Since tallow isn’t a very familiar word with many these days, you might be wondering, what is tallow? How can tallow be used?
Until more recent times, almost everyone had a much closer connection with their food’s source and preparation than most do now. Our great grandparents were probably experts on all sorts of traditional ingredients, including things like beef tallow. Not only did they know where their food and other daily necessities came from, they probably helped grow or make them!
Today, most Americans are so disconnected with where our food is grown and even prepared. We’ve lost touch with traditional foods and practices that were second nature to our ancestors.
Why does this matter? It turns out that there is a lot of wisdom not only in having a close connection with our food’s source, but also in the types of foods that were traditionally eaten, compared with what most Americans eat today.
Beef tallow is one such traditional treasure. Our great grandparents probably used it all the time, but who even knows what tallow is these days?
So What Exactly is Tallow?
Tallow is simply rendered beef fat. The rendering process cooks the raw fat, and turns it into a hot liquid (or solid at room temperature) fat. The highest quality beef tallow comes from the fat around the kidneys. Also called leaf fat, this beef fat from the kidney area is the highest in all the various nutrients that beef fat, especially grass fed beef fat, contains. The fat from near the kidneys is the choicest for rendering into tallow, but any beef fat can successfully be rendered.
Why is Tallow so Great?
Beef tallow from healthy, grass fed cattle is truly an amazing thing. It contains a huge array of nutrients. These are beneficial both internally and externally. Here are some of the nutrients found in grass fed beef tallow:
- Vitamins A, D, K, & E, & B12
- Rich in minerals
- Conjugated Linoleic Acid with natural anti-inflammatory properties
- Palmitoleic acid (omega 7) which is one of our skin’s basic building blocks
- Palmitic acid helps improve the protective barrier function of skin
- Stearic acid helps to repair damaged skin, and improves skin’s flexibility and suppleness
As you can see, it’s a pretty impressive list of nutrients that benefit us both inside and out. It’s important to note that these nutrients are far more abundant in grass fed cattle than grain fed cattle.
Traditional cultures prized animal fats such as beef tallow because of their health benefits from all of these important nutrients. They recognized that these different vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids helped in prolonged vitality into old age, easy fertility, healthy children and the prevention of tooth decay. It’s time to ditch the toxic, hydrogenated “vegetable” oils and return to the healthy fats, like beef tallow, that our ancestors enjoyed!
McDonald’s French Fries and Tallow
Here’s an interesting bit of trivia: Back in the day, McDonald’s used to cook their French fries in beef tallow. At the time, it was widely considered to be a healthy choice for a cooking oil. McDonalds only stopped using tallow and switched to partially hydrogenated vegetable oils flavored with MSG when animal rights activists prompted them.
While we’re on the subject of French fries, it is worth noting that beef tallow does make the most delicious homemade French fries you’ll ever eat. Be sure and try it! Instead of relying on toxic MSG for flavor, you get a natural, nutrient-dense taste. Super yummy!
Tallow as the Ideal Cooking Oil
With its wide array of beneficial nutrients, and an impressively high smoke point of 400 – 420°F, beef tallow makes a perfect fat for sautéing, frying, and even baking. I’ve already mentioned French fries, so you’re probably thinking about what other delicious things you can fry in tallow. I’ll give you some more ideas: doughnuts, fritters, fried chicken… Are you hungry yet? Beef tallow also makes a delightfully flaky piecrust or pastry dough. I don’t know about you, but it makes me happy to know that when made with traditionally prepared, nutrient dense ingredients, these foods don’t have to be forbidden, guilty pleasures, but delicious treats that can be fully enjoyed!
Get Back into the Kitchen
As I mentioned in the beginning, most Americans have lost the close connection that our ancestors had with where their food comes from and how it is prepared. More and more people are starting to realize what a terrible toll the standard American diet is taking on our health, and have started to turn again to more traditional ways of cooking and eating. By learning these age-old practices of rendering and cooking with traditional foods like tallow, we can start to have that connection with our food’s source once again.
Buying a big huge chunk of beef fat, grinding or cutting it up and rendering it into tallow is a sure way to get down and dirty and start having a closer connection with where your food came from. And, if you’re rendering tallow, some delicious doughnuts or French fries just might result… what a nice reward for time spent connecting with your food!
What Will You Make?
Hopefully you’re familiar now with what tallow is, why it is so beneficial, and why it is worth bringing back into our kitchens. I encourage you to find a local farmer and get some beef fat. Rendering it into tallow is totally doable process, and I show you how to do it from start to finish in this post here.
Once you have your tallow, what will you make? What delicious foods inspired you?
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More Things You Can Do with Beef Tallow
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