How to Render and Purify Tallow That’s Odorless


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If you’re wondering how to render and purify tallow (whether that be for cooking, tallow skincare or beauty products like our pure, unscented grass-fed tallow balms or soap making needs), you came to the right place. When it comes to rendering tallow, we got you, friend.

Making your own tallow at home is a simple process that starts with obtaining pieces of meat, typically beef fat trimmings or suet. Once rendered, tallow can also be used for frying, including making crispy french fries, as a replacement for unhealthy vegetable oils.

Rendering and purifying tallow might sound very complex but, spoiler alert- it’s not. The rendering and purifying process is actually super simple and I’m going to break it down for you even simpler!

how to render and purify tallow pinterest pin

Note: For the best quality tallow, sourcing from grass-fed beef is recommended, as it contains higher levels of beneficial nutrients like stearic acid.

Rendering Tallow

Let’s start with the basics of rendering tallow.

Where Do You Get Tallow From?

For the best results, opt for grass-fed beef tallow from pasture-raised cows to ensure higher concentrations of beneficial fatty acids like linoleic acid.

You can ask your local butcher for fat trimmings or purchase them from a grocery store known for quality meat products.

When you are ready to render tallow, you might find that leaf fat is considered the best choice due to its higher concentration of pure fat, resulting in a smoother and cleaner final product.

What is Rendering?

The rendering process involves melting down animal fat to separate the liquid tallow from the solid tissue.

This can be done using either the wet or dry rendering method. In the wet rendering method, the raw fat is simmered in hot water until the fat melts and separates from the tissue.

On the other hand, in dry rendering, the fat is melted without water. The resulting liquid tallow has a high smoke point and can be used for cooking or skincare products like these in our shop at the Honeyroot (example: The Honeyroot Pure, Unscented Grass-Fed Tallow Balm).

Is it Better to Render Tallow Wet or Dry?

When it comes to deciding whether to render tallow wet or dry, several factors come into play, including personal preference and available equipment.

Wet Rendering

Wet rendering involves simmering the raw beef fat in hot water until the fat melts and separates from the tissue, producing a hot liquid fat.

beef tallow wet rendering in a crockpot

This method is ideal for those seeking a straightforward process and is often favored because it’s super simple, especially for first-time renderers.

Dry Rendering

On the other hand, dry rendering entails melting the fat without water, typically using a low heat method such as in a crockpot or large stockpot.

This method allows for more control over the temperature and is preferred by some for its ability to produce a higher concentration of rendered tallow.

Regardless of the method chosen, both wet and dry rendering ultimately yield a final product with a high smoke point and versatile applications in cooking and skincare.

Does Rendering Tallow Smell Bad?

I’ve found that rendering tallow can definitely smell pretty strong. Some often describe this smell as unpleasant or “meaty.”

This odor is a result of the fats and proteins breaking down during the rendering process.

Some folks don’t mind it too much, but others find it pretty off-putting. Just make sure you’ve got some good ventilation going on, maybe crack a window or turn on a fan to help clear the air.

How to Render Tallow

  • Preparation: Start by ensuring the raw beef fat is at room temperature for easier handling. Cut the animal fats into small pieces or use a food processor to increase the surface area.
  • Choose Rendering Method: You can use the wet or dry method. So first, decide between wet or dry rendering. For wet rendering, use a crockpot or large stockpot and add fresh water. You want enough water to cover the fats. For dry rendering, simply place the fat pieces in a large bowl or metal bowl without adding water.
  • Heat: If using the wet method, set the crockpot to a low heat setting and allow the fat to slowly melt over several hours. For dry rendering, heat the fat gently on the stove over very low heat to avoid scorching. Stir occasionally with a potato masher or wooden spoon to ensure even melting. Avoid using high temperatures as this can degrade the quality of the tallow and result in a beefy smell.
  • Strain: Once fully melted, it’s time to strain the liquid fat. Line a fine mesh strainer or colander with a few layers of cheesecloth or a paper towel and carefully pour the melted fat through the strainer into a wide-mouth mason jar or large pot. This will remove any bits of meat or impurities, leaving you with rendered fat.

Purifying Tallow

At this point, you’ve got your tallow rendered. So, let’s talk about purifying tallow!

Do You Need to Purify Tallow?

Purifying tallow involves further refining the fat to remove impurities and odors.

This helps to remove any remaining impurities and ensures a finished tallow that’s free from any debris.

beef tallow purifying in a double boiler on stove

While it’s not always necessary, purifying can enhance the quality of the final product, especially for skincare applications.

How Long to Purify Tallow?

The duration of the purifying process can vary depending on factors such as the initial quality of the tallow and the desired level of purification.

Generally, purifying may take anywhere from 30 minutes to a few hours.

How Do You Get the Smell Out of Tallow?

Adding natural deodorizers like activated charcoal or baking soda to the melted tallow can help neutralize odors.

Additionally, storing the purified tallow in a clean, airtight container can prevent odors from developing over time.

100% grass fed tallow for rendering on sliced on cutting board

How to Purify Tallow

  • Melt Tallow: In a double boiler or heat-safe container, melt the rendered tallow. I don’t have a double boiler so I place the tallow in a glass bowl inside a big pot.
  • Strain Again: After melting, allow the tallow to cool slightly, then pour it through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove any remaining solids. Repeat this process if necessary to achieve a clearer tallow.
  • Add Salt: To remove any lingering odors, consider adding a tablespoon of salt to the melted tallow. Stir well to dissolve the salt completely.
  • Wait and Strain: Allow the salted tallow to sit for a few minutes to absorb any odors. Afterward, strain the tallow again through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth to remove any salt particles or impurities, resulting in purified tallow.
  • Storage: Allow the rendered tallow to cool and solidify at room temperature before transferring it to a clean, airtight container for storage. Use it as needed in cooking or skincare routines. For future rendering sessions, consider storing any excess tallow in the refrigerator or freezer to maintain its freshness.
rendered beef tallow stored in mason jars

Using salt as a natural deodorizer can effectively help neutralize odors in the tallow, providing a purified final product suitable for various applications.

In Summary

Tallow is a versatile and traditional fat that has been used for centuries in cooking and skincare. Rendering tallow can be done in a crockpot or on the stove, with options like leaf fat yielding particularly high-quality tallow. Grass-fed beef tallow is a great source of healthy fats and can be used to make various products, including tallow balm for skincare.

Joining a local Weston A. Price chapter or finding affiliate links for reputable suppliers can help you obtain quality ingredients for rendering your own meats into tallow. The process involves heating the fat until it melts, which can be done in an instant pot, on the stove, or in a crockpot at higher temperatures.

After the fat renders, it’s strained and allowed to cool in a cool place before being stored as the finished product. Tallow can be stored in airtight containers or even salt water for preservation. Whether you’re rendering tallow for the first time or looking to replenish your supply, making your own is an easy way to obtain a great source of grass-fed tallow without the extra cost associated with purchasing it from a butcher shop.

About The Author

Founder at The Honeyroot | Website | + posts

Kacie is a wife, homeschool mom of 4 boys (from toddler to teen), and a sixth generation homesteader with a passion for natural and sustainable living, creating a home that educates the mind and nurtures the soul, and reclaiming our independence like our ancestors before us.

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