid vegetable oils.
Beef Tallow: Not Just Any Fat
Tallow is not just any old beef fat, however. It is the rendered form of suet, which is the nutrient-rich beef or mutton fat found around the organs, particularly the kidneys. It is the highly prized nourishing fat used in pemmican, a traditional food used by Native Americans to survive harsh winters. Sometimes they subsisted on nothing else for weeks on end with no loss in health.
Traditionally made pemmican includes tallow in a 1:1 ratio with dried and powdered, ideally, grass-fed muscle meat. It is the ultimate survival food.
Besides CLA, another notable fat that is present in high amounts in beef tallow is palmitoleic acid, which is highly anti-viral and anti-bacterial. So fire up those healthy french fries on your stovetop using beef tallow. During cold and flu season, the consumption of plenty of beef tallow will help keep you well.
Please note that tallow is solid at room temperature and keeps well in the pantry. However, I choose to refrigerate as this is my personal preference here in hot, humid Florida. In my experience, rendered beef tallow will keep many months – even years – in the refrigerator.
How to Render Tallow
If learning how to render this most nourishing of traditional fats is of interest to you, the recipe below instructs you on how to render beef tallow from an intact piece of suet straight from a local, grass-based farmer.
If after reviewing the recipe and viewing the demo video you decide that making tallow is not for you, know that you can now buy quality grass-fed tallow (vetted sources). This is a wonderful turn of events as quality tallow was not commercially available until recently.
Rendering tallow is a simple process similar to rendering lard. Start to finish, the video demonstration included with the recipe below shows you exactly what you need to know to produce several jars full of tallow.
Render Tallow Recipe
The traditional method for rendering tallow from an intact piece of suet that you can obtain from a pastured farmer.
- 1 intact piece of suet preferably grassfed
Take an intact piece of suet and cut into medium to small pieces. Remove the kidney and set aside.
Place the suet pieces in a large pan.
Place pan in an oven preheated to 175-200 °F/ 79-93 °C
Every hour or so, remove pan and pour off melted tallow. Sieve through a cheesecloth to remove any tissue.
Continue process until all the fat has rendered. This will take a few hours. Tallow is quite yellow when it is liquid.
Pour strained tallow into glass mason jars after it has cooled. Screw on the lids and refrigerate. As it hardens in the fridge, tallow turns a whitish beige color. Tallow will keep for many months.