It can definitely be categorized as another one of those “buzzwords” that you might not have heard of until you entered the Paleo or primal world.
What is tallow?
Tallow is fat rendered from meat other than pork
– most commonly beef. Basically, pork is to
lard as beef is to tallow. Tallow is processed from the suet of an animal. Suet is the hard, nutrient-dense fat that surrounds the kidneys and loins. This fat is rendered (melted down), the impurities removed, and used as a high-quality cooking fat.
Why use tallow?
Tallow is often considered a must-have in many Paleo kitchens. This is for a number of reasons. First off, tallow has a relatively high smoke point of 420℉. In fact, it was used for frying in most fast food restaurants up until the 1970’s when the vegetable oil industry started advocating for the use of vegetable oils instead.
What’s the benefit of a high smoke point? This means that the fat can be heated at high temperatures without oxidizing and creating free radicals. Tallow’s smoke point even exceeds that of coconut oil and lard. The less free radicals we consume in our diet, the better.
Tallow is also nutrient-dense. It naturally contains conjugated linoleic acid – a dietary supplement that is commonly marketed as having a host of health benefits including cardiovascular and anti-cancer benefits. It also contains antioxidants, fat-soluble vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids.
As with all meats we consume, you will want to choose the highest quality meat you can find. Always aim for grass-fed (and finished) beef. This meat will have a better nutrient profile than conventionally-raised meat.
How tallow is made
You can find grass-fed tallow online and in some speciality stores. As convenient as this is, it is usually an expensive pick-up. Luckily, you can make it at home for much cheaper! You’ll want to reserve a whole day for the process, but it is simple and will save you money in the long run.
- Go to your local butcher, health food store, farmer’s market, or ranch and ask if they have fat from grass-fed cows. In most cases, this fat is thrown away, so you can find it for relatively cheap (or even free!) Remember – stick to grass-fed beef only.
- You’ll have to get your hands dirty for this step. Trim off the the gristle, bloody parts, meat, and other extras around the fat. Then cut the fat into small chunks. This will be more manageable if the fat is cold when handling it. Some experts recommend putting the fat in the refrigerator the night before you make the tallow. After chopping the fat into smaller chunks, run it through the food processor until it has the consistency of ground meat. This will speed up the rendering process.
- Place the fat into a sturdy-bottomed pot over LOW heat – the lower the better. The last thing you want to do is burn the fat and oxidize the fatty acids. Melt down the fat. Depending on the amount you’re working with, this could take many hours. Be sure to check on the fat every 30 minutes or so and give it a stir to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan. As the fat melts down, the impurities will rise to the top. This is good.
- Once it’s melted all the way down, it’s time to strain. Place a strainer over a container (don’t use plastic because the tallow will be hot). Line the strainer with cheesecloth, and dump the contents of the pan into the strainer. It should catch all the impurities and leave you with a golden colored liquid in the container.
- You can leave the tallow in the container or portion it out into glass jars. Once it cools, it will harden and turn a creamy white or yellow color.
You can store tallow in an airtight container at room temperature or in the refrigerator. It can also be kept in the freezer.
Have you made tallow before? What’s your favorite way to use it? Find hundreds of new recipes (and ways to incorporate tallow) at paleodietrecipes.com.