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Tallow is a liquid fat extracted from cows, sheep, and other hooved animals that have been used as fuel for cooking. It’s low in smoke point, meaning it should never be heated beyond its melting temperature of about 158 degrees Fahrenheit before oxidation starts to take place. This means that tallow can’t really be exploited for high-temperature applications like frying or pan-frying since the fats will start to oxidize at lower temperatures than either shortening or lard, which are more commonly used ingredients.
Do you want to learn a fun truth about McDonald’s french fries? Mcdonald’s utilized fine, old-fashioned beef tallow to cook its fries before switching to hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Burger King, Wendy’s, Hardee’s, Arby’s, Dairy Queen, Popeyes, and Bob’s Big Boy were among the fast-food chains that did so.
Tallow (beef fat) was formerly thought to be a nutritious and tasty fat for frying, baking, and other uses. However, tallow and other animal fats (such as schmaltz and lard) fell out of favor only when inexpensive, highly processed vegetable oils were widely accessible in the United States and elsewhere.
Is tallow still edible? Yes, and when used in moderation, it may be considered a healthy cooking fat, particularly when compared to margarine or processed shortening.
Grass-fed beef fat is an excellent source of oleic acid, conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), and other fatty acids are known to help with cognitive/brain function and metabolism.
What Exactly Is Tallow?
Tallow is made from cattle (or, less often, mutton) fat, which is why it’s also known as beef lard. It’s solid at room temperature but melts into a liquid when heated, like many other saturated fats.
Because tallow is solid and beige/white in color when chilled, it has a similar look and feel to butter. However, it has a drier, waxier texture and a somewhat different flavor than butter.
Although most people associate tallow with cow fat, other animal fats may also be called tallow. For example, some commercial tallow comprises fat from various animals, such as mutton, pigs, and hogs.
Tallow is often manufactured by rendering suet, a firm, white fat found in the tissues around an animal’s organs.
Many people believe that the fat surrounding the kidneys produces the most excellent quality cow tallow, although it can also be prepared from other fats. This is because the kidneys’ fatty tissue retains a lot of nutrients, particularly in grass-fed cattle.
Tallow is also known as shortening, which is defined as any solid fat that is used in baking that is solid at room temperature.
Tallow is a primarily saturated animal fat with some unsaturated fats thrown in for good measure. Tallow’s fat composition is predicted to contain 45 to 50 percent saturated fat, 42 to 50 percent monounsaturated fat, and 4 percent polyunsaturated fat.
One tablespoon of tallow contains approximately: according to the United States Department of Agriculture, one tablespoon of tallow contains approximately:
- calories: 115
- Fat content: 13 g (including 6.5 grams saturated fat and 5.5 grams of monounsaturated fat)
- 0 g carbohydrate, protein, sugar, or fiber
In terms of nutritional content, grass-fed cattle produce the highest-quality beef tallow compared to calves grown on feedlots and fed grains. In addition, when compared to cows on less healthful diets, grass-fed cattle store more omega-3s, CLA, and other beneficial substances in their systems.
Some nutrients are provided by tallow generated from grass-fed cattle:
- A, D, K, E, and B12 vitamins
- Other fatty acids, such as oleic acid, palmitoleic acid, stearic acid, and linoleic acid
What are the advantages of using tallow? Here are some of the reasons why this fat has been utilized for millennia in cooking, baking, and other applications:
1. Provides a source of healthy fats, such as cholesterol
Researchers originally advocated for a lower-fat diet in the 1950s, when animal fats were related to the development of coronary heart disease. However, we’ve learned that diets heavy in fat and cholesterol really have certain health advantages since that time.
Tallow contains both saturated and monounsaturated fats, as previously stated. It’s made up of monounsaturated fats, which are one of the most heart-healthy fats in our diets, in the range of 40% to 50%.
Olive oil also contains this sort of fat.
Tallow contains a form of saturated fat that is thought to have a generally neutral impact on blood cholesterol levels, or the potential to boost “good” HDL cholesterol, so eating it in moderation shouldn’t put you at risk for cardiovascular disease.
Saturated fat consumption as part of a healthy diet has also been proven to have an inverse link with obesity-related type 2 diabetes in certain circumstances.
Another advantage of eating natural fats is that they help with cognitive health since cholesterol and fat make up a large portion of the brain.
2. It may help you lose weight or manage your weight.
Tallow is high in CLA, a fatty acid that has been shown in tests to promote a healthy metabolism and fat loss. In addition, like the fatty acid, oleic acid, CLA has some evidence that it possesses anti-inflammatory and immune-supporting characteristics, maybe even inhibiting tumor formation.
Follow a high-fat keto diet, which leads to ketosis and has other advantages like lowering inflammation and oxidative stress. Animal fats may be very beneficial for weight reduction.
3. Aids in the absorption of essential vitamins.
Fats are required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins benefit your immune system, skeletal system, heart, and skin, among other things.
4. It has high flammability.
Tallow has a greater smoke point than other cooking fats and oils, such as olive oil and butter, ranging from 420 to 480 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature at which an oil begins to burn, smoke, and lose many of its nutritious properties is referred to as the smoke point.
Tallow’s chemical makeup does not change when heated to high temperatures. When roasting, frying, or baking, use it instead of oils like canola, maize, or even virgin olive oil, which are prone to oxidizing at high temperatures and may lead to issues like free radical generation.
5. It may aid in the hydration of the skin.
Why is tallow beneficial to your skin? It’s high in fatty acids, which help build the lipids that protect and moisturize the skin.
Palmitoleic acid, stearic acid, and oleic acid are among them (the same type of fat found in olive oil).
Consuming fats may aid in skin support, and certain fats, such as tallow, can also be administered topically to the skin. Tallow has several skin-health advantages, including:
- Increasing moisture and treating dehydration
- Increasing the elasticity and healing capabilities of the skin
- Skin’s protective barrier function is bolstered.
Recipes/How to Use
What may tallow be used for in the kitchen? First, it’s a fantastic fat for frying, baking, sautéing, and roasting since it has a high smoke point (between 400–420 degrees F).
It may assist create a crumbly texture in crusts, pastries, fried meals, and baked items.
Tallow is often used in the following recipes:
- crusts for pies
- Tortillas made with flour
- Recipes from Mexico, such as fried plantains and tamales
- Cake by the pound
- Pork, chicken, and other fried meats are fried.
- Vegetable fritters, latkes, and fried veggies
Where can I get Tallow?
At a local farmers’ market or health food shop, look for organic tallow made from grass-fed cows. It could also be available at your local butcher store.
- Grass-fed beef fat may be found at a butcher shop or a farmers’ market. Before grinding or breaking it up and converting it into liquid fat, you may need to purchase a large piece.
- Cut the fat into extremely tiny bits or grind it (or ask the butcher to do this for you). Place the fat in a slow cooker and simmer for several hours on low or medium. While it cooks, you will hear cracking sounds. It’s done when the commotion stops, and all that’s left is liquid tallow and some crispy chunks (known as greaves or cracklings). As soon as the noise ceases, turn off the heat.
- Allow for an hour of cooling before straining through a mesh strainer and storing it in a glass mason jar. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated if kept in an airtight container for a short time, although some people prefer to store it for a more extended period of time.
Soap made from tallow:
Many soap bars have traditionally been produced with tallow, which help to harden and lather soap while also protecting the skin’s natural barrier.
You may use tallow instead of vegetable oils if you’re used to producing soap at home using vegetable oils. To create your own tallow soap, blend it with sodium hydroxide, water, jojoba or almond oil, and essential oils like lavender to enhance the scent and soothing properties.
Other than lard, what can you use in place of tallow?
Because they contain mainly the same kinds of fats, grass-fed butter is a viable alternative to tallow and may be utilized in similar ways. Both have a saturated fat content of 40 to 60 percent.
Butter has a distinct flavor that some people love, particularly in baked items. On the other hand, Tallow is dairy-free and may be accepted by those who have lactose intolerance or allergies to dairy.
Good quality oils, such as coconut and avocado oil, may also provide you with a balanced diet of healthy fats. On the other hand, refined vegetable oils are not the greatest option since they are typically rancid owing to excessive heat exposure and are rich in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids.
What exactly is the difference between tallow and lard?
Lard is “fat rendered and clarified from the abdomen of a pig (or swine) for use in cookery.” In other words, it’s a form of rendered hog fat dubbed “bacon butter” by some.
Lard is called the “original shortening” since it was used long before partly hydrolyzed vegetable oils and man-made trans fats were invented. The saturated fat content of this semi-soft white fat is substantial, yet it includes no trans fat.
That implies it may have certain advantages, such as providing lipids and cholesterol, which are required to power the brain and make hormones.
Lard is regarded as one of the greatest fats for frying and baking by many renowned chefs and bakers. It not only has a neutral flavor and a high smoke point, but it also aids in the crisping and crumbling of fried dishes.
The disadvantage of consuming lard is that it is likely to come from pigs that have been exposed to pollutants. In addition, pork/pigs are often reared in unsanitary conditions, causing them to get unwell and affecting both their meat and fat.
Side Effects and Risks
There’s now a lot of evidence that natural animal fats are better than partly hydrogenated vegetable shortenings, particularly those that include trans fats, which have been related to diseases like heart disease.
However, most health experts still advise eating tallow and other animal fats in moderation or small quantities and including unsaturated fats in your diet.
Buying high-quality tallow from grass-fed cattle/mutton is particularly vital since many supermarket brands originate from conventionally grown cows that may have been given hormones, antibiotics, and other medications. It’s also crucial to avoid hydrogenated animal fats (meaning they contain cholesterol, saturated fat, and dangerous trans fats).
If you’re at risk for heart disease and have a history of high cholesterol, restrict your intake of pure animal fats or, at the very least, seek medical counsel.
- What exactly is tallow? Animal fat, commonly known as beef tallow, is primarily produced from cattle or mutton; however, it may also include fat from pigs or hogs.
- Animal fats provide you with fatty acids and cholesterol, which play a variety of activities in your body, including helping to feed your brain and producing hormones that govern your appetite, body weight, mood, and other factors.
- Tallow advantages include feeding you with important fatty acids, boosting your metabolism and body weight control, enhancing vitamin absorption, supporting skin health, and providing your brain with required cholesterol/fat (mainly when produced from organic, grass-fed cattle).
- What’s the difference between tallow and lard? Pig fat is converted into lard. It’s heavy in saturated and monounsaturated fat and is often used for frying and baking; however, it may be more polluted than tallow since it originates from pigs.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is tallow used for?
A: Traditionally, tallow is a type of animal fat that’s incredibly high in saturated fatty acids. It has been used for centuries to make candles and soap.
Is tallow fat good for you?
A: No, it is not. Tallow is a type of beef fat that has been saturated with water to make it usable in cooking, while tallow can also be used for lubricating and soap making.
What is cow fat used for?
A: Cow fat is a type of edible oil that can also be used in cooking. It has been traditionally used for making shortening and butter, but its high melting point makes it difficult to use for salad dressing or frying.
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