Tallow is rendered fat from a cow, goat, or sheep. It is a ancestral food that is deeply nourishing and can be utilized in various other preparations to boost skin health, too.
Beef tallow is rich in vitamins A, B12, D, E, & K, choline, and fatty acids — including CLA, which has immune boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.
Tallow is a great source of fat, which is essential for the health of your immune system, bones & joints, brain, skin, heart, and more. Having enough fat in your diet allows you to absorb key nutrients, like fat soluble vitamins.
Tallow makes a great cooking oil, as it has a higher smoke point than many oils —about about 420-480°F. Smoke point is the temperature at which an oil starts to smoke, burn, and lose much of its nutritional value. Tallow can be used for frying, baking, and roasting. I like to fry eggs in tallow, as it imparts a nice flavor.
Another way I love to use tallow is in handcrafted skin care products. Nourishing and deeply moisturizing animal fats, like lard & tallow, have been used by traditional cultures for thousands of years to soothe and heal skin.
Today, modern science supports this ancestral knowledge. Like our cell membranes, tallow fat is typically 50-55% saturated, making it quite compatible with our skin and beneficial for its health.
Tallow contains vitamins A, D, & E, which are crucial for skin health. These essential vitamins help to reduce redness, wrinkles, age spots, and dry skin. Vitamin A is essential for skin health as it boosts production of collagen and new skin cells.
Vitamin D boosts collagen production and promotes clear complexion by reducing acne, dark spots, and fine lines. Vitamin E moisturizes skin and protects it from UV damage that can cause cancer, age spots, and wrinkles.
Tallow is also rich in Vitamin K, which is important for proper skin healing and can be important for reducing stretch marks, dark under eye circles, scars, and spider veins.
Tallow also makes a wonderful addition to handcrafted soaps, as it helps boost skin health and improves the hardness of the bars, so they last longer.
Rendering tallow is a pretty simple process. The first step is sourcing high quality suet, which is the fat found in the tissues surrounding an animal’s organs. Suet from a cow, goat, or sheep can be used to make tallow. Fat rendered from pigs is typically called lard and has a different consistency and flavor than tallow.
Recently, I was lucky enough to be gifted a large bag the fat from healthy, happy goats at our friends’ farm. But, I’ve also used beef fat on many occasions. The flavors are slightly different, but other than that the two are quite similar.
To make tallow, you will need:
- suet from a cow, goat, or sheep
- large heavy bottomed pot
- metal strainer/cheese cloth
- clean, wide-mouth jars or silicone molds — whatever you plan to pour your finished tallow into
Cut the fat into small chunks, removing any large bits of blood or meat that may be stuck to the fat.
Throw the chopped fat chunks into a large pot. Heat on low, stirring occasionally. The fat will begin to melt. Keep stirring and checking the tallow as it renders, to ensure it doesn’t burn. This will take some time, longer if there’s more fat to render.
As it cooks down, the fat turns into a bubbling golden liquid with small chunks floating at the top. You can strain out the liquid as you go, leaving the solids in the pot. When these pieces turn dark golden brown, the tallow has finished rendering.
Pour the tallow through a fine mesh strainer (be sure to use metal, as plastic will melt!) or cheese cloth into clean, wide-mouth jars (the wide mouth just makes it easier to get the tallow out) or silicone molds. Once the tallow cools it will be hard and waxy. It’s easy enough to chisel a little bit out of a jar for cooking purposes, but for soap and skin care product making, I like to have tallow bars so I can add a lot to a recipe quickly & easily.
Enjoy using your tallow in various culinary and skin care preparations. This nourishing fat is versatile!
Bowman, Joe. “The 4 Best Vitamins for Your Skin.” Healthline. July 30, 2020. https://www.healthline.com/health/4-best-vitamins-for-skin
Fallon, Sally. Nourishing Traditions. New Trends Publishing, Inc., 2001.
Gardner, Andrew. “Traditional Nourishing and Healing Skin Care.” The Weston A. Price Foundation. February 4, 2013. https://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/know-your-fats/traditional-nourishing-and-healing-skin-care/
Gore, Labrada. “Hello Tallow.” Weston A. Price Foundation Podcast. September 25, 2017. https://www.westonaprice.org/podcast/97-hello-tallow/
Levy, Jillian. “What Is Tallow? Top 5 Reasons to Use This Form of Fat.” Dr. Axe. June 27, 2020. https://draxe.com/nutrition/tallow/
Whelan, Corey. “The Benefits and Limits of Vitamin A for Your Skin.” Healthline. August 20, 2018. https://www.healthline.com/health/vitamin-a-for-skin