Turning solid animal fat into liquid oil is EASY!
Melting animal fat is called rendering. The techniques I’ll show you can be used with pigs (lard), cows (suet/tallow), bear, sheep, goat, goose, chicken, turkey… whatever solid fat floats your boat.
You must understand WHY you’re going through an extra step to render instead of buying it.
Here are six reasons we render our own fat:
Reason #1: You can choose fat from animals that eat what they were designed to eat! Cows eat green forage and pigs like to root in the woods and around the pasture for food! What this means to you is that you have a high quality fat full of nutrient density. Not all tallow and lard are the same.
Reason #2: Pastured fats are high in Omega-3, which is an essential fatty acid for human growth and development. Just by allowing cows and pigs to eat their natural diet, they are high in omega-3 fat and pass that nutrition on to you!
Reason #3: Fat from healthy pastured animals contains conjugated linoleic acid (CLA). CLA can lower your risk for cancer, arteriosclerosis and diabetes!
Reason #4: Fat from animals raised right, contains high levels of vitamin A, E and D.
Reason #5: Tallow and lard, both saturated fats, are good for you and essential to your health. Take a look at these three articles if you’re not convinced to eat saturated fat, from the Weston A. Price Foundation, Taking the Fear Out of Eating Fat and Principles of a Healthy Diet and on Dr. Mercola’s website, Saturated Fats are Good for You.
Reason #6: Tallow and lard rendered from healthy animals raised on pastured without antibiotics or herbicides are hard to find local.
Pictured above, is one of our 3 and 1/2 year old heifers we processed last year. She would not stand for the bull and she refused to get preggers two years in a row and she looks a bit bullish… not a trait you want to continue in the herd, so we processed her. She was HUGE, she was almost 2,000 lbs and her hanging weight came to 960 lbs. It’s about double the size of a typical cow.
If you’re not ready to render your own fat, US Wellness Meats offers a high quality product that meets all the above criteria, click HERE. They also offer free shipping, with a one time order fee of $7.50 handling fee.
Four EASY steps to render your own raw fat
1.) Cut fat, from a pig or cow, into pieces or have a butcher “chilli grind” the raw fat. You could also put the fat in a food processor and pulse it until you get it into small pieces. You can render big chunks, but it’ll take a lot longer and you might not get all the yummy fat rendered out. When we processed our cow last year, I ask the butcher to set aside extra fat and to separate the kidney fat (which is the finest fat for making pie crusts), vacuum pack it and freeze it until the rest of the cow is aged and cut up. Make sure to ask that the fat is not rancid and not from the end of the dry aging 2-3 weeks later… because it might be rancid by then if it was from the outside of the carcass.
2.) Put the chilli ground fat pieces in either a large crock pot or a large dutch oven. You don’t need water… that just makes the whole process messier and an extra step to clean up.
3.) Cook raw fat covered on the lowest temperature available, “low” on crocks and 170ºF in the oven. Cook until it completely liquefies. You’ll have pieces of stuff (cracklings) and liquid at the end. It usually takes many hours, I usually let it go over night.
4.) Pour liquid fat through a stainless steel mesh strainer into mason jars and freeze it.
In the end you will have liquid gold. What isn’t liquid (cracklings), you can save for cooking or feed it to your animals… they’ll love it. Or if you don’t have animals, mix it with some seeds and feed it to the wild birds and squirrels. They’ll gobble it up. If you have a huge amount of cracklings, don’t feed them to your animals all at once… they’ll get sick.
One pound of fat will give about 2 1/4 cups of liquid gold
I freeze about 40 quarts of tallow and have it for bandage rapping, soap making, baking and cooking.
Fat frozen chili ground from my favorite butcher at Homestead Heritage in Waco, Texas. Notice one of the bags says “kidney”. I asked the butcher to keep the kidney fat separate. The fat that surrounds the kidney’s is the finest grade fat and the best for pie crusts and baking.
Raw bovine fat, called Suet. Frozen ready to render. Put the raw cut up pieces in the pot and cover, mine are frozen. Pictured above is my Goose Pot by Le Creuset Enameled Cast-Iron 15.5 QT. Set oven to 170 degrees or the lowest temperature you have.
You can also render fat in a slow cooker, I like the Hamilton Beach Slow Cooker because it does not contain lead. Don’t add water. Just fat and put it on low. Pour liquid fat into jars then freeze or can.
Pictured above is a jar of finished tallow labeled ready to use all year long for clothbound cheese, cooking, and soap making.
Tallow and lard will last up to two years in the freezer. Keep it in the refrigerator if you’re gonna use it within the next month or two, otherwise freeze or can it.
If you’re not ready to render you’re own lard or tallow, you can mail order it from US Wellness Meats.