August 21, 2022

Rendering Goat Tallow

Kinder buck

I love my goats and one of the hardest things to do is to decide who stays and who goes. Unfortunately, this is a necessity because I only have so much room and so much pasture. That means I can't keep them all. Fortunately, I chose a breed that is in demand for homesteads and small farms, Kinders. They are mid-size and dual-purpose (milk and meat), making them a good option for a small operation. 

Most of my surplus goats get sold. I don't make a profit, but this pays for feed and hay, which means my goats are self-supporting. Add milk, meat, manure, companionship, and endless entertainment, and I feel like I really come out ahead.

Does almost always sell because they are in higher demand than bucks. One buck can service a lot of does, so people keep more does. I do sell a lot of bucks and on occasion keep one. So what do I do with the ones I don't sell and don't necessarily want to keep? I could just keep them, and put a strain on our pasture and resources. Some folks do that. But I think the kindest thing to do is to humanly put them down and give them purpose after death, feeding others. The meat feeds us, the offal feeds pigs and chickens, the bones make nutritious broth and then feed the soil, and the hides can be tanned for leather. Finding purpose for every part of the animal is the responsible cycle of life.

When Dan butchers the meat for brining and freezing, he cuts off excess fat and I freeze it separately. Recently, I defrosted it and rendered it to tallow.

Rendering is the process of melting the fat, skimming off the bits of meat, and then pouring off the melted fat into storage containers to cool. From what I've read, the term lard refers to rendered pig fat, and tallow refers to the rendered fat of cows, sheep, and goats. Rendered chicken fat is called schmaltz. All of them are extremely important. They are used for cooking and soaps, and (once upon a time) tallow was also used to make candles.

The steps for making tallow (or lard) are easy: chop the fat into small pieces for quick melting, then put them in a large heavy-bottom pot with water covering the bottom.

Melting the fat.

The water prevents burning and evaporates off as the fat simmers and melts. It's a slow, gentle process that requires frequent stirring. 

Eventually, all that's left are the bits that don't melt. I transferred these to a cast iron skillet to finish browning them into cracklings.


When nicely browned, I drain them and store them in another jar. We use the cracklings just like bacon bits! In fact, here's my recipe for Cracklin' Cornbread. They are also yummy in scrambled eggs.

Cracklings and leftover oven-baked french fries in scrambled eggs.

Now, I'm guessing that folks who wrinkle their noses at cooking with animal fats have long since stopped reading this post. But if you haven't and are wondering how healthy they are, then I encourage you to read Sally Fallon's Nourishing Traditions. The science in that book completely changed my mind about the fats and oils we eat. The only oils I use now are extra virgin olive and coconut. For solid fats, I use butter, tallow, or lard. (Tallow and lard make the flakiest, melt-in-your-mouth pie crusts!)

My final yield from this project was 3 quarts of tallow, one quart of cracklings, and almost a pint more tallow from the cracklings.

Rendering Goat Tallow © August 2022


chipmunk said...

I rendered some beef tallow earlier this year, and have started using it instead of butter in my bread recipe. Finding that that doesn't change the taste of the bread, I'm going to try it as the fat in my banana bread today. Here's hoping it turns out okay; butter is getting expensive!

Leigh said...

Chipmunk, I find it works really well in breads and cakes. No odd flavor, but gives a really tender texture. An excellent substitute for butter.

Ed said...

I still dream of those lard pie crusts of yore. So does kinder meat have the same flavor profile of say a full sized goat breed? I don't get the chance to eat goat very often but it does have a distinct flavor that I have found some don't like but I kind of enjoy.

Having lived on a farm that raised hogs for a time, I find it hard to explain to others about eating some of the animals that one gets to know really well. But you have done a great job and I think what you are doing is more humane than letting them go to waste or to put an unnecessary strain on your farm.

Leigh said...

Ed, I don't recall that it tastes different from other breeds. I think it tastes similar to beef, although Dan says he can taste a difference. A lot of it depends on the age and sex of the goat. Mature bucks have a more distinct flavor. Younger animals are always more tender. I think their diet has something to do with it as well.

We honestly don't like killing animals, so I try to sell them first and if they must die, we try to do so as respectfully and humanely as possible. Dan, especially, likes his meat, so he's willing to take responsibility for that.

Annie in Ocala said...

Same here. I never bought in to the 'vegetable oil good, animal fats bad' theory. And absolutely hate slaughter day... But love the butchery and knowing I'm using everything I can in a closed loop here. And the food I consume had a great life. Short, but as stress free as anybody could have. And death is something none will escape, with most being more traumatic...

Leigh said...

Annie, the closed loop, yes! Finding a use for everything with no waste and no plastic packaging to throw away is a good feeling.

Good for you for not buying into the fat rhetoric! It always struck me as odd that before the advent of processed oils people didn't have all the health problems that animal fats are supposed to cause. Following the historical advertising is a good lesson in how science can be used as a sales gimmick.

wyomingheart said...

Oh Leigh, what a wonderful post! We use lard a lot of the time, and your tallow is so white and pretty! I don’t know why lard, and tallow get such a bad rap, because believe it or not…fat is your friend! Always has been and always will be! Oh, don’t let me get started about all the health lies they have besieged us with! Great post, and the tallow looks fabulous!

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Thanks for sharing the process Leigh. It probably rates as a high waste item now.

The goat I have had in the past was pretty strong, but likely an older animal. Occasionally I am somewhere that goat tacos are an option - I will have to try them sometime.

Leigh said...

Wyomingheart, I think the bad rap started back when they invented polyunsaturated oils. They were touted as heart healthy and saturated fats were the bad guys! Time and science not sponsored by the vegetable oil industry has proven how wrong that idea was.

TB, thanks! Strong tasting chevon is likely either an older animal or a male that wasn't butchered properly. The recommendation is to remove the testicles immediately, to avoid buck taint. Also, if animals are scared, they produce fear hormones that give their meat a strong flavor. All those things can affect flavor. The answer for such meat is to make strongly seasoned sausage!

Caroline M said...

When I had a brief soap making phase I made one batch based on lard. As I remember it had a lovely dense foam. I then decided that no-one needed that much soap and stopped, just in time to use the lot in the great handwashing of 2020.

Leigh said...

Caroline, ha! Isn't that the way of things. I can't recall that I ever made soap with lard. But my soap making days were a long time ago. It's something I say I'll get back to (if I ever find the time!)

Chris said...

Between you and Dan, you're so resourceful. I enjoyed following along your tallow making process.

Leigh said...

Thank you, Chris!