Rendered animal fat, ususally beef or sheep. Hog tallow is known as Lard.
To clean tallow, melt in a pan with equal amount of water. Stir vigorously. Allow to cool and resolidify. Remove tallow and scrape the bottom layer of junk off the block.
Makes a smoky candle.
It provides little skin conditioning, but adds to the mildness and hardness of the soap. Tallow has a distinctive odor that can be difficult to mask. Most pioneer soaps were made with tallow.
To Make Tallow
Go to a butcher or a grocery store that has a real meat counter and ask for several pounds of beef fat scraps. The butcher may look at you funny. Say what you want the fat for, and the funny look usually goes away. Make sure it is understood that you only want BEEF fat. Pork fat makes lard, which has a different consistency than tallow. Phone the butcher first, since meat cutters usually throw out all the scaps after the morning cuttings. Some places do not charge for fat scraps. If you're charged more than a nickle a pound you're being ripped off.
Five to ten pounds of fat is a good amount to start with. Rinse it off with cool water, trim all the meat scraps off (use the meat to make broth or feed it to your dog - it will be fresh and will have been refrigerated). Chop the fat up into small pieces. The smaller the pieces, the better it will render, but it is tiring after a while, so I usually cut the pieces about the size of my thumb.
Fill a large pot - I use a stock pot or a canning pot - 1/3 to 1/2 full of fat and up to about an inch from the top with water. Put it on the stove over medium heat. Rendering tallow can be a rather smelly business, so turn on the fan in your stove hood, open a window, put a fan in the kitchen, or something. Bring the fat and water up to a low boil, and keep it there for a couple of hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes. Skim off any foam or blood that may rise up. Be sure to add more water as it cooks down. Be patient. As the tallow and water cooks out of them, what's left of the pieces of fat will shrink up into ugly little greyish things called "cracklings."
Take the pot off the heat and remove the cracklings with a slotted spoon or a seive. If you really want to, you can render them again to get the last bit of tallow out of them. I usually just throw them out. Strain the liquid - carefully! - through a few layers of cheescloth into a large mixing bowl and let stand to cool. After a couple of hours put it in the refrigerator to chill.
Once it's chilled take it out and remove the white stuff on top: this is tallow. The water underneath will be grayish and nasty, and a layer of gelatin may cling to the bottom of the tallow. Discard the water and the gelatin, and scrape the bottom of the tallow cake clean. If the tallow is fully rendered, it will be firm, uniform in color, and smooth in texture. If, at room temperature, it is yellowish, semi-liquid, grainy, or oily looking, put it in a pot with an equal amount of water, bring to a boil, strain into a bowl, and cool again, and discard the water and impurities that settle to the bottom. You may need to do this two or three times to get all of the impurities out.
Wrap the finished cake of tallow in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator. It will keep fresh for a couple of months.
Beef tallow has a melting point 35-40 deg. C.
Mutton tallow has a melting point 45-45 deg. C.