Learn how to make your own grass-fed beef tallow easily using your slow cooker!
A quick google search showed me that grass-fed beef tallow is selling at over $15, easily, for a 14-ounce jar. Perhaps it’s because tallow is loaded with healthy fats and oils, making it wonderful for cooking. Perhaps it’s because tallow is very versatile and can also be used to make emergency candles, soap, and a super nourishing body butter. Or perhaps it’s because places like Washingtonian Magazine call tallow one of the 15 hottest food trends of 2015. Whatever the reason, that’s a whole lot of dough to shell out for some fat, especially when you can render your own so easily.
I rendered my first batch of grass fed fat into beef tallow only recently, after buying a steer to share with a few other families. You see, when you purchase the steer, you receive all the edible, useful, parts of the animal, including the fat. Some people throw out the fat, but I knew there had to be an alternative, and I needed to find it out of respect for the animal that is feeding my family. A quick search led me to a very straightforward explaination of tallow making on The Prairie Homestead, and I thought, “I can do this.” So I made beef tallow. According to a friend of mine, that’s the equivalent of 3.7 homesteader street cred points. #ballin (<– is that used correctly? If not, what is the appropriate term?)
I’ve rendered a few batches of beef tallow now, and I think I’m saving all of them for food. I might make a bitty batch of body butter if I get really curious, but this stuff is good! I’ve used it to saute mushrooms and onions, scramble some eggs (beef fried eggs?), and I keep threatening to use it to make fries or something unhealthy, but tasty. A friend of mine with an infant would puree it into her son’s homemade baby food as a healthy fat source. There’s a reason it’s one of this year’s top food trends.
But since I’m teaching you how to eat well without spending a fortune, I’m not going to tell you to go out and buy pre-made beef tallow. I’m going to show you how to make it yourself, because fat is not expensive, and two pounds will get you more than 14 ounces, and cost you less than half the retail price ($15+).
It’s also a great way to support your local farmers! When they butcher a steer for sale, they have all these bones and beef fat left over that they sell for very low prices because there’s a much higher demand for cuts of meat. Because quality is absolutely imperative in this case so you reap the best nutritional benefits, call your local grass fed beef farmer or specialty butcher shop and ask about purchasing fat. Request leaf fat if possible as it will provide the mildest flavor. You may have to get there before a few soap makers, but it’s worth it. If you’re in the Northern Virginia area, we purchased our steer from Whiffletree Farms.
My beef fat came already pretty clean, which was nice. I trimmed off a few small sections of meat, some thin plastic-like membrane on a few sections, and cut it by hand into small cubes (about 1-1.5″ square). Then I put all of that into my slow cooker and set it on low for 8-10 hours while I went about my day (or slept if it was overnight). At the end of the time, any leftover chunks were a golden brown color, and there was a golden liquid filling my slow cooker. I lined a strainer with paper towels or cheesecloth, poured the contents of my slow cooker through it, divided the liquid beef tallow between jars and let it cool to a nice solid white color before storing. You can store tallow at room temperature for several months, or in the freezer for over a year. The internet powers that be say it doesn’t expire unless it smells rancid, but I get the feeling we won’t have ours long enough to find out if this is true.
Now go forth my dears, make your beef tallow, and be trendy… I mean healthy… and use the money you saved on something fun like date night at a local restaurant or a really good chocolate bar to share with someone that makes your heart happy! 😉
- ~2 lbs grass fed beef fat
- Trim your fat of meat, veins, etc and cut into cubes about 1" around.
- Place the fat in your slow cooker and set the slow cooker on low.
- Allow to cook 6-8 hours until the fat has rendered. Any floating bits you need to strain out will be a golden brown.
- Place a strainer over a bowl and line with a double layer of cheesecloth or two large paper towels. Carefully pour the tallow through the strainer to remove any solid bits.
- Pour the tallow into jars for storage and allow to cool before sealing to prevent moisture
You can double this recipe with very little change in the cooking time (8-10 hrs maybe) as long as everything fits into your slow cooker.
Nicole @Little Blog on the Homestead
Friday 29th of May 2015
Great tutorial!! I want to do it, but we don't ever buy a whole cow. We do pig (bacon fat is awesome too) and chickens. Someday on our farm we'll raise pigs and then do a swapsy for cow...but that's a few years off still. Love the tip about going to the butcher or the farmers market. I'll have to try that this summer :-)
Monday 1st of June 2015
Our farmer sells beef fat for only $1/lb, so you can definitely find it without buying a whole steer. ;)