In a previous older post I described at length the types of animal fat that can be used for cooking and soap making, so I won't bore you over much with repeat details (if you do want a refresher course on animal fats, you can read that blog here: Living High On the Hog: Rendering And Using Lard).
Today I'll be focusing on the rendering of animal fat, specifically beef tallow. About mid-march, I was able to procure from a friend about 9.5 kilograms of fresh beef suet (fat). Their mobile butcher was happy to mince it up for me with his nifty mincing machine, and that saved me a load of hard, time consuming work.
It was a hot day when I got around to rendering the fat, and muggy to boot- there was no way I was rendering in the house! So I set my work station up outside on the gas grill instead. It only takes a simple modification to convert it from grill to gas stove; with the handy addition of a spare oven rack to provide a study, stable surface, my large 6.8 liter cast iron stew pot fit perfectly into the space I designed for it.
Each batch was roughly 3+ kilos of suet, with about 1 cup of water added to keep it from sticking and burning. Then I simply covered with the lid, and left it to cook until the pot was filled with liquid fat in a full rolling boil. I pulled the lid off, and stirred it now and then so I could make sure it had boiled off any remaining water, and ladled the fat from the big pot, through a strainer, into a smaller pot.
Now, when you render any animal fat, there's a certain amount of leftover tissue which needs dealing with. It's still pretty fatty, and has a sort of mince-like texture until you cook it further. You can use it in its mince-like state and add it to meatballs or meat loaf, add it to dog or cat food, feed it to the chickens, whatever pleases you. Mine is destined for dog treat biscuits. Or, you can cook the bits leftover until they are browned and crunchy, and those, my friend, are cracklings! They can be used as a crunchy topping on casseroles, or wherever you'd like something tasty and crunchy. It's great for those low carbers trying to satisfy their munchies.
After I strained the liquid fat, I poured it into molds (in this case, bread loaf baking tins) and let it solidify at room temperature before moving the tins to the fridge to set hard. It was just a matter of un-molding the tallow then, wrapping and weighing the blocks to determine how much I got out of this deal. I got over 5.6 kilos of pure tallow which is excellent, considering I started with 9.5 kilos of suet!
I look forward to using it in my handmade soaps!
Are you enjoying these blogs? Let me know what you think in the comments! Until next time, I'll be seeing "U" again! (Ugh, yes, I'm sorry. I have to stop making punny jokes.)