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What Occurs When Rendering Beef Fats to Make Tallow?

Rendering beef fats is kind of an enchanting course of. You’re reworking seemingly unedible, gooey, octopus-like materials into pure liquid fats. Sooner or later, it’s possible you’ll effectively ponder whether that transformation will even occur!

However, be affected person. If achieved effectively, you’ll be able to remodel laborious, stable unappetizing items of fats into liquid gold. It’s a matter of slowly, however steadily, breaking apart fats cells and evaporating moisture.

Rendering fats is a purification course of

If you render fats, you’re primarily cleansing it. Throughout rendering, you do away with undesirable moisture, and solids that sit throughout the fatty scraps. You remodel a tough, unedible piece of left-over fats into nearly 100% pure fats.

You may render fat from varied animal sources. The title of the ultimate purified fats is determined by the supply of the fats. Rendering beef fats leads to a product known as (beef) tallow. Pork fats makes lard for example.

Within the meat trade the time period rendering is used extra broadly. It’s used to discuss with any course of that turns animal by-products into usable merchandise, so not simply fat. A few of these merchandise could also be edible by people, others could also be utilized in different industries such because the cleaning soap trade.

Rendering fat prevents waste

These days, most of us not render our personal fat. However, again within the day, rendering your individual fats was fairly frequent. It was an necessary and useful supply of fats for folks. Additionally, it was a approach to make use of as a lot of an animal’s carcass as potential.

Remember that solely about 50% of the burden of a cow is made up of edible meat cuts. The rest is made up of largely bones, hides, and fats. However, that doesn’t imply there is no such thing as a longer any worth in these merchandise. It might be a waste to throw these out. It’s why the meat trade has discovered purposes for nearly any a part of an animal. Rendering the fat is considered one of them.

oxtail bones
You may’t make a steak out of the tail of a cow, however you’ll be able to prepare dinner the oxtail to make a scrumptious inventory.

The best way to render beef fats

In case you’ve ready a big reduce of meat earlier than, similar to a brisket, you might have needed to slice off quite a lot of fatty elements. The fats elements would possibly simply make up 20% of the burden of the general piece of meat! These elements could seem inedible, however by rendering them down, you’ll be able to nonetheless use a big portion of those scraps.

At first sight, these fats scraps could seem inedible. They’re robust and gelatinous and don’t appear very appetizing. It’s because the fats continues to be ‘trapped’ in fats cells. Animals retailer fats as an vitality reserve in these cells. The cells maintain the fats collectively and may include small quantities of water and collagen, a protein, to carry all of it collectively. Throughout rendering, you break down these fats cells, releasing particular person fats molecules. Additionally, you’re eliminating the surplus moisture in addition to solids such because the proteins. Because of this, the ultimate rendered fats is delicate sufficient to be scooped, smeared, or perhaps even be poured.

beef fat in the midst of the rendering process
Fats scraps partially rendered down. It’s nonetheless very gelatinous, nearly appears to be like like octopus. However over time, most of it should soften into liquid fats.

Warmth the fat – go sluggish and regular

To render fats, it is advisable slowly, however steadily, warmth the fats scraps. Fats cells, in addition to collagen, can’t deal with warmth effectively and they’ll break down. This releases the fat, but in addition another parts of the cells, similar to water, guaranteeing they’ll evaporate or be skimmed off.

When rendering fats at residence you’ll need to preserve it shut, however just under, the boiling level of water. Initially, it’s fairly simple to not overheat the fat for the reason that scraps will include a substantial quantity of water. So long as that is nonetheless evaporating, the combo received’t get as sizzling that simply. Nonetheless, in direction of the tip of the method, solely very small quantities of water are left. It now’s a matter of carefully watching your fat to make sure they don’t overheat!

Excessive temperatures flip the tallow brown

Rendering takes time since fat don’t soften instantaneously and since cells want time to interrupt down. You is likely to be tempted to hurry up rendering, by doing so at a better temperature. Nonetheless, it is necessary to not go too quick. In case you do, you would possibly find yourself burning the small variety of proteins and different non-fatty supplies within the rendered fats – as a result of Maillard response, very very similar to what occurs when making brown butter. This may trigger the colour of your rendered fats to change into yellow and even brown.

Producers use pressure & centrifuges

The at-home rendering course of takes warmth and time. Skilled rendering factories take a number of shortcuts to render fats loads sooner. To begin with, they don’t simply use warmth to interrupt down fats cells. As an alternative, they use specialised gear to bodily break down these constructions.

Subsequent, water and fats are separated utilizing a centrifuge – very similar to they do within the dairy trade when separatin cream from the milk. Lastly, a extra average heating course of is used for remaining melting and clarification of the fat.

rendered beef fat
Beef tallow constructed from brisket fats.

Beef tallow is nearly 100% fats

The ultimate rendered beef fats, aka beef tallow, is made of just about 100% fats. It’s in a approach much like sunflower oil, ghee, lard, or canola oil, that are additionally nearly pure fat. Despite the fact that they’re all fat, they do behave fairly in a different way due to slight variations of their composition.

Fat and oils are made up of a bunch of molecules known as triglycerides. All of them have a really comparable construction. Their spine is made up of a glycerol molecule. Three fatty acid molecules are then hooked up to that spine, explaining the ‘tri’ in triglyceride. It’s the kind of fatty acids in a fats that decide its remaining habits.

Beef tallow incorporates largely oleic, palmitic and stearic acid

On common, the primary fatty acids making up beef tallow are ≈40% of oleic (C18:1), ≈25% palmitic (C16:0), and ≈20% stearic acid (C18:0). It additionally incorporates 2-5% of myristic acid (C14:0), palmitoleic acid (C16:1) and linoleic acid (C18:2).

The CXX:Y codes behind every fatty acid describe crucial properties of a fatty acid. XX refers back to the size of the fatty acid. Y refers as to if a fatty acid is saturated (Y=0) or unsaturated (Y>0).

Beef tallow is a pure, thus variable, product

Remember that these numbers are averages. Even inside one animal, the composition of the fats can fluctuate extensively. For example, the fats across the kidney is notably laborious and brittle. It’s fairly totally different from fats that you could be discover elsewhere within the cow.

That various composition has an influence on the properties of the rendered beef fats. Some beef tallow could also be tougher than others, relying on the place it comes from. The composition of fatty acids impacts that consistency. Extra oleic acid makes a softer fats, whereas a better stearic acid content material provides a tougher tallow.

cultured (left) vs uncultured (right) butter
Not all butters are the identical. The identical is true for beef tallows.

The best way to use beef tallow

You need to use beef tallow how you’d use many different fat, it’s, in the long run a fats. More durable variations of beef tallow will work effectively in doughs, as a alternative for butter, lard or shortening. Suppose beef tallow biscuits. Do remember the fact that beef tallow, particularly home made one, might have a slight scent and style to it. This may be each a professional and a con!

Beef tallow is nice for deep frying

However, it’s particularly helpful for (deep) frying. You could possibly fry your egg in tallow, or use it for deep frying merchandise. It additionally makes nice crispy air-fried potatoes or french fries.

One of many causes beef tallow could be very appropriate for deep-frying is its excessive smoke level, of round 250°C (480°F). This implies that you would be able to warmth the meat tallow to those excessive temperatures with out inflicting off-flavors or a lower within the high quality of the oil.

Secondly, throughout frying a number of flavorful molecules are fashioned, which add appreciable taste to the ultimate fried product. It’s why french fries fried in beef tallow can style totally different from these fried in vegetable oils.

Previously, many meals had been deep fried in beef tallow, however attributable to well being issues, the swap to vegetable oils was made. In case you’re within the story, Malcolm Gladwell made an incredible podcast on the subject, it’s considered one of my all-time favorites.

Storing beef tallow

Nicely rendered beef tallow is a really secure product. The tougher the tallow, the extra secure it’s. More durable tallow incorporates fewer unsaturated fatty acids which is able to flip rancid over time. That mentioned, you’ll be able to freeze beef tallow for lengthy intervals of time and it retains effectively within the fridge. The decrease temperatures decelerate destructive chemical reactions.

So, subsequent time you put together an enormous piece of meat, don’t throw away these items of fats. And don’t hand over if it appears to be like prefer it’s by no means going to work out. Rendering fats takes time and a few endurance, however will produce a really pure fats product, with out quite a lot of effort.


  • Left over fats trimmings (e.g. from a bit of brisket, or out of your butcher)
  • Little water (non-compulsory)


Rendering takes some time and is finest achieved at a low to average warmth. Select a pot that may maintain onto some warmth so it’s simpler to take care of temperature, we used fairly a heavy-bottomed pot.

  1. Add the fats to the pot. It’s okay if it nonetheless incorporates some small items of meat, you will take away these on the finish.
  2. Optionally available: Pour slightly water into the pan, simply sufficient to cowl the underside. The water will assist forestall the fats from burning and browning on the underside at the beginning. Nonetheless, you do must evaporate it once more, in a while, so use it sparingly so you do not waste quite a lot of time.
  3. On a low to medium warmth, warmth the pot. Stir usually, to start with, to forestall the bits from sticking to the underside and turning brown. In a matter of minutes, you will notice fats liquid increase within the pan. That is fats. As soon as there’s a skinny layer of fats on the backside, the danger of burning is much less, so you’ll be able to go away it to simmer.
  4. The pot contents must be sizzling sufficient for water to evaporate, so attempt to keep above 100C (212F). However, it must be cool sufficient to forestall burning. It is a fats, so as soon as it is too sizzling you are primarily deep frying something that is left that is not a fats. You don’t need this to occur.
  5. As soon as nearly every part has molten down, your tallow is prepared. Let it quiet down barely, however do not let it set. Sieve it by a papertowel and retailer it in a jar or container with a lid to decelerate oxidation.


Belitz, H.-D.., Grosch, Werner., Schieberle, Peter. Meals Chemistry. Germany: Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2013. p. 646

Esonye Chizoo, Ume Cyril Sunday, Esonye Marcel Chimankpam, Okafor Vincent Nwoye and Ofoefule Akuzuo Uwaoma, Extraction of Nigerian Beef Tallow by Moist Rendering Course of and its Characterization, WNOFNS 15 (2017) 129-138, hyperlink

EPA, 9.5.3 Meat Rendering crops, Emission Elements, Meals and Agriculture, p. 9.5.3-1, hyperlink

Malcolm Gladwell, McDonald’s broke my coronary heart, Revisionist Historical past podcast collection, hyperlink

Slip slidin away, Real Concepts, Oct-2012, hyperlink

David L. Meeker, Important Rendering, All concerning the animal by-products trade, 2006, hyperlink

Jess Pryles, Liquid gold: how you can render fats and make your individual tallow, hyperlink

ANSC/NUTR 618, Lipids & Lipid Metabolism – Melting Factors of Animal Fat, Handout 3, hyperlink



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