Some of my long-time readers may remember that over two years ago I rendered my own beef tallow and shared the experience with the world. It was actually one of my first “Paleo” adventures, as my wife and I went from butcher shop to butcher shop in our area trying to find someone that would sell us some fat. Finally, our local Whole Foods agreed to set aside their fat as they trimmed it off their cuts of meat – not the most ideal source of fat since it came from all kinds of cuts, and was often full of muscle meat, but it worked for a while. And it was free!
My friends at US Wellness Meats recently started selling bison fat, and considering the fact that I had a really good experience with their bison stew meat last year (recipe: Hearty Bison Stew), I wanted to try rendering my own bison tallow. I’m glad I did – the fat was of perfect quality, and the tallow came out both mild and delicious.
(yields 3/4 cup)
1 lb bison fat
3 cups water
This style of rendering fat is called “wet rendering” since I use water to help in the rendering process. Alternatively, “dry rendering” is also an option, wherein you just cook the fat on a low heat until the fat renders out – think of it like getting oil out of bacon. The problem with dry rendering is that you could potentially burn the fat, and make the tallow taste bad.
I was very impressed with the quality of tallow I got from US Wellness Meats. It was of a beautiful white color, and almost all of the meat/muscle was already cut off from the fat. It usually takes hours to trim away the meat from most fat you get, so this bison fat was a very awesome experience for me.
Take the fat and cut it into smaller pieces, cutting away any pieces of muscle that you find. By the way, the reason you’d want to trim away any muscle is because leaving the meat in the tallow can make the tallow turn rancid very quickly.
Next, put the fat into a pot and add about three cups of water. There should be plenty more water than there is fat in there. This is to allow the water to potentially cook off as it simmers without fear of scorching your pot.
Next, it’s just a waiting game. For the next three hours, let the fat simmer and cook down, on low heat. This can also be done in a crockpot. The picture above is after two hours.
This is after three hours. I’ve heard of people simmering their fat for up to six hours to maximize their rendering, which is fine, as long as you keep some water in the pot.
Next, strain the fat through a colander lined with a cheese cloth, collecting the water and rendered fat in a fat separator that’s underneath the colander. Use a spoon or potato masher to make sure you squeeze all of the liquid out of the fat.
And here we’re going to use a fat separator for the opposite purpose – to get rid of the non-fat! Pour out as much water as you can – you probably won’t be able to get all of it out, but that’s fine. I’ve got you covered.
Pour the rendered fat and remaining water into a glass jar, preferably one that has a wide mouth, and refrigerate overnight (uncovered).
The next day, simply flip the jar over, the water will simply drain out of the sides surrounding the tallow. You could use a fork to help it along, but it seriously took me about 20 seconds to pour the water out.
That’s it! Cover and keep in the fridge for a few weeks, spooning some out as you need it. It has a very mild, sweet flavor to it that I found delicious.
19 thoughts on “Bison Tallow”
It’s a great idea. No allergies,no hydrogenated fats and so on…..
Thank you so much
Awesomeidea going to Whole Foods and taking the scraps. Whenever I am done cooking my sugar free bacon from USM I like to save the fat and cook with it. That stuff is gold dust.
What do you use it for?
Lindsey, you could use it for a number of things, but we like to use tallow as a frying fat since it is relatively tasteless. It goes really well with pan-fried potatoes!
Reminds me of a Buffalo BBQ we had every 4th of July in the town I went to High School in.
Do you not use butter or other cooking oils then? Interesting. I guess it’s much like how folks use bacon grease to cook with. I would never think to make my own tallow though. Can you preserve/can it?
We use butter, coconut oil, and olive oil, but I prefer to use animal fats for higher heat cooking because it’s a generally stable fat at higher temps. Tallow and lard can be frozen for up to a year, so if we have more than we can use in a few weeks we usually throw it in the freezer and chop chunks of it off as we need it ;)
I recently made beef tallow from the kidney fat. We love frying things in it, like sweet potato chips and chicken nuggets! IT’s delicious! I would love to find some local bison too!
but is this not healthy, this is the way we did it in our country amd I easily collect tallow when I slow cook beef shanks but I throw it away because I thought it unhealthy…
If the fat is from grass-fed/pasture raised/free range/wild animals, this is very healthy, Lily.
Why Animal Fats Are Good For You – Chris Materjohn Low-Carb Cruise 2012 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbhTjRY0rBQ
Try the dry method or simmer longer next time, 3/4 cup is a meager yield from one pound of Wild Idea Bison suet. I order this and the bison bones from US Wellness Meats and get about one and a third to one and a half cups of beautiful, pastel yellow tallow doing a dry render at 200 – 250 in the oven. I find the best method is to chop it a couple times in a food processor while its still frozen (but not quite to the consistency of ground meat) and laying it out in a 12×12 stainless steel pot. Check on it every 10-15 once the rendering process begins and use a wooden spoon to assist and expel more fat each time. And when done, I forgo the cheesecloth and use just the colander and wooden spoon to get out every last drop.
Nate, thanks for the tips – I’ve always been wary of the dry method because I can sometimes be a little inattentive in the kitchen! But this simplifies things.
And I can be a little too attentive in the kitchen.. a labor of love you could say. Also, when I feel like I’ve gotten a sufficient yield, I like to throw the “cracklins” back in the oven or on a skillet and snack on em when they’re nice hot and crispy; its like a semi crunchy pemmican bar without the protein. Never waste!
So you pulled 3/4 cup out of 1lb of fat? I just did about 5lbs of lamb fat and got about the same ratio.