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How to Make Tallow Part 2 (Method 4 of 4); Rendering Tallow Using the Stovetop Method

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Take a look at our fat preparation post for how to prepare it for rendering. There are multiple methods of rendering fat into tallow including on the stovetop, in a roasting pan in the oven, in a crockpot, and in an electric roasting pan on the counter. There are different pluses and minuses to each method. I actually use a combination of all of these methods, so that I can render more at a time since I tend to do large amounts. The benefit of using the stovetop is that it is the fastest method for rendering. The drawback is that you are at an increased risk of burning your tallow, because of this you have to watch it much more closely. There is also a slightly greater chance of a grease fire if it bubbles over which again necessitates it being watched more closely.

After preparing your fat, the first step in the rendering process is weighing out 5 pounds of fat or suet. The suet is easier to work with and has a better end product but you can use either. Choose a deep pot. You only want the fat to halfway fill your pan as this gives you a little buffer for stirring. A long sleeve shirt may be a good idea so if there is any popping oil your arms are protected. An apron is an option too to help save your clothing.

There are 2 different methods used, the wet method where you add salt and water to the fat while cooking down, and the dry method where you just add salt. I prefer the dry method. The wet method decreases the chances of it burning but increases the time it takes to render down. For the dry method, add 5 pounds of fat and 1/4 cup of salt into your pot. Turn your stove on to medium-high and stir regularly. Be very vigilant as if you do burn the fat it may darken the color and give it a strong odor. Adding a lid will help to trap the heat and decrease cooking time.

Cooking down the fat and the suet looks a little different. Fat tends to get kind of hard and rubbery before turning into a fried, rind-looking thing. Whereas, suet will melt off its little latticework and have very few chunks left behind. The goal is to get all the little pockets of liquid fat out of your piece whatever type you are using. As it cooks down more, it can be helpful to trap the fat against the sides of the pan and push out some of those pockets. I start pulling out any chunks that look done or like they are turning a little too brown as it is cooking. If it looks like there are still pockets of fat in it, I save them for putting into a batch in the crockpot at the end of all my other renderings. In fact, I often pull the fat chunks out before they are done and do this as it gives me a really nice, light-colored tallow. I place them all in a metal bowl and save them for later.

Remove the pot off the heat and allow it to cool a little but not so much that it begins to solidify. I like to use the plastic storage containers as my molds as they fit in the refrigerator well and have lids that allow stacking. They are made of plastic though, so I don’t want to melt them with my tallow being too hot.

After the fat has cooled sufficiently, pour the melted tallow through a strainer into the mold. I like to use a splatter screen as it has very small holes so it stops the pieces from going through it but will still allow the oil to go through. I do have to go slowly since it is wider than my mold and may spill over otherwise. There tends to be sediment at the very bottom of the pan and I just try to avoid pouring that in at all if possible. You can shake your screen a little to get the oil through but I don’t recommend much more than that as you don’t want to force the bits to go through the screen and get into your tallow.

Place the mold in a cool place and allow it to harden. I like to use the refrigerator as it speeds up the process. After it has hardened, remove it from the mold by turning it upside down on the counter. If you have difficulty getting it to release, try to flex the bottom or run the bottom of your container under hot water for a few seconds. It should pop right out.

Any sediment or impurities should have sunk down to the bottom of your mold. If there was more meat on your pieces, you may even see a gelatinous protein on the bottom. These can now be scraped off and discarded. I like to use a spoon for this step. I save all the waste from making my tallow and add it to the dog food later. If you don’t have a dog, you can mix it with peanut butter and roll it in birdseed as a treat for the birds.

At this point, all you have to do is cut the tallow into usable chunks and store it in the refrigerator or the freezer. It should be good for at least a year.

I like to do 2 more steps for mine. I like to purify it, which pulls out more of the impurities and then I like to can it so I am not using up freezer space and it is good for at least 3 years this way. If you want to see how these steps are done, take a look at our posts for them.

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