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written by

Cassandra Row

posted on

October 2, 2023

Contrary to popular belief, animal fat really isn’t bad for you. Sorry to break it to you, but you’ve bought a lie from expert marketers. Animal fat does not clog your arteries, it’s actually the vegetable oils you’ve been conditioned to believe are healthier.

Now that I’ve made you all mad, let me introduce you to tallow. We’ve all heard of butter and lard, but tallow? Yep. It’s very similar to lard. Lard comes from pig fat. You probably remember grandma’s secret ingredients to the best ever pie crust. Yep, that was lard.

Tallow on the other hand comes from beef fat. Tallow is a bit harder than lard at room temperature. It would be like refrigerated butter (tallow) vs room temperature butter (lard). They can be used very similarly in baking. My favorites here are for cold butter substitution where there isn’t a large amount. Do not substitute tallow for butter in cookies. You will be disappointed, though they will hold together quite well. If you cannot have butter, substitute half of the butter amount in tallow and the other half in coconut oil (the solid stuff).

Other uses for tallow include sautéing, frying, almost anything you would use butter or lard for. Would not recommend spreading it on bread like butter, but it does work pretty well for toasting it in the skillet. We have had a long stretch of not being able to tolerate dairy, so tallow has been my go-to substitute.

So how do you make this glorious thing? Its actually pretty simple. From most local butcher shops, you should be able to ask them to save you the beef fat. From there, take the fat home and freeze it. Believe me its way easier to handle.

  1. 1. Take the fat out of the freezer and chop into 1-2 inch chunks
  2. 2. Add into a crockpot on low heat.
  3. 3. Once the crockpot is full, put the lid on and walk away.
  4. 4. Come back occasionally to stir the pot.
  5. 5. After about 10-12 hours, you’ll see a bunch of liquid (tallow) and some crunchy brown looking stuff (cracklings) floating on top. This is how you know it is done.  

Gather up clean jars, a big measuring cup, colander (the wire ones work best here) and cheese cloth. Cut the cheese cloth so it is doubled up and fits nicely in the colander. Ideally the colander would fit inside the large measuring cup or bowl. I have two 8 cup bowls that I use for this.

  1. 1. Sometimes it’s easiest to spoon the big chucks of cracklings out and put them in a separate bowl. These are edible, but I usually just feed them to the dogs.
  2. 2. Slowly pour the liquid into the cheese cloth lined colander. You’ll probably have to start and stop as your measuring cup gets full.
  3. 3. Pour the now filtered tallow into your clean glass jars.
  4. 4. Put lids on and allow it to cool completely before storing.

I like to put the lids on hot because as they cool down, it sucks the lid down and seals the jar better. Store in a cool dark place. It will be shelf stable for a year. I keep my extra jars in the basement, and the one I’m using on the lazy susan by the stove.

If you don’t want to do the work of rendering the fat down, we do have tallow from our beef for sale as well. This is for local pickup only as they are in glass jars. You can order that with the link here.

For more easy recipes download our recipe book here.


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