Rendering our suet into tallow

Had two marathon suet rendering days here this week, last week, a couple weeks ago, LAST MONTH, lol… Yeah. That’s how it’s been around here. Start writing a post one day and the next thing you know it’s over 30 days later! 😦

We rendered suet (fat around the kidney) a couple years ago, when we made tallow filled birdfeeder logs. But it was a messy job that no one was very fond of. So we weren’t gonna mess with it anymore – EXCEPT I kept hearing & reading about how healthy tallow from grass-fed beef is! It’s not just for the birds, lol… πŸ™‚

Anyways…

Every time we take a beef in to get butchered, we get all the suet – the fat from around the kidney. (Why? Oh, because deep down, we want to be more efficient with what we have… But we are s-l-o-w learners!) After awhile, all that fat takes up a lot of freezer space (duh), lol… So getting these big awkward chunks of suet out has been nice. πŸ™‚

Day #1, we rendered these four bags: a little over 45 pounds. πŸ™‚

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Day #2 my 3 boys weren’t available to help, so my dear friend, Angie, came down & we rendered another 65 lbs. BLESS HER HEART! πŸ™‚

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And it was cool how this task fit in perfectly with our health lessons for school. πŸ™‚ Coordinated well with studying about why we’ve chosen to try to consume less corn/processed foods, avoid trans fats, and eat more of the natural, saturated fats. Here’s a link to a great flier from the Weston A. Price Foundation: All About Trans Fats, and here’s a link to the health textbook we are using: Real Food Nutrition & Health.

Here are several of the sites I used for my research of tallow & the rendering process. Click on their names to go to their articles: realfoodforager.com and gnowfglins.com and nourishingdays.com and theprairiehomestead.com.

This post will walk you through our journey, and hopefully by the end, we’ll have a confirmed method. πŸ™‚

Since: the smaller the pieces of suet, the quicker the fat will “melt”, we first ran cut-up pieces of fat through the meat grinder attachment on our mixer.Β  (This is howΒ  we did it a couple years ago.) But it was really hard on the mixer after just a few batches, so we decided to stop since we had such a large quantity to render. (All the suet was partially thawed, because it’s easier to cut it when it’s more firm.)

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Then we tried using our 17-year-old electric knife. After a few slices, it started to smell like it was burning up, so we stopped using it as well. 😦

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Then we cut chunks with a regular old knife and I just used my hands to pull it into smaller pieces. It worked just fine (for me)… My 3 boys were less than thrilled at this option, lol… Yes, this is a GREASY, DIRTY JOB!

{Speaking of “greasy” – Cleanup from this process requires SUPER HOT WATER and preferably, lye soap. And I say that because we have both lye soap & a generic dish liquid that we used during cleanup. Hands down, my homemade Alander’s Acres lye soap cut through the grease soooo much better than the other stuff! :)}

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Has a neat membrane-type “wrap” around the fat that you try to pull off. Once that gets pulled away, it’s pretty easy to pull the fat out.

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And then we used the food processor & pulsed batches just until it was “crumbled”. We found that filling the food processor HALF full was better than full like the pic below shows. πŸ™‚

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For Day #1, we borrowed our friends’ turkey fryer & just kept adding crumbles into the pot. It worked nice because it was a huge pot & it kept the distinctive smell OUTSIDE… πŸ™‚

But for Day #2, we used our stovetop since it was a rainy day. It worked fine, but outside rendering is definitely our preferred method. πŸ™‚

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Each cat got it’s own personal stash of scraps, lol. Next time, we’ll have to give them smaller batches – they were full for DAYS after this and didn’t even come to the barn for milk each day… I see why this is fed to the Ididerod sledding dogs in Alaska! πŸ™‚

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Stirred it every-so-often…

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After a good 6 hours of rendering, it was finally done as the solids went to the bottom. Next step would be to strain it into jars. *KEY NOTE* Tallow will strain better/quicker if it is HOT. This was not a problem with the turkey fryer batch – we got it all strained before it cooled. Not-so-much with the Day #2 batch. Definitely didn’t have it hot enough for long enough, so it was more of a messy chore “fixing” it. Lesson learned! πŸ™‚

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Strained best through a thin, muslin cloth…

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It didn’t take long, and the tallow solidified at room temp. It was neat to watch it change. Day #1’s batch all went into glass quart jars. Ran out of lids for jars, so Day #2’s batch went into one gallon plastic lidded buckets. I keep the tallow I use in my cupboard at room temp. The rest are in the fridge & freezer. We’ve shared some as gifts, and are hopeful this will be another product-line our customers are interested in. We are continually amazed at how the Lord opens new doors for us as He provides for our daily needs! πŸ™‚

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I’m gonna be honest here. My boys were NOT THRILLED about this project. Namely, because of the smell. And I’m not sure if it didn’t bother me because I already knew of the health benefits, so I was already poised to like it no-matter-what…? I mean, YES, it’s a distinctive “beefy” smell, but even Angie didn’t think it was too bad on Day #2… Though, she was already pre-biased, too, lol… πŸ™‚

My boys asked that I NOT tell them when I cook with it.Β  Soooo, I didn’t (for awhile). THAT was a bit challenging, as they are in and out of the kitchen VERY often.Β  But, I’m happy to report they are officially converted. πŸ™‚Β Guess that’s a benefit to this post taking so long to publish – I’ve had lots of time to “play” with my tallow! πŸ™‚ The biggest test, was using it in our sourdough crackers and tortillas.Β  Each batch uses 105g (1/2c) of saturated fat.Β  Normally, I use coconut oil. But if they turned out the same using tallow, OH MY, that would save us A LOT in off-farm purchases.Β  AND THE VERDICT:Β  SUCCESS!!Β  Worked like a charm. Very cool. AND, I’ve told the boys, AND they’ve accepted it. (Probably helped that I didn’t tell them until AFTER they had scarfed down eaten several batches and had complimented me on how good they tasted!) πŸ™‚

We’ve fried potatoes in it, cooked our eggs in it, grease our baking stones with it – basically anywhere I used to use coconut oil, I now use tallow.Β  Except in a pie crust. They say it makes a beautiful crust, but I haven’t tried that yet.Β  Pie is one of Mike’s favorites (and the poor guy hardly ever gets one, lol…), so I don’t know that I’ll experiment with that substitution yet. Sure would hate for him not to like it as much, and then not get another one for awhile! πŸ™‚Β  Oh, and our toothpaste – I’m gonna stick with coconut oil for that recipe, too.Β  Perhaps someday I’ll get that post up… [sigh] πŸ™‚

After reading this article about how wonderful tallow is for your skin, Angie & I experimented with a tiny batch of tallow balm. We added some olive oil and some of her therapeutic grade essential oils to it, and it is WONDERFUL. It smells amazing (lavender & tea tree oils), and feels great on our skin! It is definitely a “balm” – not super squishy like a lotion, but once it’s rubbed on the skin, body temp “melts” it and it becomes easier to spread. Definitely something I’d like to do more experimenting with – in my free time – [sigh], lol! πŸ™‚

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And yes, the birds are happier now around here.Β  We re-filled their log feeders just in time for this week’s snow storm! πŸ™‚

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Here’s my final “numbers”: Our tallow yield was 60% of the weight of the suet chunks. After two 9 hour days of working in rendering about 110 pounds of suet, we got about 66 pounds of tallow. Each quart jar fits about 1.6 pounds of tallow and each 1 gallon bucket fits about 7.5 pounds of tallow. Pricing: $12/Q of finished tallow, or $48/gallon of finished tallow, or for those adventurous folks who wanna try their own hand at rendering grass-fed suet: $3/pound of suet. πŸ™‚

4 thoughts on “Rendering our suet into tallow

  1. Diane Sanor

    I was blessed to be gifted the tallow last week!! Oh Dawn and family what a gift of love now that I read and saw the work!! The last 1# of crackers I bought made with tallow held up a week, thought this last 1# I got last Wed would last us. Umm, it is just myself and hubby…will be gone by the end of the week! And yes potatoes, eggs and even did our popcorn in half tallow and half coconut oil was SO yummy!!!! Next time we have popcorn we are going to try all tallow!
    Many blessings!
    Diane and Roger

    Reply
    1. Dawn Roberts Post author

      Oh I’m sooo glad to hear this! Always fun to hear how others use it & enjoy it. We continue to pray the Lord will bring more healing through it to you and your family. πŸ™‚

      And we made our first batch of toothpaste using your coconut oil gift – WOW – it has a hint of coconut flavor to it! (Our other brand didn’t.) We love it! πŸ™‚

      Reply

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