Rendered Beef Tallow

What is Suet vs. Tallow vs. KPH vs. Fat?

There's a lot of terms that can be thrown around concerning tallow and the rendering process. To put it simply, tallow is the oil rendered out of beef fat. When a cow is processed, there is trim fat that is generally found closer to meat cuts and there is KPH fat that encases the organs such as the kidney, pelvic and heart (this is KPH fat or suet). The KPH fat is harder, whiter, more nutrient dense and is cleaner (contains less meat and fewer blood vessels). To release the oils from the fat, the beef fat is heated high enough to melt the oils, thus separating them out. These oils are liquid tallow, which turns solid at room temperature and can be used for cooking, skincare and more. 

Does Beef Tallow Go Bad?

Once the tallow oils are separated from the fat tissues and organs, it becomes shelf-stable and can be kept unrefrigerated for a year or more. It is a self-stable ingredient that does not require a preservative as long as water and other contamination isn't introduced. To extend its shelf life, it can be kept in the freezer until you're ready to use it.

Tallow is a temperature sensitive ingredient. If you store it somewhere cooler like the refrigerator, it will be hard and more difficult to apply. If you keep it somewhere too warm, like your car, it may melt and its texture may be different once it cools back down, it doesn't change its effectiveness, however. It is a very stable ingredient and does not easily go rancid, unless mixed with a less stable oil like olive oil or emu oil. 

Does Beef Tallow Smell Bad? 

If the fat is heated too high, the meat and other impurities in the fat will cook (making "cracklings") and impart a stinky beefy smell into the liquid tallow. If the temperature is kept low, it's possible to render in a way to keep the beefy smell at a minimum. This decreases yield, but helps keep nutrients in tact.

There are other factors that determine the smell of the tallow. The animal's diet, the season, how it is processed, how long the meat is hung and what part of the cow the fat was harvested from will all change the end result.

The smell can range from that of burned meat if it was rendered too long or too hot, to a sweet almost honey-like smell if rendered gently from fat that was devoid of organs, blood and meat.

The end result is variable on natural factors and sourcing as well as the expertise and methodology of whomever is responsible for rendering. That's why many discover they prefer to buy from a reputable seller versus making their own at home.

Beef Tallow for Skincare How To Render

Is Beef Tallow the Same as Lard? 

No, beef tallow is rendered from the fat of cows and is kosher. Lard is rendered from pig suet (fat) and has a different smell, texture and nutrient profile. 

Is Tallow Vegan?

No, tallow is an animal- and fat-based product loaded with beneficial fat-soluble vitamins. As a fat, it has a similar fatty-acid profile to our own skin, and its nutrients are much more bio-available than what you find in plant-derived sources. We do not advocate for purely plant-based skincare or diets. 

 Learn More About Tallow's Nutrients and its Uses Here.