Tallow is made from animal fat. Traditionally, this was an item that women knew how to make as it is the primary ingredient in many soaps, can be made into candles, balms, and even be cooked with. I became interested in making tallow because I wanted to start making my own soaps. You can buy tallow but I really liked the idea of making as much of the soap by hand as I could. Plus, I was able to use more of our animals when it was time to process them.
Beef fat is the most commonly used for rendering into tallow. Your local butcher is a good resource for finding fat to use in this process. There are two different kinds of fats on the animal: suet which is the fat around the kidneys and body fat which is just under the skin. Of the two, suet is more desirable as it melts more easily, is clearer, and harder. It tends to be more globular and waxy looking while the body fat is more striated and often has some meat still attached.
To prepare your fat for rendering first remove any large bits of meat off it. (I usually cook these up and add them to the dog’s food later.) Next, cut your fat into 1/8-1/4 inch strips. Cold fat will cut much easier than warm fat. Slightly frozen works the best in the slicer. You could grind it if you wanted to. (Sometimes the butcher will do this for you for a fee.)
Once you have cut 5 pounds of fat you are ready to start the rendering process. Choose your desired method: stovetop, crockpot, roasting pan in the oven, or electric roasting pan. If you need help deciding, take a look at our posts for the benefits of each.