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.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.
“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,…”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.
Thanks for the links Notchy Bob. I checked out Fanny and Flo's. That's the place to get mutton tallow.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:
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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.
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.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.