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November 30, 2015

How to Render Tallow

When we took our steer to the butcher, I asked for the fat to be included in our order. Most folks don't ask for the fat from their animals, but we brought home four bags of suet to be turned into tallow.

How to render tallow

I stuck the bags in the freezer until I had time to deal with it, and eventually I took an afternoon to render one of the bags into clean tallow for cooking and soapmaking. I use tallow to fry foods; it contains a little less than 3% polyunsaturated fats, just a bit lower than coconut oil and is much better for you than vegetable oils.

If you are going to purchase beef fat to render, look for grass-fed beef.

First I cut the big pieces of fat into small pieces so they would cook out more quickly. Next time I'll let the fat thaw before I start the project; it would be much easier to cut.

Pot of rendering beef fat

The bag contained so much fat that I had to use my two largest pots. I added some water to the pots and brought it to a slow boil, then turned down the heat and let it simmer for several hours.

Deep golden liquid tallow

One pot was obviously done first - the solid fat had disappeared, and in its place was golden yellow liquid fat. The second pot took longer and stayed a lighter, translucent yellow.

liquid tallow rendered from beef fat

I poured the contents of each pot through a strainer and into tall glass containers. Be very careful doing this; the hot fat can burn you much worse than boiling water.

Then I put the containers in the refrigerator to cool overnight. Even though one batch had deeper colored fat, they both hardened to the same white color.

Cleaned, rendered tallow

By the next day the fat had congealed on top, and I could separate the thick layer of solid fat from the little bit of water on the bottom. I gave the bottom a quick rinse with hot water and put the hard fat in a bag in the freezer.

Clean, rendered tallow for soapmaking

NOTE: Be careful when you clean your pots and utensils. Hot fat poured down your drain will congeal and stop up your plumbing.

If you think your tallow needs to be a bit cleaner - sometimes it will smell of cooked meat, for instance, or the bottom portion of the chunk will look a bit dirty - you can separate the solid fat from the water, add it back to the pot with fresh water, melt it and strain it again. It doesn't take long to redo it, just enough to melt the solid fat and then let it harden again in the refrigerator.

This one afternoon's work netted me 3.5 pounds of rendered tallow. It's the whitest of white, smooth and hard, absolutely beautiful chunks.

Tallow will last nearly forever in the refrigerator or freezer. You can also pour hot tallow into canning jars and let them cool, then keep them in the pantry. Label and date each container so the oldest ones are used first.

My next project is to render several large bags of fat from our pigs into lard, using the same method.

This post has been shared at some of my favorite blog hops.


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  1. Girl, get out of my head! We made cube steak and french fries Monday night and I remarked to my husband that since our lard was getting low, I needed to render my beef suet soon! I guess your post is a reminder!!
    Merry Christmas!

    1. How funny, Angie! Honestly, I haven't been stalking you. Hope you get around to it soon.

  2. Great article, Kathi, thank you. We have pig fat in the freezer that needs to be rendered, but I've never done it before. I've been looking at that bag thinking winter would be a good time to give it a try. Thanks again.


  3. You're welcome, Fern. Winter is an excellent time; rendering fat can help warm up the house. I have pig fat to do too.

  4. My grandmother used to render tallow from their lambs and then make it into creams for me for my extremely dry skin.

    Thanks for sharing on

  5. I'm sure they were really creamy and left your skin very soft!

  6. This is on my to do lists!!
    Thanks for sharing your tutorial :)

  7. You're welcome, Sandra. It's very easy to do, although a bit time-consuming.

  8. Instead of putting the rendered hot tallow in the fridge, I have mine in some stainless steel stock pots and just set them outside to cool overnight. That's why I wait to render until winter. It's much easier since we don't really have enough fridge space for us now, and a big batch of hot stuff really warms up the fridge.

    I also wait for cold weather to cook the beef bones in big batches of broth. It cools down much easier outside so I can remove the solidified fat on top. (and save to render for soap, etc.)

  9. Jody, what a great idea! I've always limited how much I render at once for that very reason: fitting it in the refrigerator overnight.

    I have outside dogs and cats so it wouldn't work for me to set them outside, even with a lid on the pot. However, my unheated mudroom would work just fine. Thank you for the tip.

  10. Great way to use every part of the animal! Thanks for sharing at My Flagstaff Home!


  11. Wow! This was very informative! Thank you for sharing.

  12. You're welcome, Ginger.

  13. How long will it last in a canning jar? Seems time consuming but well worth it! Thanks for sharing the tute!

  14. I haven't tried keeping it in a canning jar in the pantry, but from what I've read it lasts several years. While it is time-consuming, it's mostly "babysitting", just keeping an eye on it until it's done. Yes, it's definitely worth doing.

  15. I was so interested to read this post, Kathi! We use suet in a popular Christmas dessert over here in the UK - Christmas pudding - but I've never really thought much about its other uses. Although I probably won't have the occasion to render tallow myself, I really learned a lot from your post. I've pinned it as many of my readers are homesteaders and I know they will find it incredibly helpful too. Thank you so much for being a part of the Hearth and Soul Hop.

  16. I just learned something too, April: that suet is used in Christmas pudding. I'm going to have to google for the recipe now and learn more about it. Thank you for Pinning the post.


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