As a family who loves meat, but seeks to raise animals in a way that honors their life, we try to use as much of the animal as possible. For instance, when we butcher our chickens, the cleaned feet go in the stock pot, and the feathers go into our compost pile. From our pig, we use every possible cut of meat, and render the fat into snow-white lard that we use for cooking and frying.
In commercial meat processing situations, fat is usually collected and rendered for animal feed. Even a small-scale pasture-raised beef farming friend of mine recently lamented the fact that his animals’ gorgeous fat was largely considered waste product. If you raise your own cattle, or if you purchase a side of beef, consider rendering the fat into tallow. You can find easy, step-by-step instructions on how to render tallow here:
Once you’ve made tallow, what will you do with it? Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Five Uses for Tallow
1. Make soap
Tallow is an ideal fat for soap making, both because of its skin-nourishing qualities, but also because it is a homesteader’s fat. This post will walk you through the process of purifying tallow for soap making, and when you’re ready to give it a try, check out these two recipes:
2. Use it for cooking
In our home, we use lard for high-temperature cooking or frying. But tallow would be just as delicious, and if you make it at home, you have an inexpensive and local fat supply. (Just as a side note, I saw a pint jar of tallow for sale in a natural food store yesterday at a mind-blowing price of $18.95!!). Quinn from Reformation Acres says, “If you’ve got tallow to use for it make fried chicken! Holy macaroni, nothing compares!” You might also try a recipe like these Elderflower Fritters.
3. Make candles
Pure tallow can be used to make very simple emergency candles. Tallow can also be added to beeswax candles to cut expense. Our neighbors use up to 50% tallow in their homemade candles. They advise that when adding tallow to candles, make tapers a bit thinner, so they burn cleanly and evenly.
4. Make laundry soap
Once you’ve mastered tallow soap making, laundry soap is quite simple to make with the addition of washing soda and perhaps some essential oils for a pleasant scent. Tallow laundry soap cleans well, but is gentle on clothing.
5. Nourish your skin
Tallow can be added to balms or lotion bars to create a moisturizing skin care product. I’ve been using a new grass-fed tallow balm called Crunchy Balm, created by Emilie at The Toups Address. She has done a really nice job creating a product that feels nourishing but not greasy, and the addition of essential oils add a pleasant scent.
Photo credit: CrunchyBalm.com
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