Tallow - Just have to ask this

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GriscomRun

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Because I just don't know. Is "tallow" animal fat ? And can it be used unaltered from a butcher shop ? After heating and melting a little.
Thanks for your experience.
 

sawyer04

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Tallow is rendered fat from most animals, or some plants. If you go to the butcher shop I would try to get beef fat, after rendered it makes great popcorn oil too. Pork fat gets rancid quickly. I have bought lard at the grocery store and used it for mixing patch lube.
 

Brian Sweeney

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Real tallow is fat from the areas around the kidneys and other organs of large animals. It is suet that was boiled down and the solids were taken out. 99% of butcher shops don't have real suet. The tallow they sell is fat from other parts of the animal. Real tallow is great for us front loaders. Real tallow is solid at room temp.
 

Don Steele

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Brian nailed it. Thanks to my 25 yr career in Beef slaughter and processing, I can affirm the origins of tallow and the difference between fat and suet. As an aside... I’ll add that most folks have forgotten ( if they ever knew...) that McDonald’s French fries were cooked in Beef tallow originally, until too many people whined for a “ healthier choice”.
HELLO..!!! You’re eating McDonalds French fries... you kinda took “ healthy” off the table didn’t you..?
 

tenngun

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Generally tallow means beef sheep or goat, lard is pig and fowl is just fat. Suit is the fine kidney fat
Suit was for cooking, lower grades for candles and grease
 

Notchy Bob

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I've heard that, about real tallow being just kidney fat. However, as @tenngun stated, I think the term is generally used to mean rendered fat from pretty much anywhere on the animal. James R. Mead, an old-time muzzle-loading round-ball buffalo hunter, described making enormous quantities of buffalo tallow for market in the 1850's and 1860's, and I doubt he could have gotten that much just from the kidney fat. This was in his book, Hunting and Trading on the Great Plains 1859-1875:

Mead 1.1.jpg


That's a terrific book, incidentally. Mead was quite literate. He wrote very well, and was interested in everything he saw.

Shooters in the past seemed to like bear's oil and sperm oil the best, but of the various types of tallow, I believe mutton tallow was preferred, usually blended with beeswax for lubricating bullets. I'm pretty sure this is mentioned in Ned Roberts' The Muzzle-Loading Cap Lock Rifle, although I am unable to find it. Dixie Gun Works used to sell a product known as "Old Zip Patch" grease, made from mutton tallow and beeswax, but they have discontinued it. They do still sell plain mutton tallow. A couple of other possible sources for mutton or lamb tallow are Fannie & Flo and Duro-Felt Products, and Jas. Townsend sells "Premium Beef Suet Tallow," made from beef kidney fat.

Tallow isn't hard to make. I used to just put the fat in a pot over medium heat, and pour it off through screen wire for use in the shop or for shooting. you don't want to get it too hot... just enough to melt out the grease. A double boiler would probably be best, but isn't necessary if you're careful.

When I was growing up, there was a rather impoverished extended family living in the community. They "got by," but without anything to spare. The local butcher told me the family patriarch would come in about every week and pick up a large quantity of fat trimmings. He would take it home and render it all down in a large pot over a fire in their front yard. The fat would render out and be taken off and used for cooking, while the odd bits of meat and connective tissue would get fried in the process to become crispy little morsels called "cracklin's," which were given to the children as treats.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
 

rafterob

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If you want to render your own tallow and the butcher will sell you some beef fat, have them grind it for you. The smaller the pieces the more yield you will get. Heat it on low heat till it is thoroughly melted and the bits have turned brown. Then strain it into a straight sided container and let it solidify at room temperature. After that, put it in the refrigerator overnight. Next day (or whenever) put the container upside down under hot water to release the solid mass. Now scrape all the impurities off the bottom and you will have pure tallow.
 

Loyalist Dave

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If you want to render your own tallow and the butcher will sell you some beef fat, have them grind it for you. The smaller the pieces the more yield you will get. Heat it on low heat till it is thoroughly melted and the bits have turned brown. Then strain it into a straight sided container and let it solidify at room temperature. After that, put it in the refrigerator overnight. Next day (or whenever) put the container upside down under hot water to release the solid mass. Now scrape all the impurities off the bottom and you will have pure tallow.
Actually IF you want real beef tallow of the highest quality, you should be using raw beef suet, from around the kidneys as others have mentioned, and it crumbles like cheese. No need to grind it unless lesser quality fat from the animal is being used. IF you are frying foods then rendering tallow from the other sources of fat within the cow will work.

I use raw beef suet all the time in boiled puddings and it's the ONLY type of fat that works. I simply ask the butcher for "raw suet from the kidney" and he hauls out the kidney with the fat, and cuts the fat off for me.

We have a lot of folks that do DIY bologna and salami and especially when doing those from venison they need that hard fat. We also have a good group of Brits in the area and they get the kidneys for British foods.

LD
 

pamtnman

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FWIW when a friend gets a bear, I ask for as much fresh fat as they can set aside. Then I render it down into bear oil, which is used for our black powder patches and leather preservative. Never experienced anything like it, and if given a choice, won’t change to anything else. Highly recommend it. NotchyBob, thank you for the cool book references.
 

Loyalist Dave

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Shooters in the past seemed to like bear's oil and sperm oil the best, but of the various types of tallow, I believe mutton tallow was preferred, usually blended with beeswax for lubricating bullets. I'm pretty sure this is mentioned in Ned Roberts' The Muzzle-Loading Cap Lock Rifle, although I am unable to find it. Dixie Gun Works used to sell a product known as "Old Zip Patch" grease, made from mutton tallow and beeswax, but they have discontinued it.
“Old hunters have repeatedly told me that they, and the pioneers generally, used the oiled cloth patch in preference to the wet one. Bears were numerous in most parts of the country in the early days, the pioneers and hunters always killed them so as to have a supply of bear’s oil on hand for oiling the patches for the rifle and lubricating the barrel after cleaning,…”

“…, It is generally well known by riflemen that an oiled patch enables one to load a somewhat tighter fitting ball, or bullet, than one can be used with a patch wet with saliva. Also when loading hurriedly, or in very cold weather, one is less likely to have a ball stick partly down the barrel with an oiled patch than with a wet one ; hence the old hunters’ preference for the oiled or greased patch. “



“The paper patches used in the muzzle-loading target rifles are nearly always lubricated with some kind of oil…, Many riflemen use sperm oil for this purpose, which if actually pure sperm is as good as most any other kind, but the trouble is that today it is nearly impossible to obtain genuine, pure, sperm oil…, The very best oil for using paper patches is bear’s oil ; as that does not thicken after being kept a long time and paper patches lubricated with it do not get “gummy” or sticky, after having been kept for months….,

…, Dr. Gorning has found pure neats foot oil ; excellent for oiling both cloth and paper patches, and reports that patches do not get sticky or “gummy” after being lubricated with neats foot oil : and kept for a long time. “


“With a proper size steel wad-cutter, we cut from an old hat a quantity of
[wool] felt wads which were then soaked in a hot mixture of beeswax and sperm oil, then dried for about 24 hours. After the ball had been secured in the front end of the paper [cartridge] tube, one of these lubricated felt wads was placed in the tube and carefully pushed down onto the ball ; then we poured a measured charge of powder in the [cartridge] tube behind the wad and bullet, and finished the cartridge by twisting the end of the paper cylinder together and tying it with a piece of red thread. “
Ned Roberts The Muzzle-Loading Cap Lock Rifle.

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Colterkid

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An old experienced muzzleloader shooter, told me about mutton tallow and bee's wax. I bought 10 pounds of fat and rendered it down into tallow, soaked pure natural linen from Townsend in it, and it works great for patched round balls. He wrote an article in the Shooter's Forum, about "Getting back to the Basics" years ago.
I've tried to get in touch with William Oldham, if anyone knows where he's at, please let me know.
Thanks
 

Colterkid

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I've heard that, about real tallow being just kidney fat. However, as @tenngun stated, I think the term is generally used to mean rendered fat from pretty much anywhere on the animal. James R. Mead, an old-time muzzle-loading round-ball buffalo hunter, described making enormous quantities of buffalo tallow for market in the 1850's and 1860's, and I doubt he could have gotten that much just from the kidney fat. This was in his book, Hunting and Trading on the Great Plains 1859-1875:

View attachment 99064

That's a terrific book, incidentally. Mead was quite literate. He wrote very well, and was interested in everything he saw.

Shooters in the past seemed to like bear's oil and sperm oil the best, but of the various types of tallow, I believe mutton tallow was preferred, usually blended with beeswax for lubricating bullets. I'm pretty sure this is mentioned in Ned Roberts' The Muzzle-Loading Cap Lock Rifle, although I am unable to find it. Dixie Gun Works used to sell a product known as "Old Zip Patch" grease, made from mutton tallow and beeswax, but they have discontinued it. They do still sell plain mutton tallow. A couple of other possible sources for mutton or lamb tallow are Fannie & Flo and Duro-Felt Products, and Jas. Townsend sells "Premium Beef Suet Tallow," made from beef kidney fat.

Tallow isn't hard to make. I used to just put the fat in a pot over medium heat, and pour it off through screen wire for use in the shop or for shooting. you don't want to get it too hot... just enough to melt out the grease. A double boiler would probably be best, but isn't necessary if you're careful.

When I was growing up, there was a rather impoverished extended family living in the community. They "got by," but without anything to spare. The local butcher told me the family patriarch would come in about every week and pick up a large quantity of fat trimmings. He would take it home and render it all down in a large pot over a fire in their front yard. The fat would render out and be taken off and used for cooking, while the odd bits of meat and connective tissue would get fried in the process to become crispy little morsels called "cracklin's," which were given to the children as treats.

Best regards,

Notchy Bob
Thanks for the links Notchy Bob. I checked out Fanny and Flo's. That's the place to get mutton tallow.
On Crackling, Dad used to stop at the local butcher, and bring some hot, for Ma to cook in cornbread. Cracklin cornbread was pretty good.
Thanks
 

Juniata

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I'll piggy back off this conversation.
I butchered a 300 lb hog in March. Got all this lard from him.
I never thought to use it for my muzzleloader...
I like it in pie crusts, biscuits, frying donuts, fries and on the griddle for eggs.
I have used it to keep my butcher knives oiled.
I keep them down in the basement it helps so they don't get to rusting.

20210313_092146.jpg
20210313_143539.jpg
 

Loyalist Dave

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I'll piggy back off this conversation.
I butchered a 300 lb hog in March. Got all this lard from him.
I never thought to use it for my muzzleloader...
I like it in pie crusts, biscuits, frying donuts, fries and on the griddle for eggs.
I have used it to keep my butcher knives oiled.
I keep them down in the basement it helps so they don't get to rusting.
Yeah it's funny that in Chinese cooking they use lard for scrambled eggs but oil for most everything else. I like to use it for home made lye soap too, and I have used it on barrels for rust prevention and as a bullet lube.

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Crow Choker

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I've always read and heard that sheep tallow is the best of the best. I bought three tubs of it from Dixie some time back. Have never had it go bad, although I keep the unused, unopened ones in the freezer. I use it for patch lube and in making lubricate for my cast Maxi-balls, soak felt wads with the lube for percussion revolvers, and cast bullets for my three Colt Conversion revolvers. Works good.
 

N.Y. Yankee

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I'll pick up some large chunks of nice white beef fat once in a while when I see it at the grocery store. I chop it up small and remove any red pieces before gently heating it for some time until the steam stops coming off. I strainit through a fine wire mesh into a big jar and then through a cloth into aluminum foil bread pans to let cool. Once cool, I wrap them tight in plastic wrap and stack them in a bottom drawer in the fridge. I had poured some of this into a small tin and put the lid on. Stashed it in my BP supplies and forgot it. Found it again one day 2 years later and smelled it to see if it was bad. It had only a slight odor and would have been fine for wood or leather treatment or to lube a patch with. or even rub on a dry patch of skin. I'm told women's makeup does or used to contain tallow.
 
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