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Monday, August 27, 2007

First, We Have to Render Fat

Last week, I realized that I was running a 15 cubic foot freezer to keep about 2 cubic feet of food cold. Not being a fan of wasting electricity (freezers work harder the less frozen stuff there is in them), I decided to consolidate it all into the freezer with the dog food. While doing so, I found several pounds of beef suet that I hadn't touched since making pemmican for my ski trip in January. So I decided to do something with it....namely, I decided to render it into cooking fat. What you see above is the result of leaving it on the stove for a few hours of melting, occasionally straining it and putting it into the jar. I didn't take a picture of the leftover bits, but when you render fat, the fat turns to liquid and separates from the protein and other parts leaving pure liquid fat and bits of funky looking stuff (industry terminology). These bits of funky looking stuff went in the trash. Harder core people than I may have some use for them, but I just tossed them without searching for any use for them. I now have 2 jars of delicious, healthful, grass-fed fat for use in cooking. I probably could have squeezed another 1/4-1/2 a jar from the leftovers, but I had been at it for 2.5 hours, bedtime was nearing, and I was tired. This fat has a delicious buttery flavor and its high level of saturation (OH MY GOD, I'M GONNA DIE!) gives it great level of stability in cooking to go with a high melting point.

If you do render fat, make sure you are prepared to clean because this stuff is sticky! Going back to that high melting point, it is both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is the stability that it lends to the fat in cooking. The curse is that it I had to run the hot water on full blast to get the fat to melt, give 2 scrubbings of the pot, spoon, and strainer that I used, and lots of work to clean up drips here and there. It was definitely worth it, but it's not the easiest job in the world.