I know that we have all been taught that animal fat (saturated fat) is BAD for us, but guess what it is REAL FOOD. It has not been engineered by food scientists or made in a factory somewhere. You can render tallow (beef or sheep fat) or lard (pig fat) in your own kitchen. I’ve seen several different methods for rendering lard or tallow, but this is the one that I use. I have the butcher package up all of the fat for me when we have our steer butchered and keep it in the freezer till I get tired of it taking up space. I have never rendered lard before, because we don’t raise pigs, but I understand the method is the same. Most butchers will give you fat for free if you request it, but I prefer to know what the animal it came from has been fed. At some point I intend to get pig fat when a friend is having a pig butchered. Lard is ideal for baking, especially pie crusts! Never use the shelf stable lard from the grocery store, it has been hydrogenated – eek! I will use this tallow for making soap (when I get around to it). Tallow is also excellent for frying (because it has a high smoke point). I’m not advocating eating fried food every night, but for an occasional treat french fries fried in beef tallow can’t be beat.
I used about five pounds of fat this time. I try to do this on a day when I can open all the windows because boiling a pot of fat on the stove for several hours doesn’t give the house the greatest odor.
Cut beef fat into small chunks (smaller chunks will cook faster).
Place in a pot on the stove and heat over medium low heat for 1 – 1 1/2 hours.
Drain the fat (I use a metal strainer). Save the solids for the dog.
Add twice as much water to the pot, as the amount of liquid fat that you have rendered (I ended up with 4 cups of fat and added 8 cups of water).
Strain the fat again to remove any remaining chunks.
Pour fat into a 9 x 13 pan.
Invert the fat onto a plate over the sink. The tallow will have risen to the top of the pan and the water underneath will pour off into the sink. On the underside of the tallow there will be a layer of scum. Using a butter knife scrape the scum off, until all that you can see is pure white tallow.
Cut the tallow into chunks and refrigerate for up to 4 weeks, or wrap in plastic and freeze.