Tallow, it’s not just for cooking…
When you think of tallow, I’m sure nothing appealing comes to mind. The thought of it may even make you a bit queasy. I completely understand, however, once you realize the the benefits of tallow you may change your mind. I’m not making any medical claims here, but I can say for certain that it has done away with my daughter’s eczema and diaper rash. It has also kept my dry hands and feet moisturized during our Texas windy “winter.” Tallow is a wonderful base for healing salves, balms, face creams, and body butters.
So what is tallow?
According to Wikipedia, Tallow is “a rendered form of beef or mutton fat, processed from suet. It is solid at room temperature. Unlike suet, tallow can be stored for extended periods without the need for refrigeration to prevent decomposition, provided it is kept in an airtight container to prevent oxidation.”
You see, I warned you… totally not appealing!
Tallow – a super brief history of fat…
Animal fats have been used for centuries going back to Ancient Babylonians, Native Americans, and are mentioned many times biblically. These fats were used for medicinal salves, cosmetic purposes, and cooking. Candles were made of tallow by the Romans beginning about 500 BC. and Cleopatra herself was known to have bathed in tallow to keep her skin creamy and moisturized. If it’s good enough for Cleo, it’s good enough for me!
“Historical evidence shows that Egyptians bathed regularly and combined animal and vegetable oils with alkaline salts to create a soap-like substance for washing.” ~ The History of Soap Making.
Throughout history, tallow has been combined with medicinal plants and applied to the skin to assist in healing. Its uses are many: burns, chapped skin and lips, rashes, wounds, pain, and even ingrown nails.
I can vividly remember my grandmother having tallow on hand at all times. It sat upon her worn white stove in a repurposed Folger’s can next to the bacon grease. This smooth and creamy rendering had many uses from frying chicken and French fried potatoes to moisturizing hands. It was not uncommon for grandmother to cut a piece of an aloe vera plant along with a handful of herbs and combine it with tallow over a low heat for hours to produce a healing concoction that could rival most pharmacy brands. She would slather this miracle salve on our wounds (usually a result from getting into things we shouldn’t have). This, in addition to a short prayer, kiss, and hug during application, would always do the trick and soon after our wounds would heal up seamlessly with little to no evidence of our horsing and monkeying around. Today, I continue to keep a slow steeped tallow and herb salve on hand for cuts, abrasions, and moisturizing. What’s that saying? “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
Is tallow the same as lard?
Fat is fat, right? Nope… tallow is rendered beef fat, where as “lard” is rendered pork fat. The taste is slightly different and grass fed tallow is by far more easily absorbed due to its composition being so similar to our natural skin oils. Due to tallow’s absorption rate into our skin, it leaves skin incredibly supple and and soft. Lard, on the other hand, has less saturated fat which is what tones our skin or cell membranes.
I thought animal fats were bad for you…
“Tallow is an excellent source of niacin, vitamins B6, B12, K2, selenium, iron, phosphorus, potassium and riboflavin. Grass-fed beef tallow contains high ratio of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) which is a cancer-resistant agent. Contrary to the popular conception, tallow is good for health as tallow fat is similar to the fat/muscles in the heart. Recent studies have shown that human beings need at least 50% of saturated fats like tallow and lard to keep the heart pumping hard and healthy. Tallow from pasture-raised cows also contains a small amount of Vitamin D, similar to lard.” – Source: Beeftallow.com
Beef fat on my skin? No way!
Now that you know what tallow is, you’re probably wondering why you should slather fat on your body…
Believe it or not, you’ve probably already done it hundreds of times! A large majority of skin care companies produce creams, lotions, and other skin care products with tallow under different names to not discourage you from purchasing it. The difference is the majority of these products come from tallow packed with antibiotics and hormones and if that’s not enough they’ve added in fragrances, phthalates, and other toxic ingredients into the mix as well.
The benefits of tallow …
Our grass-fed pasture raised beef tallow comes from the Ploughshare Institute For Sustainable Culture in Waco, Texas. We searched high and low for the highest quality tallow and this place is truly heavenly for cows. The cattle are treated with great respect and are able to roam on hundreds of acres of beautiful lush green pastures. I make my weekly trip to Waco and enjoy walking the fields and visiting with the wonderful community of people. If you are ever in the area, I encourage you to visit and take a class or two on: soap making, candle making, weaving, forging tools, pottery, beekeeping, organic farming, sustainable living, or just have the most fabulous farm to table lunch ever. Make sure you have several hours to hang around to chat and learn. It’s truly an experience!
Sorry, I get so excited about this place. Back to tallow…
Tallow is jam-packed with lipids that are found in our skin naturally. These lipids are what make our skin youthful and healthy. The fatty acids in purely grass-fed tallow are incredibly compatible and similar to the molecular structure of the oils (sebum) found in our outer layer of skin which makes it highly absorbable. Tallow protects, regenerates and moisturizes. Grass fed tallow contains fat soluble vitamins A,D, E & K. It is as pure a moisturizer as can be- no additives, no preservatives, no chemicals, and no toxins. It’s just good ol’ nature at its finest.
We hand-render and triple wash the highest quality grass-fed tallow on low heat for 15-24 hours in small batches to ensure quality and to maintain beneficial antioxidants. To this we add organic oils such as olive, vit E., coconut, shea, medicinal herbs, and essential oils. We then triple strain and filter the infused oils to ensure a smooth salve , balm, or butter.
Our organically grown medicinal and beneficial herbs and flowers are added to tallow to soothe and heal irritated, dry, and itchy skin.
The long laborious process of infusing oils for weeks and even months begins long before we make our salves and other tallow products. We hand pluck and pick specific herbs and allow them to infuse into our healing oils which are added to our herb infused tallow for an extra boost of healing power and a glorious natural aroma.
Calendula, marigold, chamomile, lavender, rosemary, St. John’s wort, parsley, comfrey, peppermint, echinacea, sage, thyme, chickweed and Mexican marigold are all great healing and soothing herbs.
Even our bees love being part of the healing and moisturizing process by sharing their beeswax and honey. Nature is amazing!
Want to know more about how to render your own tallow?
Now that you know a little more about tallow, you may want to try it out and experience the benefits for yourself, or maybe you just want to fry up some of the best fried chicken and French fries ever…Mmmmmm
Jill Winger with The Prairie Homestead has a wonderful site you should take a gander at. She gives step by step instructions with photos on how to do this yourself. Rendering tallow takes a little time, well actually what I call a “lotta” time, but it is well worth it and it stores for quite a long time in an airtight container or in the fridge. Remember to use grass fed, pasture raised tallow from a reliable source and ensure that there are no hormones or antibiotics in it.
You can check out Jill’s blog at:
Not wanting to go through the hassle and time of rendering, washing, filtering, etc. ? We’ve got you covered! Shoot us an email or check out our “shop” page.