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Comparing rendering methods (long)

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eyeroll

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Reading over recent threads about soaping with lard/tallow and whether there's a noticeable odor to the soap got me thinking. I got some beef fat yesterday and decided to compare methods to see if there was a difference in yield (my main concern) and end product of the fat.

Caveats: I don't sell, so the soap is just for personal use. I'm also not a vegetarian/vegan and my sense of smell isn't that sensitive (I think generally my senses aren't that sharp, except perhaps for my sense of foreboding).

Method 1: Added ground beef fat to a crockpot with no additives. Cooked on low for about 2.5 hours. Strained the tallow through cheesecloth into a jar. Noticed I had spilled all over the counter. Swore. Noticed there was a gunky layer at the bottom of the jar. Swore. Poured hot tallow into a bowl and chilled overnight. Tried to give the dogs the hamburger-looking spent fat, which one of them actively disliked and spit out (but I digress). The next morning, took the solid tallow out and scraped off the gelatinous bit stuck to the bottom. Re-melted and poured into a jar. Didn't strain a second time.

Method 2: Added ground beef fat to a stockpot with water and some salt. Boiled for about 2.5 hours, until the water was pretty much gone. Yelled at the dogs to go outside and stop licking the stove. Strained the tallow into a bowl and chilled overnight. The next morning, took the solid tallow out and scraped off the jelly stuck to the bottom. Rinsed the tallow disc in cold water. Remelted and simmered until the fat stopped crackling and popping. I had to strain this a second time as there were darker bits in the fat and stuck to the pan. Realized the jar I was using wasn't big enough. Swore. Strained the remainder into Tupperware. (I know some people will chill/rinse/reboil more than once, but I'm too impatient.)

Observations: Method 1 smelled much stronger (some would say worse) while rendering. The jelly on the bottom of the chilled tallow was bigger and darker, and the liquid tallow is a darker yellow, and smells stronger. I got 64% yield on the batch from method 1.

Method 2 smelled much less while cooking; the jelly on the bottom of the cold tallow was tiny and very pale. The liquid tallow is paler and smells noticeably milder, but there is still a faint odor to it. I got 43% yield on this.:Kitten Love:

Dogs don't like spent beef fat, but they're fans of fat trimmings fried up and are willing to be underfoot and repeatedly stepped on to get them. Also, I swear too much.

Conclusion: For my purposes, it's not worth it to render fat in water and salt. The lower yield and the few extra steps aren't enough to merit the decrease in odor in the final tallow product. If you're sensitive to the animal smell, though, it could be worth it to you.
 

new12soap

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I have never tried the crockpot method, but I did use the stovetop in water method and was very happy with the results. I did it a bit differently tho, I brought it to a boil, hit it w the SB to break up the stubborn chunks, then as soon as all the fat was completely melted I turned off the heat. As soon as it was cool I put the whole pot, water and all into the fridge overnight. In the morning I pried the solid disc of fat off the top, scraped off the icky stuff underneath and rinsed it in cold water. I dumped out the water in the pot, rinsed the pot and filled w cold water, put the fat back in and melted the whole thing again, cooled, and back into the fridge. The next day I had a beautiful solid white disc of tallow with almost no odor at all.

I now buy my tallow from soaper's choice :D

I also swear way too much.
 

neeners

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Hmmm......I called the local pork producers co-op, and they don't sell lard, but will sell me pig fat. I'm not sure I'm brave enough to render my own fat yet....maybe when I want to make some old fashioned lye soap (I love the smell of that stuff.....). What does it smell like? The rendering part I mean
 

eyeroll

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What does it smell like? The rendering part I mean
It smells..ummm....meaty. I'm sorry, that's a horrible description. It doesn't smell like meat while it's cooking, but like the house smells after you have cooked meat. Does that make sense? It is a very, very rich smell; DH prefers I do it outside, which I do when it's not below freezing.

I think the tallow itself smells a little nutty. I like that smell, and we cook with the tallow too, so I like that it has some flavor.

I say get a couple pounds of pig fat and give it a try. See if your butcher will grind it for you, though; that novel I wrote doesn't even include all the swearing I did while grinding it. The fat is cheap, and I really love animal fat soaps.
 

new12soap

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When I did it the smell was kind of like faint hamburger cooking smell.

I am telling you, soaper's choice. Tallow and Lard. Actually I buy lard in buckets at the grocery store.
 

dixiedragon

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It smells like a beef roast to me. If you are meat eater, it smells pretty good at first, but since rendering can take HOURS the smell starts to get old and greasy and it seems to "stick" around.
 

Happysoap

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I use the oven method. The crock pot did not work for me. I found that the oven is the best method for temp control which in turn controls the smell. I keep the temp at about 50C and let it melt for hours. My tallow has no or very little scent after rendering. Sometimes remelting the tallow in salted water gets the smell out.
 

neeners

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hrmmm....maybe i'll give it a go at some point.....
 

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