Making your own tallow is easy, if a bit time-consuming. The most difficult part is chopping the meat into very small pieces, but a food processor makes this easier. Once the fat is finely chopped, you can render it on the stovetop or in a slow cooker. Both methods work well.
When we place our yearly order for beef, we make sure to request the fat from the butcher. If you don't buy beef in bulk, you could check with a butcher to see if you can buy some beef fat. They may even give it to you for free!
How to Render Tallow
Equipment needed: food processor, slow cooker (optional)
- Make sure your beef fat is cold. This will make it much easier to chop with your knife, and the fat must be cold when you put it into the food processor.
- Chop up beef fat into 1-2-inch pieces using a sharp chef's knife. Both cubes and small strips will work. Remove and discard any meaty bits from the fat.
- To chop the fat into very small pieces, use a food processor. The best way I found to do this is to drop the chunks of fat into the food processor while it is running. This keeps the fat from binding up the blade of the food processor. My food processor has a hole in the pusher lid that can be used to drop food in while the processor is running. Drop in the fat a bit at a time, in fairly rapid succession. You don't want to over-chop the fat, as it will turn into a sticky paste. Ideally, the fat will look shredded when you are done processing it. If you are making a lot of tallow, plan to do several batches in the food processor.
- To render the tallow on the stovetop, place the finely chopped fat into a heavy-bottomed pot. Use the lowest possible heat, and stir occasionally. I was surprised at how quickly the fat started to melt down on the stovetop, even with the tiniest flicker of flame under it. Continue to cook the fat until all that remains is meaty-looking pieces. It took about 1.5 hours for my tallow to render on the stovetop.
- To render the tallow using a slow cooker, set the cooker on low. You may want to stir it every hour to speed things up a bit. Continue to cook the fat until all that remains is meaty-looking pieces. It took about 3.5 hours for my tallow to render in the slow cooker.
- Allow the rendered fat to cool slightly, and then pour it through a fine mesh strainer to remove the meaty bits.
- Transfer the tallow to the fridge and cool completely.
- Scoop the pure tallow from the top of the container and store in airtight containers. I like to put the bit from the bottom of the bowl (that had little tiny flecks of meat) into the fridge and use that up first. The pure tallow does not need to be refrigerated.