Rendering Suet into Tallow

A few weeks back we visited Mt. Vernon Farms and, among the other goodies we got, picked up some grass-fed beef suet. Suet is essentially pure fat that is sometimes used in its natural form, but is usually used to render into tallow. We love to use tallow and lard in our cooking and making your own tallow from suet is incredibly affordable and easy. So easy, in fact, that we just winged it without instructions and somehow came out with a fantastic final product!

For those nutrition heads, tallow is a cooking fat that is 50% saturated fat, 42% monounsaturated fat and 95% fat overall. For those who believe, as we do, that fat ought to be the major macronutrient component of your diet, grass-fed tallow is pure gold. Stacy wrote more on that topic in the epic gallbladder post.

By the way, if you’re curious about why we’re talking positively about saturated fat, long the bogeyman blamed for heart disease, there are many places (like here, here and here) that explain this reversal better than we can. Essentially, the lipid hypothesis does not hold up to scientific scrutiny and the whole demonization of fats is based on a misunderstanding.

Oh you want the instructions, eh? Well, here’s how you do it.

First off, a word of warning. YOUR HOUSE WILL SMELL LIKE A RENDERING PLANT FOR 24 HOURS IF YOU DO THIS INSIDE! In hindsight, grabbing an extension cord and doing this on our deck during the day would have been a far better idea than doing it indoors overnight. I, personally, can’t even stand the smell of bacon lingering in my house (obviously, the taste well makes up for this problem), so this was torture! Perhaps now that spring is approaching, find a safe surface near a window?

What you will need:

Beef suet
Slow cooker

That’s it! You could, of course, do this in a pot over low heat on the stove top, but I don’t like having the gas on for that long.

How to do it:

Step 1: Cut you suet into smaller pieces to fit in the pot

Step 2: Remove any membrane (“silver skin”) from the suet

Step 3: Put the suet in the slow cooker and set it for low, 10 hours

Step 4: When done, strain out the leftover pieces

Step 5: Pour the golden fat into storage containers

Step 6: Place in the fridge to solidify

Step 7: Impress your friends, make your enemies jealous

That’s it! Now use your tallow to saute or roast your veggies or fry your eggs, or where ever else you need cooking oil! We plan to deep fry some veggies in it to make our own “chips” – yum!

For the record, we used 6lbs of grass-fed suet and it produced over 2 pints of tallow. I bet the leftover cooked pieces would make an excellent dog treat!

Interesting Factoids:

You know those cakes of bird seed you can get to attract birds to your yard? The cake part is made of suet!

Ever watch the Iditarod dogsled race? Ever wonder how they feed those dogs that work so hard for so long? Due to the extreme calorie burn off in those animals, they often fed them suet because it is so energy packed.

Do you remember the soapmaking in Fight Club? Well, they were essentially using the *ahem* medical waste in the same way you’re using the suet. First step in making soap is you do not talk abo… I mean, render tallow out of animal fat!

What about candles? It is likely that some of the first candles were made out of tallow and they were used well into the 19th century until paraffin became readily available.

And did you know about the waterproofing capabilities of animal fat? Our paleolithic ancestors may have rubbed their furs with suet to make them waterproof!

Although this particular “recipe” isn’t grandiose and fun – it is 100% kid friendly ♥. The boys loved helping us funnel the fat into jars. Plus, I bet sharing those factoids will excite your kids and they’ll be happy to fetch your tallow for you during the next meal making routine!

http://paleoparents.com/featured/how-to-enjoy-bacon-without-a-gallbladder/

About Stacy

Stacy Toth has written 385 post in this blog.

Stacy is the matriarch of the Paleo Parents family. After beginning a paleo diet and founding PaleoParents.com in 2010, she lost 135 pounds and found health and happiness for the whole family. The following three years have been a progressive journey with a mission to educate people about nourishing their bodies by eating real foods. Stacy can be found on all forms of social media as @PaleoParents as well as the top-rated The Paleo View Podcast and her two cookbooks, Eat Like a Dinosaur and Beyond Bacon.

  • Pandora520

    Great post, thanks! Can you do the same thing with pork fat? We recently purchased 1/2 pasture raised pig from a local farm and I have about 5 lb of fat sitting in my freezer. Wondering if I can render it in the same way…

    • http://PaleoParents.com Stacy & Matt

       Absolutely! That’s what I’m going to do with my pork fat!

  • Marielle

    Nice! I almost exclusively cook with tallow. :)One thing though, is that you would get waaay more tallow out of those suet pieces if you grated/ground the suet up. I don’t have a grinder but I do grate my suet chunks by hand and then render it in my cast iron pan on the stove (though of course you can use any rendering method you want). Takes about an hour on the stove and you’re left with crispy cracklin’s! You do have to filter it, though.

    Definitely agree about the smell – my first time rendering I was NOT used to the smell of pure beef fat and I thought something was wrong because it was such an unusual, permeating smell.

    • Marielle

      PS: Forgot to thank you for bringing Mount Vernon Farm to my attention – I ordered from them recently and am very happy with my order! I made lamb heart kabobs and they were wonderful. I didn’t get suet from them this time because I already had some in the freezer, but I definitely will next time I order. :)

      • http://PaleoParents.com Stacy & Matt

         They just dropped off two pigs this morning. Mike carried all the coolers down to my basement while Finn and I unloaded them. They’re the best!

    • http://PaleoParents.com Stacy & Matt

       I actually am aware of this, but just wanted to make it easier on people by using the crockpot and just using the colander.

  • Kaitlyn

    I have a question regarding lard. My husband and I started the paleo diet a little over a month ago. We bought some lard from the grocery store, but it says it’s hydrogenated. Is all lard considered to be hydrogenated? Is hydrogenation a bad thing if it’s natural. Just wondering, becuase we’ve been using a lot of it. It’s cheaper than trying to make/buy ghee. Thanks in advance!

    • http://PaleoParents.com Stacy & Matt

       The hydrogenating is not good for you. It’s how they increase shelf life (you hear the term polyunsaturated or monounsaturated? It refers to how many carbon atoms are double bonded rather than bonded to hydrogen.) Hydrogenating doesn’t work the same as naturally occurring saturated fats, though, as it creates trans fatty acids, which most scientist believe is linked to heart disease.

    • http://PaleoParents.com Stacy & Matt

       In other words, it’s an industrial process that makes it no healthier. You may be better off buying lard from a farm or butcher or finding an unhydrogenated brand.

  • Alta

    I love using tallow and lard. Have a bunch of pork fat in my freezer I need to render – maybe this weekend! I’ve done it in my slow cooker before, but it seems that my slow cooker gets really hot and it doesn’t work as well as if I was to do it over the stove at low heat. (It’s also to blame for cooking a chicken until the bones were soft, when on low, no less!) Darned thing. Anyway, great post! :)

    • http://PaleoParents.com Stacy & Matt

       Now that’s not a slow cooker! It’s a fast cooker! That’s really strange that yours is so off. Yes the stovetop will work just as well, though!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1028353555 Bonnie Cramer Stone

    So, the fact that I’m new to all this will be very apparent here, but what does tallow taste like?  Is it “beef-y” – like bacon fat keeps the bacon flavor?

    • http://PaleoParents.com Stacy & Matt

       I would say that beefy would be an apt comparison. It tastes like the beef version of lard.

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1028353555 Bonnie Cramer Stone

        LOL, never had lard either :/  Oh, well.  I’ll just have to give them both a try!

  • Guest

    If you only got 2 lbs. of tallow from 6 lbs. of suet, you did not properly render it. You should get closer to the same amount as you started. My guess is that your large cubes still have untapped fat inside. Try slicing or chopping the suet finely next time, like 1/8th-inch.

  • http://www.facebook.com/valoriejane Valorie Jane Helmick Raymond

    I did this in the spring with the pig I bought…I still have half of the fat in the freezer ready to render! It was a bigger, slower job than I expected!!! I then canned it..and it seems to be holding up well. The only thing I would do differently is use the patio next time…but I am sure the tallow did not have the smell of the lard?

    • http://PaleoParents.com Stacy & Matt

      The tallow is much worse, to me. My recommendation is to put the crockpot outside if it bothers you. Good luck! It’s worth it!

  • Paleo Right

    The left over cooked pieces are Yummy… sorry, but the dog is missing out in our house.

  • solere

    hello paleo parents. my question is: Can i make homemade lotion with lard instead of tallow? (or soap)

    • http://PaleoParents.com Stacy & Matt

      NO idea! I bet you could though!

  • shel

    Hi, I notice most posters here have used fat from mammals, but my family has a lot of chicken in our diet. I have been saving the broth, and skimming off the greasy fat to save separately. Recently I threw everything in a big pot and allowed it to simmer on the stove for awhile so that it would separate into layers again. After carefully skimming the fatty golden layer of the top, actually about three inches deep, I had two beautiful large containers of pure fat, and two that could be further separated, as well as one of nearly pure broth.

    I am not sure however, if this is lard or tallow, it has set up to an off white color.

    • http://PaleoParents.com Stacy & Matt

      I think that would just be called chicken fat and it’s perfectly tasty to use. In fact, one of the most prized cooling fats is duck fat!

      • shel

        Will it work like lard or tallow for other uses like soap making? I’m really looking forward to learning to make my own soap.

        • http://PaleoParents.com Stacy & Matt

          Yes! This is the same thing!

        • zhinka

          chicken fat will make a softer soap then mammal fat,but it will clean the same!
          It does not taste as nice as duck fat for cooking but it does make great stir frys!

      • Devon Lantry

        In jewish cooking we call it “shmaltz.” It’s saved and collected for the most important meals because it’s so damn flavorful

  • Nancy

    In the process of ordering a 1/4 side of beef and have the option of getting the suet. I had to look it up and didn’t realize that it’s the same thing I was ordering from a well known online vendor and paying an arm and a leg for. I think I will mark “yes” to the suet and give rendering it a try. For anybody doing this outside, has anybody had an issue with it attracting animals? We live in a regular subdivision, but it adjoins some wooded areas and we also are not far from a regional park area. We sometimes have turkeys and deer wandering around the neighborhood. A couple of years ago we we had 9 turkeys run across our yard, last fall there were 5 deer walking up the street from us and during the winter, looked out front around midnight and saw 3 across the street in my neighbor’s yard, also have some predator type birds. We know there are lots of field mice around (which makes me nervous about even attempting this in the garage), and probably some other animals as well.