I dry render in an enameled cast iron pot after grinding it fine with my meat grinder. I send it through two grades of cheesecloth, the finest one is as it is poured into the freezer containers I am going to store it in. No water. Just low and slow. Ladle out as it melts.
I do a very similar process as reinbeau, where I cut the pieces up very small (if it's not already ground) and put it into my soapmaking crock pot on low. It takes a while, but eventually it all melts and I let it cook on low for a few hours (not letting it boil) until as much fat as possible has melted away from the sinew-y bits. Then I strain it through a coffee filter and let it sit on the counter until it hardens up, and then move it into the refrigerator.
The first time I rendered beef fat the butcher had taken a whole bunch of scraps and put them into the grinder, which certainly made the process easier, but there were quite a few beef bits that needed to be strained out at the end. The second time I did it I specifically ordered the fat from around the kidneys (aka leaf fat, I believe), and it arrived in big chunks but did not have meat bits attached and I feel it made for better soap. The tallow was less smelly, too.
I tried wet rendering once but didn't care for it.
I did the wet process. I ground it down as fine as I could with my food processor then put it in my pot with fresh water and boiled until it was all melted. Turned it off then let it harden overnight without disturbing it. Once the fat was hardened, I broke it unto large chunks and lightly scraped the gunk off of the bottom, tossed the water out of the pot and did it again. I did this three or four times. It gave a clean odor free white tallow. However, it was a long (several days) process and I would imagine not many people want to go through that much trouble. I actually have to buy some more beef fat to render because I don't have any clean tallow and only have about 4 pounds of fat in the freezer.
My DH does it exactly as Carabou do) Sure I had to keep an eye on it for a few times, now he is good
Teresa to make it with water does not work for me, never had, It is messy. Tried once, never again. I went back to old European way of doing it on very small heat and mix frequently.
I watched some youtube videos on rendering tallow. On some of them after the fat had turned into oil they put it in a pot with water, baking soda & salt. They boiled it in the water several times. Any thoughts on this? I added both salt & baking soda & now I'm worried I did more harm than good. Do you think my soap will still sapinify? I added about 2 tsp. Salt & approx 3-4 Tbsp of soda. My tallow is white but I still smell a faint odor if meat. Do you think I should put the tallow in a separate pot with clean water & boil it another 15 minutes or so?
That 'faint odor of meat' will not come through the soap. Seriously, I think people spend too much time worrying about that scent. I don't want anything, including water, in my tallow. I've never needed to 'wash' it.
I do the wet render method.
You will need:
1 large pot
2 smaller metal pots
Ground fatty beef scraps
5 lbs of scraps (Get them ground. I can't stress enough the huge difference this makes!)
Roughly equal amount of water.
1/4 c salt
3 T baking soda
A LARGE pot. You want the fat + water to take up 1/2 of less of the pot. There is a lot of bubbling and you don't want that all over your stove.
Heat on medium for 30 minutes, then lower to low. Simmer for 4 hours. You want the fat to be fully liquid and the little bits of meat to be only meat, no fat.
This is where I differ from some people - I strain the first time through a colander. Through away bits in colander (or feed to your dog). Let the mixture cool to room temp and then put in the refrigerator. You want the fat to slowly separate from the water. The water will have the dirty stuff and the fat will be clean.
Remove the fat cake from water. Discard water. Melt fat again with equal amount of water. You don't need as much salt and baking soda this time. I think I used like 3 T salt and 1 T baking soda the second time. When the fat is completely melted and liquid, pour through cheese cloth. I line my metal colander with cheesecloth and use clothes pins to hold it on.
I like to pour my melted fat into 2 smaller pots. Easier to maneuver and to fit in the fridge.
Beef and Pork
Beef makes harder soap.
Pork a little softer.
As an old meat cutter I use both.
Kidney Knob is the best.
If you do leaf lard(pork kidney knob) it is the greatest for making pie crust.
I render with a big pot on my BBQ grill burner or in side of it, low heat.