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Rendering Fats

 
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Please share your favorite recipes and tricks for rendering fats. I make soap so I'm always looking to find more shelf stable fats. I also prefer cooking with tallow and lard.
This fall I've rendered and then pressure canned some venison tallow. I have rendered a bit of beef fat into two quarts, one for the counter and one in the refrigerator.
What are your favorite fats and why? What are your favorite rendering techniques? What is the most unique fat you've eaten even if you haven't rendered it yourself!
 
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Gail Jardin wrote:What is the most unique fat you've eaten even if you haven't rendered it yourself!



This immediately brought to mind the scene in "Fight Club" where Tyler Durden steals fat from the liposuction facility to make soap...

I'm curious to hear answers too.  I want to try making pemmican but so far, haven't had the nerve.
 
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Trace, I hate to say, that was also the first thing that came to mind as well......

I don`t have too many exotic options. I was brought up to find lard horrifying so just that is still sort of exotic to me.... I do render schmaltz and it is AMAZING.
In terms of techniques, I do my lard on the stovetop, slow cooker has not worked out too well. I save my cooking trimmings (I can't buy lard) so I don't generally have a whole slow cooker full, it is easier to just do it on the stove. I make about a cup and a half at at time. Schmalz is the same, in a large frying pan on the stove, also with saved trimmings. Since I generally add an onion, the frying pan on the stovetop seems to be the best way.
 
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I definitely save schmaltz as well - just reserving the drippings from whatever chicken dish I roast in the oven, then using the fat to saute in other recipes - very flavorful.  whole chickens or thigh quarters will have much more available fat than when parted out.
 
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I like to keep it simple-- we mainly focus on lard and tallow.

I like to use a slow cooker on LOW so I don't scorch it. And the leaf fat (kidney fat) is my preferred option-- I find it much milder than random scraps of fat from other places on the animal.
 
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We render about 50 lbs of pork fat a month. My tips, chop it up, don’t get it to hot, store it in the freezer.
 
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None yet, but I'm hoping to make better use of schmaltz next year. The chickens I butchered this fall looked like they were getting ready for winter, there was an impressive amount of fat inside each body cavity! I think each bird had enough to fry their own meat.

My family never used schmaltz. Is it used the same as lard or beef suet?
 
Tereza Okava
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I use lard and schmaltz as fat for stir frying or pan frying (we eat a lot of Chinese-style stir fry dishes) or a tiny bit in a soup for flavor/fat. They are both similar in terms of solidity and softness. If you add the onion, the schmalz has this lovely extra depth of flavor to it. Without the onion it`s also good, just it`s a chickeny lard. I don't like pastry or pie crust but I understand they both are pretty good for that, as well as tallow.
(Tallow, I`m not too sure about how it works or how people use it. )
 
Gail Jardin
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:None yet, but I'm hoping to make better use of schmaltz next year. The chickens I butchered this fall looked like they were getting ready for winter, there was an impressive amount of fat inside each body cavity! I think each bird had enough to fry their own meat.

My family never used schmaltz. Is it used the same as lard or beef suet?



I've never heard of schmaltz before. Is it duck fat or goose fat? I have never gotten a good hard, solid bird fat. It always turns out semi sludgy and I can it then think I did it wrong and keep it in the refrigerator.
 
Ellendra Nauriel
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Gail Jardin wrote:

Ellendra Nauriel wrote:None yet, but I'm hoping to make better use of schmaltz next year. The chickens I butchered this fall looked like they were getting ready for winter, there was an impressive amount of fat inside each body cavity! I think each bird had enough to fry their own meat.

My family never used schmaltz. Is it used the same as lard or beef suet?



I've never heard of schmaltz before. Is it duck fat or goose fat? I have never gotten a good hard, solid bird fat. It always turns out semi sludgy and I can it then think I did it wrong and keep it in the refrigerator.



Schmaltz is usually chicken fat, although according to Wiki it can also refer to goose fat. I've mainly seen it called for in Jewish recipes.

I think it's supposed to be relatively soft.
 
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Ellendra Nauriel wrote:Schmaltz is usually chicken fat, although according to Wiki it can also refer to goose fat. I've mainly seen it called for in Jewish recipes. I think it's supposed to be relatively soft.


I would classify duck and turkey fat in the schmaltz category too. It absolutely makes the BEST BISCUITS ever!
 
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Ever make popcorn with rendered bacon fat?  Your life will never be the same again.
 
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I like lard a lot. I can never seem to get enough of it for all our cooking needs though, I think I need to raise more pigs! I use lard mainly for stir-frying and searing, but also roasting and shallow frying if there's lots of it.

I use beef tallow/suet/dripping a lot, as it's easy to find grass-fed/hormone free beef fat here. I use this for deep frying, shallow frying, and roasting. I use it for stir frying/searing as well if there's no lard.
 
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we used to get bear lard (or so we called it - i guess lard is pork by definition?) in trade from a primitive living guy we know. weird complex richness. my favorite thing to do with it was to fry tostones with it (crushed green plantains), it gave them a deep richness.

i have a jar of mutton lard that i rendered from a old ewe i helped butcher a year ago. i mostly use it for the same thing!
 
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Curious for more inout not on recipes, but on storage.  We've kept lard on the shelf for a month or three with a cloth over the top of the jar.  The lard jars never stick around longer than that though, so we haven't tested long-term shelf life.  
Though these days we tend to freeze the lard and left-over-cooking-grease because I'm too lazy to filter it.  And leaving any kind of small debris in the lard might cause spoilage on the shelf.  So into the jar it goes and into the freezer when it's cooled!  I was filtering with cheesecloth for a long time, but it's a PITA when you have large quantities to do, and washing the cloth afterward wasn't very fun, and throwing it away just seems wasteful.  I've tried stainless steel filtration, but it clogs so quickly that it's almost not worth fussing with.  Alas...
 
Kate Downham
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When I want mine to keep as long as possible, I heat sterilise the jar and lid and keep them warm before pouring the warm fat into them. I've noticed a big difference in how long it will keep this way, compared to putting it in a jar that hasn't been sterilised. I keep my rendered fat in an unheated room in my house with a tile floor, where I open a window when it's cold outside to help cool it down more.
 
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My hubs is a retired chef, and buys meat by the whole, untrimmed muscle, then cuts it to his own specs. That means I get lots of fat, to render. Yesterday, he trimmed a brisket for corned beef, 'burnt ends', and some smoked brisket. In the process, he cut off about a crockpot (6qt) sized batch of fat, for me to render. Sometime in the next couple days, I'll grind it, dump it into the crockpot with about a quart of water, and set it on high, overnight. In the morning, I'll check on it, stir it, and probably add some more water, letting it keep going, until all the bits are translucent, and if needed, I'll add a little more water. Then, it gets unplugged, set out of the base, at room temp, until it's cool enough to go into the fridge. Once the rendered fat has all floated up and is solid, I'll break through it, drain off the water & chunks, and warm it up enough to vent of the last of the water that may have become trapped between pieces, pour most of it into jars, and tuck them away, for later use.

What doesn't get put away will have herbs added, to infuse. My favorites are rose petals, calendula petals, plantain, and comfrey. I may do a double infusion, this time - first a strong calendula infusion, then remove those petals, and do a strong rose infusion. This particular one will be great for moisturizing and healing, used as is, in ointments, lotion bars, and as a facial soap, with goats milk.

Edited for typo, & to add - My chickens LOVE the herbs, after they've been pressed. I line a potato ricer with a (dedicated) white, cotton hankie, stuff in as much of the herbs as will fit, then smash the oil out, until it won't give up another single droplet. Then, remove the herb puck, fill up the ricer, again, and keep going, till I'm through it all. The dry pucks then get crumbled up, and rationed out to the chickens, as treats.
 
Tereza Okava
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Jen, I do small amounts, since I'm using trimmings, and keep the jars in the fridge. I accumulate the trimmings in the freezer til a jar is empty, then it's time to make more.
My aunt used to make lard in huge volumes and store it in an airtight metal can (like a big paint can) in the cool part of her pantry til they killed a pig the following year (she had a fridge but could never get used to using it). I imagine it was sterilized but am not sure. She has left us recently but when I see my mother in law I'll ask her.
 
Jen Fan
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Technically, as far as I'm aware, filtered lard is just a pure oil, like olive oil or ghee or coconut oil.  If the container is clean there is no reason it shouldn't keep- however from what I've read lard needs to breathe or it may spoil.  Hence why I put a jar ring on the jar, with just cloth underneath it rather than a metal lid.  But I haven't put that to the test, I haven't left a sealed jar of lard on the shelf.  The lard itself should be sterile after boiling, and barring any contaminants on the jar itself, the oil should remain stable.  

I just haven't had a chance to test it.  ALTHOUGH.  Having just said that.  I remember I had about 1.5 gallons of rancid lard sitting ina a 5 gallon bucket with a piece of cheesecloth over the top- I left it in a corner for many months, waiting to get around to making soap out of it.  When I say "rancid" though, I mean it came from fat that was not fresh and the meat strips on the fat has started to go off.  It stunk while rendering, and after rendering it was off-gassing some nasty smells for awhile.  Surprisingly, by the time I got to making soap, the lard had a very neutral smell.  It remained semi-soft and never really firmed up.  Not sure what was up with that. It also totally failed to turn into soap, the whole batch was ruined and the fat never set up with the lye.  But that's beside the point.  I guess my point was musing that this 'already bad lard' sat for months without 'getting any worse'.  

I was just curious if anyone had personal experience with long-term shelf storage for rendered fats.  I'd like to ween off needing a freezer, relying more on water and pressure canning, smoking, curing, and drying.
 
Carla Burke
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Hmmm... I think maybe the 'off' meat tainted it? I've kept unfiltered bacon drippings sitting on my stove, for as long as I can remember. It gets hot, colds off, the jar gets messy, and it's opened, used, added to, and closed, often. My grandmas all (4, including step-parents parents) all did the same. They all told me basically the same thing: they just always had, their moms & grandmas always had... So, I'm not entirely convinced of the absolute need for sterilization, cold temps, or a perfect seal. That's NOT to say that I think they're a bad idea, especially for long term storage. In fact, I think it would be wise - I just wouldn't likely toss a batch unless there was something else 'off' about a specific batch.
 
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I render lard from the hog we get each year. I add the ground up fat to a stock pot with about an inch of water and a little salt in the bottom. I then slowly heat up the lard and let it render for several hours. The water keeps the fat from browning initially. I start to skim out and strain the melted fat as it forms and number my quart jars #1 through however many quarts we get. The first quart is very white when cooled and has the most neutral and non-porky flavor. It's the best for pie crusts if you don't want pork flavored pie (although that sounds kinda good). Each successive quart has more porky flavor due to the fat and small bits of meat cooking longer. Near the end, the water has evaporated and there is some fat and a lot of little fat bits that I let cook to a crunchy brown. I strain these yummy bits out from the last quart of fat. The bits make a nice addition to salad or soups. Tiny chicharrones.

I always have a quart of lard for cooking in the fridge but I freeze most of my quarts until I need them.

I love cooking with schmaltz. That's what I use to fry chicken and it adds so much flavor to the bird.
 
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I just returned from a trip to Germany. We were in a very fine restaurant in a lovely mountain Tal( valley) and were served fresh rolls with a small dish of a white fatty- looking substance. I was afraid to try it as it kinda looked like Crisco but my Uncle had a taste and informed me that it was goose fat! It was delicious and I scraped the bowl clean. A few days later we were served goose fat again- goose is popular in restaurants over the holidays- but this time it had some herbs mixed in with it. Yummy!

We render down the fat from our buck goats when we butcher. The tallow is great for cooking with and also for making a really nice salve/balm when mixed with oil and herbs. The tallow seems to make the salve more absorbable on the skin than a salve made with bees wax instead. The internal fat near the kidneys is supposed to be the most nutritious.
 
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Haven’t tried goose fat yet (or goat- first I’ve heard of it being rendered) but I can say for certainty that the best fries I ever ate were made in duck fat oil. Like making popcorn with bacon drippings, a whole new level of awesome!
 
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I regularly render schmaltz, in this case, chicken fat. I do this in the process of breaking down chickens and making stock. I don't currently raise meat birds, so I buy them in batches of 6-8 birds which I break down into pieces, usually boneless, skinless breasts, thighs, drumsticks and wings with the wing tip removed. Then the carcass and any other trimmings gets roasted in the oven until brown. I pour off the fat and simmer it for a while, then pour it into a mason jar and refrigerate. When solid, the fat gets spooned off and rewarmed, poured into a new mason jar and refrigerated for future use. The strong stock at the bottom gets added to the stock pot.

Mostly I use it for pie crust for chicken pot pies, or added to dumplings. It is lovely.

I agree with Julie Reed, french fries with duck fat are sublime, even better top them with some duck confit. I'm looking forward to getting ducks, and possible geese.

When I buy a hog, I also render lard. Never tried tallow, I'm not a big beef person.
 
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Lamb Tallow: The french dont seem to like the fat left on their meat so, when the butcher comes down to kill a friends lambs, all the fat, offcuts and bones go into a big bag or two for me! he saws the big bones for me and I use those for bone broth which I then pressure can. (90 mins 12lb) The fat is chopped into small pieces - as much as I can fit into the oven goes on low, the rest goes into the slow cookers overnight and then is finished off in the oven. It crisps up better. I use a steamer over a saucepan to let the fat drip through. It does work in a slow cooker, but all the 'bits' are sitting in the liquid fat, so I crisp them up in the oven the following day. It's filtered through cheesecloth inside a fine sieve goes into steriised jars. (Dont even try to clean the cheesecloth afterwards, it's impossible) Tops on, labelled and stored in a cool place, it lasts -till it's gone. Make sure all the bits are sieved out or they will go mouldy in the bottom of the jar.  I feed most of the cooked bits to the chickens as I absolutely love eating them. They kind of remind me of pork scratchings and the 'scraps' we would ask for at the fish and chip shops when I was a kid (middle of the last century LOL)

Beef/Veal Dripping: as above. The harder fat from around the kidneys I grate and freeze as suet

Butter: We always end up with far too much butter when we turn our neighbour's milk surplus into cream, andeven when I freeze it, goes a bit cheesy before we can use it up, so I clarify as much as I can, turning it into Ghee. I found a really good blog post on exactly how to do it here Once again, stored in cool place it's eaten before it goes 'off' You have to make sure you cook out the milk solids properly, and strain the fat really well, (two layers cheesecloth) - if there are milk solids in the bottom of the jar they will go mouldy. Also helps if you wash your butter really well when making it. We are currently half-way down the last-but-one litre of ghee that I made last March. Next harvest two months away so we're going to have to ration it. Ghee is excellent for spreading, makes yummy chips, and bakes well. Pretty much interchangeable with butter (dont high temp fry with butter it burns, but ghee doesn't), though I've never used it for buttercream (USA 'cake frostings' ?) No idea why not :o)

Not strictly on topic but pretty high in fat: We turn some of the cream into clotted cream yum yum. Loads of recipes on the web. I have tried doing it in a large cast iron casserole in the oven, but when it's done, you have to scoop the thick cooked stuff off the top of the liquid underneath and put it into another container. Just too much faffing about for me, and I'm mindful that every time we 'handle' it, it's an opportunity for contamination, so now prefer to put the fresh cream into canning jars and cook in them, in the oven. I occasionally lose a jar to cracking, but overall, for me, it's simpler and quicker method. I freeze the jars of clotted cream for long term stoarage, taking the thick stuff off the top when I've defrosted. I stir this up, then leave in the fridge a couple of hours, and it rethickens. Delicious with homemade scones and raspberry jam.
last year I put some of the canning jars of cream into the canner and processed. Hmm, not a success as maillard browning turned the lot a medium brown colourr and a weird taste to it. I'm going to experiment this year with less oven cooking time, and then putting them through the pressure canner.

Hope this helps.
Lesley
 
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I've just done the goose fat from a roasted goose. I've done beef fat this way before so I'm going to assume it works long term for goose to. (goose was harder as it's very soft)

Pour off the fat from the roasting tray and skim any off the stock when you make it, get it as cold as possible but not frozen, scrape any brown bits off the top and bottom, then add enough water to float all your fat and bring it up to the boil so everything is melted. cool again and pour off the brown water and scrape any brown bits off the bottom of the fat. Do this until the water is clear and the fat pure white. then pour off all the water put the fat chunks in a pan and heat until it stops spitting at you and all the water is gone pour it into jars while still hot leave as little space as possible put the lids on and store in a cool dark place.
 
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I have a slow cooker that has a high enough temperature to brown the crackling from rendering beef tallow,  My other slow cooker isn't quite hot enough, but if I used water to render, it would be perfectly fine.  However, we really like to eat the crackling bits afterward.  Our butcher saves up beef fat for us, and it's usually the less desirable muscle fat, rather than the kidney leaf fat.  That's ok--the crackling makes up for it.  

We chop the fat into bite sized pieces, dump into the slow cooker and turn on high for several hours, making sure to stir every hour or so.  When there's no more steam produced, they're crisp and done, but don't let them keep cooking, or the fat will start to smoke and is not so nice for cooking after.  We remove the crackling with a slotted spoon and salt them immediately, then eat like popcorn.  I like them even better when they're cold and greasy!  My husband prefers them hot.  

I don't bother straining the smallest bits of crackling out, as we generally use a batch of tallow within 1-2 weeks as our general cooking fat;  it doesn't have time to go off.  The only time those little bits started to go moldy was when I rendered in the cooler slow cooker;  at the end of 2 weeks, there was a little bit of blue mold at the bottom of the container where those bits had settled.  I cut it off and discarded, and we still finished off the rest.  I have also made a few candles in jars when we've had extra tallow, and some of these have been around the house for months (they are for emergency use) and seem to be fine.  With this, I made more of an effort to strain away any little bits, and I anticipate we could still eat them (in an emergency of course).
 
Sunny Baba
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G Freden:
I've been wanting to make candles from our goat tallow. Do they smoke as they are burning??
 
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I usually only get about 1 deer's worth of tallow a year which this year ended up being 1 3/4 gallons. Last fall I butchered some potbelly pigs and rendered a quite a bit of lard from them. I poured the freshly rendered still hot into jars and put the lids on, i only have a couple of jars left but when opened it smells and tastes just like it did over a year ago just stored in the cold room.
 
G Freden
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Sunny Baba wrote:G Freden:
I've been wanting to make candles from our goat tallow. Do they smoke as they are burning??


Hi Sunny, not really, no more than the petroleum based candles we also have.  They do have a very slight beefy aroma when burning, and the wick needs to be pretty stiff/thick to support itself in the melted tallow, but I think I've got it worked out (had to remelt several to get the wick size vs jar size right).  I don't know if goat tallow has similar properties, but I would definitely try it out.
 
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I have rendered a lot of sheep fat this year. I have done a few mistakes and I welcome confirming and how to do it better!

I have no oven so I did it in my biggest saucepan with a lid, and after cutting the pieces as small as possible. I could not do it all at once so I was filtering the liquid fat with a thin tea meash. I rendered until I was left with crunchy bits that were good to eat.

- After the color of the fat, I think it was a bit too much burned. It turned out quite white when solid. Maybe it is all saturated enough to not be too bad? Is it important to use the lowest possible heat?

- I wonder if all kinds of fats can me mixed together and rendered at the same time?

I have a batch from a female and a male, and gosh the smell and taste! How do you avoid this with male fat?

- I made the mistake to leave some little bits in the last jar I filled, and this one went moldy...
 
Xisca Nicolas
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I have also made jar from chicken, and it was surprising: everybody though it was ghee! This is when you give a seriously non vegetarian diet to hens.... The fat was yellow. My sheep fat is white.

I kept some just to test, and it was good even after 1 year. At 1y1/2 it started to smell rancid.
 
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