Beef fat is a versatile cooking ingredient that can be used for a variety of dishes. However, before you can use beef fat, you need to render it to produce tallow.
This process involves melting the fat and separating it from the meaty bits (and other stuff that might be on them).
To render beef fat well, you need the right temperature. Too low, and the fat won’t melt fully. Too high, and the fat will turn dark and taste bad. The best temperature for rendering beef fat is 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit.
In this article, we learn the temperature that beef fat renders, as well as the steps involved in the process. We will also provide some tips for rendering beef fat successfully.
What Temperature Does Beef Fat Begin To Melt?
The transformation of beef fat into tallow starts at surprisingly low temperatures.
As the thermometer edges upwards of 113°F – 122°F (45-50°C), the magic begins to happen.
The beef fat embarks on its metamorphosis, starting to liquify and subsequently producing what many chefs refer to as ‘liquid gold’ (tallow).
Tallow is a nutritious and versatile cooking oil with a multitude of uses in the kitchen from cooking to even DIY crafts.
At What Temperature Does Beef Tallow Melt?
Now, for the beef tallow you’ve produced, after it solidifies, it won’t start to melt until it reaches temperatures between 38-48°C (100-118°F).
For comparison sake, tallow obtained from the rendered fat of sheep, has a slightly higher melting point and requires temperatures from 45-50°C (113-122°F) to transition into liquid form.
How Do You Know When Beef Fat Is Rendered?
Rendering beef fat might seem like a complex task.
It’s actually quite straightforward and can truly enhance your cooking.
But how do you know when beef fat is rendered?
Rendering is the process where cubes of fat melt and shrink, starting to brown just a bit on the surface, signaling that clear fat has successfully separated from unwanted solids.
At the end a golden yellow liquid forms that turns creamy white upon cooling.
In order to maintain the purity of this ‘liquid gold’ as it is commonly referred to, it is essential to strain the fat through a fine mesh strainer or a paper towel.
This simple process efficiently removes any lingering impurities.
And if you’re wondering how to distinguish rendered fat from raw, look for its trademark liquefy transformation.
When you start off with a sizable chunk of beef fat, it will break down almost completely into this precious golden liquid as it renders.
Any meaty bits that might have accidentally slipped into your pot don’t go waste either – they conveniently cook up in the bubbling oil, and these are delicious to snack up on.
Do You Add Water When Rendering Beef Fat?
Here we go! The confusion!
To clear up this, it is important to clarify the two main ways of rendering beef fat—one with dry heat and the other with wet heat.
Dry heat rendering involves cooking the beef fat on its own in an oven, stovetop or crockpot.
This method allows for pure isolation of the flavors from the fat and doesn’t require any additives.
On the other hand, the wet heat method incorporates a touch of water in your pot.
The reason behind this?
It’s all about avoiding premature burning, not to make the process more efficient or work.
When a small amount of water is added at the bottom of your cooking vessel—be it in an oven, on a stovetop or within a crockpot—it provides that initial buffer to prevent your precious beef fat from scorching before it even starts to melt.
As you maintain even heat during cooking, the water will naturally evaporate throughout the process, because water doesn’t mix with oil!
What you’re left with at completion isn’t a watery mess but rather pure liquid gold – unadulterated rendered beef fat.
Why Add Salt When Rendering Tallow?
There are two crucial reasons for adding salt during tallow rendering.
Firstly, salt aids in drawing out unwanted moisture from the fat (through washing), which aids to facilitate a smoother rendering process and ends with a clean, pure product.
Secondly, salt acts as a natural preservative that extends the shelf-life of your rendered fat.
But there’s another hidden benefit – salt assists in preventing the fat from scorching or clinging tenaciously to your pot.
This keeps your cooking equipment safe and makes cleaning up after rendering significantly easier.
When using the wet rendering method, which involves introducing some water into the pot with your fat, the recommended portion is about 1 tablespoon of salt for each pound of fat.
This method ensures that you not only get beautifully-rendered tallow but also prevent unwanted elements like burning and spoilage.
How To Render Beef Fat Using Different Methods
Oven-Rendered Beef Fat
Start by chopping up your beef fat into small morsels and place them into a roasting pan with just enough water to cover the bottom. The smaller they are chopped the quicker and more efficiently they melt.
Preheat your oven to 250°F, a low and slow temperature that will coax out that liquid gold from the solid materials.
Expect this process to take approximately three hours, but remember to stir every 30 minutes to ensure even rendering.
Finally, strain the golden liquid through a cheesecloth or paper towel into a jar, what you have now is pure, unadulterated beef fat.
Smoky Flavors with Smoker
If you’re after an additional depth of flavor in your rendered beef fat, consider using a smoker.
Simply cube your beef fat and place it in an aluminum pan with a touch of liquid.
Fire up your smoker and set it to 220°F before introducing the pan.
Allow several hours for the slow simmering magic to happen then strain the smoky liquid through a cheesecloth into your storage jar.
The Classic Stovetop Rendering Method
Cut your beef fat into bite-size pieces before placing them in a large pot filled with water.
Bring this mixture up to boil then immediately lower the heat for consistent simmering action that will last around two hours with casual stirring needed throughout.
As before when done correctly and strained, you’re left with an aromatic jar of clear beef fat ready for your next cooking adventure.
In an instant pot
Dice the beef fat and place it in the instant pot with some water.
Set it to high pressure for 90 minutes, then release the pressure naturally.
Strain the liquid fat through a cheesecloth or a paper towel into a jar.
In a slow cooker
Chop the beef fat into small pieces or even ground them, and place them in the slow cooker with some water.
Set it to low and cook for 8 to 10 hours, stirring once or twice.
Strain the liquid fat through a cheesecloth or a paper towel into a jar.
Cut the beef fat into small pieces and vacuum seal them in a bag.
Place the bag in a sous vide container or stock pot filled with water as per manufacturer’s instructions and preheated to 185°F using your VacMaster SV1 and cook for 2 hrs.
Cut a corner of the bag and drain the liquid fat into a jar.
What To Do With Rendered Beef Fat?
Cook With It
Beef tallow has a high smoke point, so it’s great for deep frying and any cooking that requires high heat. It can also be used as a substitute for oil or butter in recipes.
DIY Candle, Soap And Body Mosturizer
Believe it or not, tallow can be an integral component in artisanal crafts such as candle and soap making. The rich fat acts as a solid base, lending both substance and a gentle aroma to homemade candles, soaps, and even body products.
Use It To Maintain Your Wooden Utensils
Tallow can also play a crucial role in maintaining the health of your wooden utensils. Yes! Using tallow to condition and protect your wooden furniture, cutting boards or tools from wear and tear not only extends their longevity but also enhances their natural beauty.
Tallow can also enrich homemade animal feed.
The high-calorie content fat source will keep your livestock robust and energetic.
And if that weren’t enough, chicken keepers can find value in applying tallow too! They can use it to protect their fowl’s combs and wattles from frostbite during chilly weather.