Ah, tallow: the healthy fat least recognized.
Tallow is one of the long-lost fats of our generation–pushed off the shelf by vegetable and canola oils.
Every time I find myself in a conversation about healthy fats (which is pretty much every day of my life), I mention tallow and inevitably confuse someone. No one seems to know what tallow is.
Is it a plant?
Is it some British variation of “hello?” (sorry…I realize that one’s a stretch…)
For a while, I wasn’t sure myself. I knew it was a fat, but I didn’t know from whence it came.
Was it a chicken? Or a goat?
Turns out I was half right with “goat.”
Tallow is the rendered fat of cows, sheep, and other ruminant animals such as deer. It is very solid and waxy at room temperature and can be kept for extended periods without the need for refrigeration. Rendering is the process of gently heating the interior fat tissue, called “suet,” causing the pure oils to melt away from the rest of the tissue. (Source)
Suet is the hard fat found around the kidneys of the cow.
Rendering is the process of heating and separating the fat from the other bits by slowly heating and then straining the suet. I started by cutting my suet into tiny cubes, but you could also grind yours in the food processor.
I put the suet cubes into the slow cooker with a 1/4 cup of water on the bottom. Lydia at Divine Health says that the water helps keep the fat from burning. I set the slow cooker on Low and my time for 9 hours.
- 2 to 2.5 lbs beef suet from grass-fed cows
- 1/4 cup water
- cheese cloth
- large bowl
- glass quart jar
- slow cooker
- If needed, trim your suet of muscle tissue and chop into small pieces. You could also grind it in the food processor, which would take away some of the rendering time.
- Place 1/4 cup of water in the slow cooker and top with your suet chunks.
- Cook on low for about 9 hours (if you ground up the suet, it might take less time.)
- Once the cracklings and the tallow have separated, pour the contents of the slow cooker through a cheese cloth and into a large bowl.
- If needed, pour through another cheese cloth and into a glass jar for storage.
Tallow is (in my world) a long-lost fat.
A traditional, nourishing fat that you don’t find in very many circles this day and age.
Tallow is an excellent source of niacin, vitamins B6, B12, K2, selenium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and riboflavin. Grassfed beef tallow contains high ratio of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a cancer-resistant agent. Contrary to the popular conception, tallow is good for health as tallow fat is similar to the fat/muscles in the heart. Recent studies have shown that human beings need at least 50% of saturated fats like tallow and lard to keep the heart pumping hale and healthy. Tallow from pasture-raised cows also contains a small amount of Vitamin D, similar to lard. It is also a good source of K2 in its suet form. (Source)
Fat is our optimum source of fuel and I encourage everyone to experiment with long-lost fats like tallow and lard.
Don’t be afraid: they’re good for you.
You need them to survive and thrive.
Wondering what to do with your tallow?
Here are some of the suggestions I got from my amazing Facebook followers and the world-wide web:
- Fry up some french fries or sweet potato fries (tallow is a very stable fat, which makes it great for high temperature cooking).
- Make some homemade candles or soap.
- Use it as a moisturizer– it’s a traditional remedy for eczema.
- Make some tallow balm for your face.
- Make some pemmican .
- Fuel your car…