Beef tallow, also known as rendered fat or lard, has been a staple in many kitchens for centuries. It’s a versatile ingredient that can be used for cooking, baking, and even skincare.
But how long does beef tallow last? The answer may surprise you. In this article, we’ll explore the shelf life of beef tallow and provide tips on how to store it properly to ensure it stays fresh and edible.
So, whether you’re a prepper looking to extend the shelf life of your cooking fats or a home cook looking to incorporate more natural ingredients into your recipes, keep reading to learn more about the longevity of beef tallow.
How Long Does Beef Tallow Last?
Beef tallow has a long shelf life compared to other cooking fats and oils. At room temperature, beef tallow can last up to 12 months. However, to extend its shelf life, it’s recommended to store it in the refrigerator or freezer.
When refrigerated, beef tallow can last up to 18 months, and when stored in the freezer, it can last for over two years. It’s important to note that the tallow should be stored in a sealed container to prevent exposure to air, sunlight, and heat.
If you’re making homemade beef tallow, it’s best to store it in the refrigerator or freezer as well. Homemade beef tallow will last for up to three months when stored at room temperature and up to six months when stored in the fridge.
It’s important to keep in mind that beef tallow is high in fat content and can spoil quickly if not stored properly. When storing beef tallow, make sure it’s in an airtight container and kept away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
What Is Beef Tallow?
Beef tallow is a type of fat that’s extracted from various fatty cuts of beef. It’s made by rendering suet, which is the hard, white fatty layer that surrounds an animal’s organs, specifically the loins and kidneys. The process of rendering involves gently heating suet to separate the fat from any remaining muscle or connective tissue. The result is a pure fat that once cooled, is solid at room temperature.
Beef tallow has a wax-like consistency and can be used in cooking as a substitute for oil or butter. It has a high smoke point, making it ideal for frying and other high-heat cooking methods. Beef tallow also has a long shelf life compared to other cooking fats and oils, making it a popular choice for those who want to reduce food waste.
Historically, beef tallow has been used in a variety of ways beyond cooking. It has been converted into biofuel, incorporated into medicinal salves, and used to make candles and grease rifles. Today, it’s still used by chefs to make statement dishes and as a flavorful spread for toast.
The Benefits Of Using Beef Tallow In Cooking And Skincare
Beef tallow is not only great for cooking, but it also has numerous benefits for skincare. When used in cooking, beef tallow is a healthier alternative to other cooking fats and oils like vegetable oil or butter. It has a high smoke point, meaning it can be used for high-heat cooking methods like frying without breaking down and producing harmful compounds.
In skincare, beef tallow is loaded with vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as antioxidants. Vitamin E, in particular, has potent antioxidant properties that protect the skin from damaging UV light and reduce the damage that’s already caused. Vitamin A encourages the production of collagen, elastin, and healthy skin cells, which helps keep skin firm, smooth, and youthful. Vitamin D contributes to skin cell development, repair, metabolism, and immune function while protecting against free radicals that cause premature aging. Vitamin K plays an important role in skin tone, texture, and overall health while soothing skin inflammation and irritation.
Beef tallow also contains high concentrations of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K in a balanced combination with their activators. Grass-fed tallow even has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties thanks to high concentrations of essential fatty acids your skin needs. It closely resembles the human skin cell structure and doesn’t clog pores or interfere with the sebaceous glands.
Using beef tallow in skincare can help prevent the breakdown of collagen, which is a great way to prolong the aging of the skin. With regular use, you can feel your skin becoming softer and more radiant. Beef tallow is effective in handling free radicals and preventing fine lines and superficial wrinkles from developing.
However, it’s important to note that beef tallow has impurity and stability issues and a foul odor. Also, it’s not cruelty-free. So if you’re considering using beef tallow in your skincare routine, make sure to choose grass-fed beef tallow from a reputable source that uses sustainable farming practices.
Factors That Affect The Shelf Life Of Beef Tallow
Several factors can affect the shelf life of beef tallow. One of the most significant factors is the presence of impurities in the storage containers. When tallow is exposed to impurities, it can oxidize and go bad quickly.
The temperature at which beef tallow is stored also affects its shelf life. When stored at room temperature, beef tallow can last up to 12 months. However, when refrigerated, it can last up to 18 months, and when stored in the freezer, it can last for over two years.
It’s important to note that exposure to air, sunlight, and heat can also impact the shelf life of beef tallow. To ensure that beef tallow lasts as long as possible, it should be stored in an airtight container and kept away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
The quality of the beef tallow also plays a role in its shelf life. Beef tallow made from grass-fed cows is generally of higher quality and has a longer shelf life than tallow made from conventionally raised cows.
Finally, the age and weight of the animal at slaughter, as well as the type and quality of forage they consume, can impact the color and quality of the beef tallow. While variations in color are normal and do not affect the shelf life, it’s important to ensure that the tallow is properly rendered and free from impurities to extend its shelf life as long as possible.
How To Store Beef Tallow Properly
Storing beef tallow properly is crucial to ensure its freshness and longevity. Here are some tips on how to store beef tallow properly:
1. Use a sealed container: When storing beef tallow, make sure to use a sealed container to prevent exposure to air, sunlight, and heat. This will help to keep the tallow fresh and prevent it from going rancid.
2. Refrigerate or freeze: Beef tallow can be stored at room temperature, but it’s recommended to store it in the refrigerator or freezer for longer shelf life. When refrigerated, beef tallow can last up to 18 months, and when stored in the freezer, it can last for over two years.
3. Label and date: It’s important to label and date the container of beef tallow to keep track of its freshness. This will help you know when it’s time to use or discard the tallow.
4. Keep away from direct sunlight and heat sources: Exposure to direct sunlight and heat can cause the beef tallow to spoil quickly. Therefore, it’s important to store it in a cool, dark place away from any heat sources.
By following these simple steps, you can ensure that your beef tallow stays fresh and flavorful for longer periods of time.
Signs That Beef Tallow Has Gone Bad
Although beef tallow has a long shelf life, it can still go bad if not stored or used properly. Here are some signs to look out for to determine if your beef tallow has gone bad:
1. Discoloration: One of the easiest signs to spot rancidity in beef tallow is by its appearance. If you notice any discoloration or a change in color, it’s a sign that the tallow has gone bad.
2. Unpleasant Smell: Normally, beef tallow has a pleasant odor resembling smoked beef or jerky. However, if you notice an unpleasant, sour, or soapy smell, it’s a sign that the tallow has gone rancid.
3. Bitter Taste: A change in taste is a common indicator that something has gone bad, and beef tallow is no exception. If you notice that your beef tallow has developed a bitter or stingy taste, it’s a sign that it has gone bad.
4. Presence of Mold or Other Contaminants: If you notice any mold growth or any other contaminants on the surface of your beef tallow, it’s a sign that it has gone bad and should be discarded immediately.
It’s important to note that consuming rancid beef tallow can cause an upset stomach and does not provide any nutritional value. Therefore, if you notice any of these signs, it’s best to dispose of the cooking fat immediately to prevent any health risks.
Ways To Use Beef Tallow Before It Expires
Beef tallow has a variety of uses in the kitchen and beyond. Here are some ways to use beef tallow before it expires:
1. Cooking: Beef tallow is a great substitute for cooking oils and fats. It has a high smoke point, making it perfect for frying, sautéing, and searing meats. It also adds a rich and savory flavor to dishes.
2. Baking: Beef tallow can be used as a substitute for butter or oil in baking recipes. It gives baked goods a flaky texture and adds a subtle beefy flavor.
3. Candle making: Beef tallow has been used for centuries to make candles. It’s an affordable and eco-friendly alternative to store-bought candles.
4. Soap making: Beef tallow is a common ingredient in homemade soap recipes. It helps to create a rich lather and moisturizes the skin.
5. Moisturizer: Beef tallow can be used as a moisturizer for dry skin. It’s high in vitamin E and other antioxidants that help to nourish and protect the skin.
6. Rust prevention: Beef tallow can be used to prevent cast iron pots and pans from rusting. Simply rub a small amount of tallow onto the surface of the cookware before storing it.
7. Leather waterproofing: Beef tallow can be used to waterproof leather boots, jackets, and other items. Rub a small amount of tallow onto the surface of the leather and let it soak in overnight.