Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Rendering tallow for soap

As discussed in my previous post, I've been making soap from scratch lately. A lot of soap! I kept coming across recipes for soaps using tallow, or rendered beef fat as a main ingredient. It's inexpensive and makes for a very hard bar of soap. It's also high in stearic acid, which is a key player in shaving soaps. Hubby likes to shave using shaving soap and a brush and in the past I'd made him shaving soap with a melt and pour base, adding clay to help the razor glide better. I wanted to see if making a cold precess soap with tallow would be an improvement.

That meant I had to make some tallow!

I started with a big bag of fat scraps from the market.
I started to try to trim the little bits, separating the meat from the fat, but quickly decided that was a phenomenal waste of my time! I had no plans for the microscopic bits of meat I was trimming off, except to give the dog a happy treat, and it was going to take hours!  Instead, I just dumped the whole mess into my crock pot. You can see that the crock pot is nearly full of scraps.
just starting
I put the lid on, turned it on and walked away. Actually, I went to bed, then got up, ran some errands, took the kids out and about, and generally forgot this was cooking.
starting to cook
 At the 12+ hour mark, it had reduced significantly, but there was still a fair bit of fat stuck to the meat.
12 hours 47 minutes
So I left it to cook for a little while longer. I had read that some people had to open the windows because of the bad smell, especially when rendering suet, which is the fat from around the kidneys, but this fat was from all over the cow and instead of smelling awful, smelled like roast beef! I felt a little bad for hubby. He was working from home and subjected to this smell all day with no hot roast beef dinner at the end!
 At about 16 hours it's almost done.
16 hours 35 minutes
There are still some big pieces that are holding some fat. If I'd been free, this might have been an ok time to dump and drain this, but I was busy so I left it a while longer!
Here we go, 18 hours, 21 minutes. This is about as done as it's going to get! At this point the bits of meat in the pot started to turn a dark brown and I worried that leaving it any longer might start to overheat the oil.

18 hours 21 minutes
There's not much left in the pot, just oil and browned bits of meat. The white bits that still look like fat are cartilage and aren't going to render out any more.
You can see how the level has dropped to about half the crock pot.
 I poured the whole mess into a strainer lined with cheese cloth and let it drain into a pot.
my dog loves me so much right now
 After letting it drain by itself for a while, I folded up the cloth and gave it a squeeze.
I put it between two plates, tipped it sideways, and gave it a gentle press to force out any remaining oil in the meat scraps. I will probably skip this step next time. I dirtied two plates and get very little oil out.
 I was left with a pot full of a clear golden liquid that had a very slight roast beefy smell.
clear, rendered, beef fat
I transferred this to a couple of containers on the scale to see how much was left. You should make sure your containers are heat tolerant or risk melting them like I did! The big container was fine,. The little storage container began to buckle and warp. Luckily, I just wanted to measure it and could pour it into another container after quickly snapping a picture!

About 5 and a half pounds of fat trimmings left about 2 and a half pounds of tallow.
2 and a half pounds of tallow
One of the great things about tallow is that so long as you keep it tightly sealed, it can sit on the shelf for months!  Mine didn't last nearly that long!  Up first was a batch of lemon poppyseed hand soap!  This is it, fresh out of the mold. Once saponified, there is absolutely no trace of the beefy smell. Just the natural smell of fresh soap, and in this case, some lemon essential oil!
lemon poppyseed soap loaf
This is it cut and cured for a few weeks. This bar also has coconut oil, castor oil and and olive oil, in a goats milk base. The poppy seeds and lemon peel granules make it scrubby. It's a great soap for the kitchen.
lemon poppyseed goats milk soap bar
Here's the shaving soap!  I used a 3 inch cylindrical mold to make pucks of this soap. This is a cedar and lime scented tallow shaving soap with French green clay added for slip. It also has shea butter, avocado oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil and castor oil.  I am eager for it to fully cure so I can see how it lathers!
cedar and lime shaving soap with green clay.
In the end, I paid $3.23 for the fat scraps and ended up with about 42 ounces of tallow. That's $0.0769 per ounce. Let's call it $0.08. That's nearly a third the price of my next cheapest ingredients, coconut and olive oil, which are both around $0.25/oz.  So far, I am impressed with these soaps. They are much harder than my other soaps, which should make them last longer. There's no weird smells and they lather nicely!

1 comment:

  1. Nice tutorial! I can't wait to hear how the shave soap works out; my son has been begging for some!