In the real food kitchen nothing is wasted. Fats like suet, lard, and bacon grease all have a purpose, whether it be to render them into liquids for soaps and balms or for use in frying, making pie crusts, or other cooking and baking projects.
Suet is beef fat. When it is heated down into liquid form and turn allowed to harden it is called tallow. The best beef fat to use for tallow is from pasture-raised, organic cows. Toxins are stored in the fat of an animal so you want to be sure you are using clean, good quality fat.
Beef tallow from grass-fed cows contains CLA. CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) is a substance that has anti-cancer properties and many other health benefits. It has been shown in studies to protect against cancerous breast tumors. Because it has a high smoke point it is an ideal fat to fry with. Tallow is also high in vitamins A and D. It is a healthy fat that should not be feared.
My favorite way to render tallow is in the crock pot. This way I can leave it and not worry about it until it is done. Tallow can also be prepared in the oven or on the stove top. If the suet isn’t chopped up and while it’s cold and easier to handle, take the extra time to cut it into small pieces. It makes the rendering process much faster.
Once the suet is chopped, place it into the crock pot.
Turn the crock pot on low and allow suet to cook down into an oil. You will see bits of meat and gristle rise to the top and liquid on the bottom.
When all the fat has turned into liquid, strain the fat through a cheesecloth-lined mesh colander. This will insure only the liquid ends up in your tallow and not the little bits. Those bits, by the way are pretty tasty when allowed to get crispy! Pour the tallow into jars for whatever purpose you intend it for. It can cool on the counter or in the refrigerator. Cooling it in the refrigerator will result in a smoother tallow.
This batch of tallow is being turned into tallow balm. Tallow balm is a wonderful balm to use on eczema. It soothes the skin and helps it heal. To make tallow balm: While tallow is cooling and almost cool but not yet solidifying, add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil (I use extra virgin) per 1/2 cup of tallow. For an unscented balm, this is all you need to do. For a scented and more therapeutic, soothing balm, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons of lavender essential oil can be added. Other essential oils can be used based on preference. Stir tallow well and let cool completely in the refrigerator. Store at room temperature or in the fridge. Shelf life is one year or more.
To use tallow balm, rub a small amount onto affected area and massage into skin. A little goes a long way. It is a wonderful addition to holistic eczema treatments which should include healing the gut first and foremost. For more information about healing eczema, visit The Holistic Squid – The Eczema Cure.
Have you ever rendered tallow? What do you use it for?