Saturday, January 11, 2014

Making Beef Tallow

I made beef tallow this week.

My kitchen is a disaster.  Please ignore the window casing ugliness.   I'm married to a carpenter - this was the beginning of a "whole house gets new windows project" that began in 1995.  I think it's still on the to do list but at this point, I don't care anymore either.  

Back to the tallow.....

See the beef kidney laying to the left?  We live in beef country.  Think Kansas City, the K.C. Strip.  Since Kansas City is a large urban area, of course, K.C. Strips got their name due to the herds of grass fattened cattle being shipped out of the Kansas City Stockyards to the rest of the country back in the days before refrigeration was plentiful.  I live in the places where the cattle live before their big day in Kansas City.  So all the farmers and ranchers around here keep a couple back for their own freezers and have them processed in local places.

Our neighbor - the butcher - brought over this heap of stuff in a clear plastic bag and proceeded to cut the thick casing of tallow off of each kidney.  Then I began cutting this huge, thick, waxy white thing into about 1" chunks.

Everything I read on line said to cook it down on low heat on the stove top like this.  See how clean and organized I was at this point?  After a couple of hours of cooking with minimal progress, I dumped the whole mess into my biggest crockpot for the night.

This is what I had after everything cooled out.  I dipped hot oil out of the crockpot a few times over the cooking hours.  I'm sure it would have overflowed if I left it alone.  As you can see, there was quite a bit of tallow and cracklins that came from this batch.  The bowl is what I dipped out of the crockpot as it simmered for hours.

Be careful!  Don't use anything plastic (bowl, dipper cup, spoons, etc)!

This is the leftover cracklins stuff.  I'm planning to dump it all in with some flour, maybe an egg or two? and try to create dog bisquits.  UPDATE: No need for all that - I melted this cracklin mess down again and poured it onto a cookie sheet with a nice tall rim so nothing could spill out.  I let it cool out, then placed the thing in the freezer for a couple of hours.  Once its frozen, twist the metal pan a bit and use a metal spatula to break it loose and into dog size chunks.  Very easy.  I put my gallon zip lock bag of dog treats back in my freezer.

As far as smelling up the house....yes.  My house smelled like someone was cooking McDonalds french fries for a couple of days.  Now that the whole mess has completely cooled out, we can't smell it anymore even though its all still sitting on the countertop waiting to be put into something for storage.  It's almost like candle wax when its cooled out.

Now, on the other hand, I haven't seen where anyone has pointed out the smell of the kidneys themselves.  Whooo---eee!  The butcher held it up to my nose because originally I was asking if there was a use for the meat.  And he said, "Maybe.  But can't you smell it?  I've spent too many years doing this.  I can always smell it."  Then he held one up to my nose.  And, yes.  Don't do that experiment unless you want to know.  And never be able to forget it.  

These were at a near gagging level until I decided to start using my 100 pound black lab dog as my disposal. Yummmmm...he was excited!  I thought I'd wait and give him the other one tomorrow in case kidney meat is rich for his system.

This last photo was an experiment - using a coffee filter to try and strain out the smaller bits of cracklins.  As you can see, it didn't work and now I have two more pans to wash.  But I may try it again just for the idea of creating stackable cakes of the tallow for the freezer, rather than trying to dig the hardened stuff out of jars later.

So........the big question remains...Why did I make beef tallow?

Two reasons.  In trying to get mentally and physically healed after my crash of 2010.  I came across information on hormonal imbalance.  Womancode is a new book out by Alisa Vitti.  You can watch her talk at TED on a youtube video "Loving Your Ladyparts".  From that point, I drilled in on adrenal crashes and found Dr. Lam.  I now believe I had a pretty severe adrenal exhaustion and crash problem which nearly incapacitated me.  I've been three years healing now and Dr. Lam states he believes it can take as long as twelve years to recover.  

Dr. Lam believes people who are recovering from adrenal crashes need more animal fat and more salt in the diet.  The American diet is nearly void of animal fats today.  Remember when your Grandma kept a little can of grease beside the stove and reused it to fry eggs or potatoes?  It wasn't until the late 1960's and early 1970's that people began buying vegetable oil at the grocery store.  Before that, everyone just used the grease that naturally came from other foods they cooked.  So, tallow is one way to reincorporate this way of cooking.  This batch should last me for at least a year if not longer.

The second use is for skin.  Beef tallow (or any animal fat, bison, sheep, deer, etc.) is much closer to the same content of what oozes out of our own skin.  Since we shower so often, we scrub it off.  The beef tallow is a way to put it back on the places that are getting crackly and dry.  I'm trying it on my hands (bonus since puddles of it are all over my countertops) and my cuticles (love it already) and gingerly trying it on my face wrinkles (supposed to be "miracle like" results - I have no results after one overnight use - so no opinion, YET).

Well, I have a kitchen to scrap and scrub.  Have you ever made tallow?  How did it go?

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