I know what you’re thinking.
Why the hell would I want to render fat? A few years back I started using tallow cream for my skin once I realized how amazing it is! In the past I’ve purchased rendered fat and made homemade tallow cream. But since our family recently bought a cow and ended up with a lot of fat trimmings now I can render the fat myself. First to backtrack, what is tallow, where does it come from and why should you use it?
What is Rendered Fat and Tallow?
Tallow is what is left after rendering fat. Fat can come from any ruminant animal and depending on what animal you have depends on the type of fat you have. Suet and tallow comes from cows, lard comes from pigs, duck fat from ducks and schmaltz from chickens. Just to name a few.
Once the process of rendering is complete your final product is called tallow. Tallow by tradition has been used for hundreds of years in soap and candle making. The tallow and animal fats have many uses in making products such as candles and creams as well as being used as cooking oils. Before the introduction of seed oils and highly processed vegetable oils, lard was the prefered choice for cooking. Once Crisco came on the market in 1911 lard was slowly discarded and forgotten. You can read more about that here if you’re interested in learning more.
However this blog post will tackle the homemade dry process of rendering fat. Things you will need are a crockpot, fat trimmings from desired animal, glass jars and cheesecloth or any cotton or linen fabric. Let’s go started!
Rendering Fat 101
So if tallow is the final product of rendering fat, how do you actually render the fat? There are many different methods to rendering fat from dry to wet, slow cooker to stove top. Rendering fat is most commonly made in commercial grade factories for many industrial materials. Without a doubt for the sake of simplicity you can also render fat at home with minimal effort.
In fact not many people actually realize how much animal by products are actually used in their day to day life. Below is a table showing the many industrial uses for fat. Just to name a few.
The process of rendering fat means to cook it for a long period of time over a low heat to separate the protein from the water content. What you will be left with is pure fat that is no longer attached to connective tissue, blood vessels or any other materials. From this comes pure fat which you can use for cooking or making skincare products like whipped tallow cream. More on that later!
Before you start you will have to trim the fat yourself. Most importantly make sure you trim off all the connective tissue around the fat. These can be extra bits of meat or connective tissue. I save these extra bits for my dog. As a side note feeding the dog extra fat along with her raw diet has also improved her skin and her coat as well. Not only is she healthier but her coat shines like never before. Fat truly is a marvel of nature!
How to render fat at home
- Step 1: Trim your fat into 1 inch pieces or smaller to make it easier to render once in the crockpot
- Step 2: Set crockpot on LOW heat for 8-12 hours depending on how much fat you have (Side note: I actually rendered my fat for 48 hours as I had roughly 3 lbs to begin with so it took a while)
- Step 3: Filter the fat through a cheesecloth into glass jars
- Step 4: Cool and store in glass jar containers. Use as needed for cooking, candle or soap making or tallow cream. Stored tallow can kept for 5-6 months or 12 months if frozen.
- Step 5: Make cracklings with leftover fat
The fat, the whole fat, and nothing but rendered fat
Although we live in a world where accessibility to products is quicker and easier than ever before nothing compares to creating something yourself. Through years of human evolution we have mastered the art of omission. Too many don’t care or know where their products come from as long as they are able to have them. Undoubtedly still the art of creating and being able to make something from nothing is stimulating. You no longer have to guess what you are putting into a product, you are fully in control of it’s certainty.
Many products on the market today have too many fillers and not enough natural ingredients. Animal fat is the purest and most natural ingredient on this planet. Nothing compares in terms of availability, affordability and sustainability. Not to mention it is the most raw ingredient you can get. Though some will argue for animal welfare a world without ruminant animals would not be possible. But that’s a whole other topic…
Have you been inkling to try and make it yourself? Or perhaps you’ve tried an easier method?
meraki [may-rah-kee] (adjective) word used to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be