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HOW TO STORE BEEF TALLOW LONG TERM
So you want to learn how to store your beef tallow long term? This is a great idea because tallow is a healthy and versatile cooking fat in and out of the kitchen. Fortunately, compared to other cooking fats and oil, it is a shelf stable cooking fat with a long shelf life. Previously, we have written on the shelf life of ghee, avocado oil, lard, and other healthy cooking oils and fats. For this article, we went out and found all you need to know about extending the shelf life of beef tallow so we could share it with our audience.
To summarize our findings, beef tallow has a shelf life of 12-18 months when refrigerated, and over 2 years in a freezer. However, when kept at room temperature, it has a shelf life of 12 months. There are tactical steps you can take to ensure you extend the shelf life as long as possible. Read below to find out more.
Note: You should know, sheep fat is called tallow, but for this article, we will be referring to beef tallow.
What is Beef Tallow?
Let’s begin by explaining what beef tallow is. Much like ghee and butter, beef tallow is a cooking fat that comes from a cow. It is made when beef is placed over a heated surface, typically around 225-250° F, or 107-121 °C, over several hours. At this point, the rendered fat will pour out of the beef meat. What is left at the bottom of the pot, is the rendered tallow.
Beef tallow is high in saturated fats, so it is solid at room temperature. Like other animal fats, beef tallow has a high smoke point at 400°F or 205°C. For comparison purposes, lard and olive oil have a smoke point of 374°F or 190°C.
When comparing the shelf life of tallow to other cooking fats and oils, tallow has a relatively long shelf life, making it a useful option for long term storage. Beef tallow at room temperature can be stored for 12 months without it going rancid, but lard and unrefined avocado oil at room temperature have a shelf life of 4-6 months.
Additionally, you should know that not all tallow is the same. The quality of the tallow largely depends on the diet of the cow as well as where on the cow the fat has been sourced. Grass-fed and pasteurized cattle will yield better tallow compared to a cow raised on corn and cereal on an industrial farm.
When it comes to cooking, beef tallow is incredibly delicious and resistant to high temperatures. It is commonly used for pan-searing meats, sautéing vegetables, and deep frying fries.
Cultures across the world have used beef fat for centuries in their cuisines. But in the past century, saturated fats were said to be unhealthy, a theory that was later debunked. Animal fats are in fact some of the healthiest options since they are loaded with healthy nutrients and are natural foods.
Fun Fact: a popular native American dish called, Pemmican, uses tallow, among dried meat and berries as its primary ingredients.
Extending the Shelf Life of Beef Tallow
At room temperature, tallow has a shelf life of 12 months. It can be extended in a refrigerator for up to 18 months, and for over 2 years in a freezer. However, to ensure the tallow can reach its expiration date, we must take extra precautions to make sure it stays fresh and edible. A prepper, working on extending the shelf life of cooking fats and oils, should consider:
Exposure to Air, Sunlight, and Heat
Protecting Beef Tallow from Air, Sunlight, and Heat Exposure
Air, sunlight, and heat exposure are the primary reasons why cooking fats spoil before their expiration date. Below we will cover how to protect against these rancid causing factors.
Reducing exposure to air
Exposure to air is the quickest way for the tallow to go rancid. Luckily, this can be resolved easily by making sure to reseal the container after using the tallow. Generally speaking, you should be using an airtight container for the best protection against air.
Reducing exposure to sunlight
Sun has numerous healing properties and should be embraced daily. But when it comes to food, prolonged sunlight can cause food to spoil. To protect the beef tallow from direct sun exposure, make sure to store the tallow and a dark, cool food storage location.
Generally speaking, a pantry, refrigerator, or freezer would be perfect for protection against direct sunlight.
Reducing exposure to heat
When cooking oils and fats are exposed to heat, the properties of the fats are altered and it spoils much sooner. So, by avoiding heat exposure the tallow will stay fresh and edible for longer. Heat exposure can be prevented by keeping the tallow in a dark, cool place such as a refrigerator or freezer.
By preventing exposure to direct sunlight, you are most likely protecting against heat exposure as well.
Proper Packaging for Beef Tallow
The type of packaging the beef tallow is placed in affects the shelf life and freshness of the fat. So it is important for preppers to know the difference between the packaging options when planning long term storage. The different packaging options are:
Glass jars are how beef fat should be kept if you are cooking for a family of four or less. We like to use glass jars because they are airtight, making them a great tool for preserving the fat, and its easy to store in storage locations.
Additionally, jars are effective at keeping microplastics out of the fat, because it often leaks into the jar in a plastic container. You should use glass or metal containers when possible to reduce food’s exposure to microplastics. Another reason to use glass jars is that they are more effective than plastic at reducing exposure to heat. Plastic when exposed to direct sunlight, tends to heat quicker than a glass jar.
The downside of using glass is that it is fragile. It can easily shatter and ruin and spill the tallow on the floor.
Quick Tip: If you intend to freeze the beef fat, make sure to use freezer safe glass.
If you are looking to preserve beef fat in bulk for an extended period of time, storing in plastic buckets will be your best option. Plastic buckets are airtight containers, with limited exposure to direct sunlight. This is also the best dollar per pound value for beef fat.
The downsides of using plastic buckets are that it cannot protect against heat exposure as well as a glass jar. If you decide to use this packaging method, you should consider storing the plastic bucket in a cool, dark place, especially if you are in a warm climate.
Plastic containers for food storage should be avoided. We suggest against it because the material is most prone to be affected by air, sunlight, and heat exposure.
The main upside of tallow in plastic jars is the price of the product. Items found in plastic are often cheaper compared to glass jars. If you care about building a basic emergency pantry location, for a discounted price, you’ll likely find a more affordable option of tallow in a plastic container.
Quick Tip: If you purchase tallow in a plastic container, consider moving the tallow into a glass jar for better protection against air, sunlight, and heat exposure.
Storage locations for Beef Tallow
Storing tallow is relatively simple because it is a shelf stable cooking fat. Tallow can be stored in a:
Pantry – Tallow stored at room temperature has a shelf life of up to 12 months.
Refrigerator – Tallow kept in a fridge has a shelf life of 12 to 18 months.
Freezer – Frozen tallow can be kept in a freezer for over 24 months.
How do I know if the Tallow has gone Rancid?
When cooking oils and fats spoil, they give off signs that are easy to spot. We must simply focus on the look, smell, and taste of the beef tallow as they are the best indicators of rancidity.
First, it’s best to begin by focusing on the look of the tallow. Be on the lookout for discoloration as this is often the easiest sign to spot rancidity.
If the tallow passes the sight test, focus on the smell of the tallow. Normally, tallow has an odor resembling smoked beef or jerky. However, a rancid cooking fat would have an odor that is sour or soapy. If you notice any of these odors, there is no need to proceed with a taste test, and you can dispose of them.
Finally, if the tallow passes the sight and smell test, you can taste the tallow for spoilage. Small sample size would be enough for you to know if the tallow has spoiled. Spoiled tallow is simply unsavory, and you will know from the flavor if it has gone rancid.
At this point, you should know if the tallow is safe to eat. If you have any doubt it has spoiled, it is best to dispose of the cooking fat immediately as keeping it around could cause more trouble later on. Consuming rancid tallow could lead to an upset stomach and does not provide any nutritional value.
FAQ about Beef Fat
Below are some frequently asked questions related to beef fat.
Healthy alternatives to Beef Tallow?
Beef tallow is natural animal fat, which means it is saturated fat and is solid at room temperature. There is a common misconception that animal fats are unhealthy, but the reality is, that they are in fact likeliest the healthiest and most beneficial nutrient in the human diet. Still, you should be aware that there are other cooking fats and oils on the market to help you achieve a healthier diet.
Healthy fats to consider are:
Healthy cooking oils:
How can Beef Tallow be Used?
Tallow is one of the best items to have in a prepper’s emergency food pantry because it is super versatile, and you can repurpose it for projects outside of cooking. Some ideas for tallow is to use it for:
Alleviate a rash
What are the Nutritional Facts of Beef Tallow?
Beef tallow is almost entirely made from the macronutrient, fat. One serving or a tablespoon (12.8 grams) of beef tallow is:
How to Dispose of Beef Tallow?
Disposing of cooking oils and fats should be taken seriously as proper disposal can save lots of money and stress later on. Typically, people dispose of their cooking fats by pouring it down the drain, but this can actually damage the pipes, as the fats solidify in the drains. If this occurs, it will be harder for water and waste to move down the pipes. Unless you can resolve this yourself, it would require an expensive call to a plumber. Some environmentally friendly ways of disposing of beef tallow are to:
Feed it to your Dog
Add it to a Bird Feeder
Add it to Compost
Turn it into Biodiesel Fuel
Use it as a Shaving Cream
Grass-fed beef tallow is a healthy fat option to include in your pantry if you would like to store cooking fat long term. When kept in a pantry, tallow at room temperature will have a shelf life of up to 12 months without going rancid. However, if refrigerated, it can be kept for 12-18 months, and even past 2 years if frozen.
Preppers should keep beef tallow in their pantry, as there are many uses of tallow in and out of the kitchen. In a SHTF scenario in which everyday goods are hard to come by, tallow can be used as a moisturizer, lip balm, alleviate a rash, as well as be used to make soap and candles.
Disclaimer: This is not health advice. This is the opinion of individuals who practice holistic living. You should consult with health experts before making drastic changes to your diet.
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If you are looking to buy cookware, you probably came down to ceramic cookware vs stainless steel cookware. Learn to see which is better for you.