Tallow, just a fancy word for rendered fat.
Before we jump into the how-to, let's discuss what and why. Beef tallow comes from fat removed from the beef carcass - this can include suet (internal fat that is found around the kidneys & organs) OR what we call back-fat (fat on the outside of the carcass). Tallow is liquid when heated and solid when cool. Prior to vegetable shortening and other oils gaining popularity, tallow was heavily used -- even by McDonalds!
Useage for tallow is very diverse, but for the home cook it is a great substitute for vegetable oil or butter. Many use the trimmings off of brisket to make tallow, or you can purchase bags of fat that we have processed from each steer carcass. Our processor passes it through the grinder before bagging, allowing the rendering process to go quickly.
Here's our process for making:
1) slightly thaw fat
2) add fat to a heavy bottom stock pot
3) slowly warm! If there's one rule in this, it's do not rush the process! If you bring the heat up quickly, the fat will burn.
4) once all the fat is liquid (it took us close to 5 hours), start the straining process. We passed our liquid through a fine mesh strainer, then again through a doubled up cheese cloth. Strain as much as needed.
5) we used wide mouth mason jars to package our final product
Storage - I've read different opinions on shelf life and storage. Some say they keep it in the refrigerator and others the pantry. We play it safe with the refrigerator.
Shelf life - The general consensus seems to say use within 3 months.
Variations - Some folks smoke this low and slow or on the counter in a crockpot. Others add in a pinch of salt or a few sprigs of rosemary or garlic. Reverse sear a steak with infused tallow - chefs kiss! Tallow can also be used to make your own lotions, candles, etc.
Takeaway, beef tallow has been around as long as we've been consuming meat. Whole animal utilization and animal by-products are absolutely intriguing. Offering the fat from our steers is one by-product we can safely bring to the store front and offer our customers.