This past fall we purchased a half cow and butchered it ourselves. I am fortunate enough to have parents that have all the equipment we need to be able to do this. We purchase the cow from a friend of my parents and the cow gets taken to the meat butcher to be killed and cleaned, etc. My dad then goes to pick up our half that is cut in 4 big chunks. We cut the steaks and grind the beef.
I find this to be so much fun because I know where the beef came from and how it was treated while living. The cow gets to graze the fields and eat grass!! This year I decided to keep some of the fat from the cow to make tallow. I have never done this part before but I have been very interested in trying it for myself. I started researching on how to make tallow. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it is to make. This is what I did and it worked out great!
So, this has been an experience that I learned along the way. As I was working with the fat, I noticed that not all the fat feels the same. In some places the fat seemed softer. The fat that seemed the hardest was the huge chunks that the butcher cut out and sent with us. This fat seemed much better than the fat that I had to cut the meat out first. It seems to me that this fat would work better. I am not an expert on this. I am learning along the way and just sharing from my own experiences. I also learned that it’s better to have the fat really really cold when I’m cutting it into pieces and cutting any meat out. I needed to make sure that there was no meat on these pieces. If the fat started to warm up, it became slippery and was hard to cut.
Once I had all the pieces cut and cleaned from all meat, I put in my food processor to chop up in smaller pieces. This is not necessary but it helps to melt the fat faster. Make sure the fat is really cold to do this part. Trust me, it is less mess if it’s cold. I put the chopped fat in my crockpot. I set on high for about 2 hours and then set it on low for the rest of the time. It took around 6 hours to melt down. What happens during this time is that all the impurities from the fat rise to the top. When I thought it was done, I put a cheese cloth inside my colander, set the colander on a stainless steel bowl and strained all the impurity pieces out. I found this quite fascinating. At this point I forgot to take after pictures of the impurities sitting at the top and straining it. I promise, I will get better at taking more pictures.
I let the fat cool down until it looked cloudy. I put parchment paper in mini bread pan. The size of the pan depends on how much fat you put in the crockpot. I used some to make candles and so I did not have a lot left over. I poured the remaining melted fat into the pan and let set until it was hard. It turns out white! There is slight smell but not very strong.
This is the block of tallow and I am planning on trying to make soap with it. I will post my experience with that once I get it done. I keep in the refrigerator until I am ready to use.
Here are 2 candles I made! The pictures are not the greatest but the tallow is very white when it’s cold. I noticed that when it’s burning and starts to melt the top layer, it does turn yellow but there is no smell!! It burns even and no black suet when burning! I am so excited about these candles. They are toxic free!! These are all natural!! The candles were easy to make. I made sure I used canning jars. Do not just use any jar. Canning jars are made for high heat and the odds are they won’t crack. Other jars might crack. I purchased the wicks from Amazon. I hot glued the wick to the bottom of the jar. When the melted fat was cooled some, I poured it in the jar. To keep the wick from moving to the side, I pinched it with a clothes pin and set it on top of the jar. It helped keep it in place until it was hard. Once it was hard, I cut the wick down. That’s it! It really is that simple! I painted the penguin and the tree to give it a winter look! The penguin one was a gift to my sister. She loves penguins! They are cute I must say!