A type of rendered fat, tallow is traditionally made from beef. However, technically speaking, any animal can be used to make tallow. Aside from this, vegetable forms of tallow, made from plants, especially the tallow tree are also sold in the market. However the composition of the fats based on plants is somewhat different from the traditional tallow. Since tallow is used for various purposes, the demand for this form of fat is always high.
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In normal course, the process of making tallow begins with extracting suet from an animal carcass. Precisely speaking, suet is the hardened fat found in the region of the kidneys as well as adjacent to some other organs. You may use suet as it is found, while rendering it helps to get rid of all impurities, besides prolonging its shelf life as well as that of tallow. When suet is rendered it turns into tallow. Provided you store tallow in a sealed container and keep it in a cool place, it will remain viable for a prolonged period. On the other hand, suet turns rancid very soon.
Generally, you will find mutton, beef and pig tallow in supermarkets. In addition, sometimes tallow is also rendered from other animals like horses. Tallow contains elevated levels of monounsaturated fatty acids and some amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids and unsaturated fatty acids. The composition of different fats in tallow is such that the end product is solid and has a whitish hue when stored in room temperature. It is worth mentioning here that tallow that has been rendered properly is tasteless and odourless.
Traditionally, people have been using tallow for various diverse purposes, such as in the form of a fuel, treatment of leather, in the form of a base for making candles as well as a base for soap making. In present times, tallow is generally employed in the form of a lubricant, in addition to being used as cooking oil. Tallow can also be used to make biofuel, it can be used as a supplement to feed a variety of animals. Moreover, tallow can also be used in leather dressings as well as water-proofing compound meant for leather. However, these days, some industries have shifted from using leather fat and instead use plant-based materials. This is primarily because they believe that plant-based fats are easier to clean up and also easy to handle.
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In some parts of the world, you can buy plain tallow and use it for a variety of purposes. You can get plain tallow readily if you reside anywhere close to a rendering plant.These apart, you can also make tallow at home. Nevertheless, the process of rendering tallow is quite chaotic as well as smelly. If you wish to make tallow at home, it is important that you have a suet source, besides having sturdy pans for rendering suet. Tallow is prepared by cooking cubed fat in water. Subsequently, the resultant product is cooled and strained with a view to get rid of all impurities. Finally, the top stratum of the fat that amasses following overnight chilling is skimmed off. It is necessary to repeat this process a few times till the fat is rid of all impurities and rendered as far as possible pure.
Earlier, people had a misconception that saturated fats are responsible for various cardiovascular diseases. The study undertaken on the correlation of heart disease and saturated fat was found to be biased. Now, we are aware that cardiovascular diseases are mainly caused by chronic systemic inflammation. In other words, heart diseases are a fall-out of taking a diet containing high levels of trans-fats and sugar, in addition to chronic stress.
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On the other hand, tallow contains high levels of saturated fat, making it ideal oil for culinary use. In fact, different from polyunsaturated fats, saturated fats are very defiant to high temperatures. Polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, oxidize when they come in contact with heat and form free radicals. As we all are aware, free radicals are extremely detrimental for our health, as they not only cause harm to the healthy cells, but also lead to chronic inflammation all over our body. This, in turn, can result in various types of chronic health disorders, apart from triggering cardiovascular diseases.
Contrary to this, the smoke point of tallow is 420°F, making this saturated fat very resistant to heat. In fact, tallow is among the most resistant fats used for cooking. Compared to tallow, the smoke point of coconut oil is 350°F.
Although it may seem to be incredible, tallow is considered to be the original body butter. In fact, swathing your body with beef fat may not seem to be very interesting initially, but you should not discard the idea out rightly. It is advisable that you try it and there is no doubt that you will be surprised with the results.
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The arrangement of the cell membranes in our body is composed of roughly 50 per cent saturated fats, which is extremely akin to the proportion of saturated fatty acids present in tallow. In fact, fatty acids also form the building blocks of healthy skin cells, making fats a vital nutrient for regeneration and repair of our skin.
It is common knowledge that some amount of almost everything we apply on our body is taken up by our skein. Hence, aside from eating tallow, you can get some health benefits of this rendered fat if you apply it externally too.
Aside from its use in cooking, tallow may also be employed for several "do-it-yourself" (DIY) home medications. In addition, this form of fat is also ideal for specific diets. Some of the therapeutic uses of tallow are discussed briefly below:
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Tallow is excellent for the health of bone: According to one study, no less than 50 per cent fats in our diet ought to be saturated. This is important because existence of saturated fats can only help the skeletal structure of our body to absorb calcium effectively.
CLA or conjugated linoleic acid in tallow is effective in combating cancer: Recent studies undertaken to explore the health benefits offered by tallow hint that conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) present in tallow fights cancer potently, including the three phases of cancer - which comprise initiation, promotion and metastasis. Most of the anti-cancer agents just block any one of these three stages, but tallow can block all three owing to the elevated concentration of CLA, especially in grass-fed beef. Therefore, this variety of fat is well suited to prevent as well as combat cancer.
Aside from this, it has been found that tallow is effective in reinforcing the immune system. This is mainly attributed to tallow's antimicrobial properties. Moreover, when tallow is used for culinary purpose, consumption of the food provides the body with instant energy because it is a saturated fat.
Tallow is excellent in retaining omega-3: Compared to any other animal fat or hydrogenated oil, tallow made from beef helps to retain omega-3 in our tissues. This is another reason why one must consume tallow. This ability of tallow is attributed to it being a saturated fat.