Last weekend a friend brought me a huge bag of beef fat to render into tallow. I have never done this before with beef fat. Actually beef fat is something I would normally avoid at all costs so I felt a little intimidated. But this homesteading experience is changing me, I also felt intrigued and up for the challenge. The fat was primarily from around the kidneys which means it did not have much meat attached. Everything I read online about the rendering process says you must cut the fat into tiny pieces or put it through a grinder before you cook it down. Well, I did not do either. I just cut it all up into chunks, put it in a stock pot, poured in a little water, and set it on a burner on medium low. I set up an electric burner outside my living space for this project as to not subject my non-beef eating family to the lingering unpleasant smell of cooking fat.
It was then time to strain the hot tallow carefully through a cloth and pour into jars. What I was left with was a clear benign liquid. When I returned to the kitchen the next morning the tallow had cooled and turned pure white, looking very much like coconut oil.
I was surprised at how satisfied I felt with the end product. Perhaps it's just me, but I get happy when I find value in things that others would just throw away. I really like the qualities of beef tallow and would describe it as a sort of animal shea butter. For all the meat eaters out there, I have read that you can make the best of french fries with tallow. Personally, I am more excited to use it as the main ingredient in my next batch of soap. Or it might be interesting to use some in an herbal salve. Definitely a fun experiment!