As we continue to experiment with different shaving soap formulas, we find that high tallow content makes excellent lather. With some free time in the lab, we took a day to render some tallow and get ready to make a new batch of hot process shaving soaps.
First stop is our local artisan butcher shop. The owner, Sal was nice enough to butcher about 5 lbs of beef tallow from his dry aged, grass fed, organic sides.
Once we got it back to the lab we froze it for a couple hours to make it easier to work with. When it was sufficiently frozen we chopped it as fine as we could with a knife and removed as much meat as possible.
Into the food processor it goes in small batches until we have a nice uniform consistency. The food processor really helps move this process along.
Now we get our crockpot nice and hot and slowly heat the suet(fat) until the fat completely renders into a liquid and the connective tissue and meat is left behind. This smells good at first, but eventually it doesn’t anymore. Trust me.
This process can take several hours. Don’t try to rush it or you will burn the batch and you might as well throw it out at that point.
Next we strain the whole mess through a few layers of cheesecloth into a large container with about 6 inches of water in the bottom, and place the whole thing in the fridge to cool.
Once cool, you can peel the whole disc of pure white tallow from the top of the water and pat dry.
Now our tallow is ready to be used for soap making, or even cooking with. From 5 pounds of beef suet we ended up with about 2.5 pounds of tallow. We probably could have gotten a bit more if we allowed it to render longer, but this amount is more than enough for our intended usage.
If you decide to try this yourself, be careful, don’t get burned, and try to work in a well ventilated area!