Since everybody seem to be dry-rendering their animal fat, this is also the way I've been doing it until now. I usually do it in the slow-cooker at low temperature.
Today, I've picked-up an order for some pre-rendered lard from my butcher and I find the taste and smell to be much better than what I rendered in the past. The fat I got today is from the fatback and the one I usually render is leaf lard. I read leaf lard usually has no smell or taste, so this might be an explanation for I bought having a nicer taste.
The one I render myself though as a kind of "brown" smell and taste to it. Like if the cracklings changed the taste and smell of it. When I render tallow that taste is even more pronounced and I can even say I dislike tallow because of it.
I also read on Wikipedia that wet-rendering produces a fat that has a higher smoking point.
With all that said, I'm wondering if either:
If wet-rendering is the answer, what's to best way to go about doing that? Anybody had experiences similar to mine?
Ive done both wet and dry methods. Mostly i stick with wet nowadays because i am usually rendering a larger amount. When you have a pound or more of fat to render i find that the dry heat is not going to penetrate as evenly speedwise, and you may end up with burnt oil andor burnt cracklins as a byproduct. Theyll give you some off flavors I'd say. The water in the wet method just kinda slows everything down and mediates the process i find.
One thing that it might be (and this is wholly from my own experience) is a "dirty" pot. I had a couple burnt-tasting batches of lard a year ago and it turned out that it was the Creuset pot i was using. Wonderful pot but i had just used it soooo much, and hadnt i suppose cleaned it quite well enough. It was giving me off flavors.
ps. While I firmly believe tallow to be among the most healthy fats for us, i too have always found the flavor too aggressive. I stick with duck fat, lard, coconut oil, and butter. I do always kind of worry about the heavy load of omega6s in the duckfat and lard though:/ Oh and i render my duck fat with the dry method, however.
I rendered tallow from instructions from a 1930's french cookbook, La Bonne Cuisine. This procedure used a scant 1/2 c of water per 1 lb raw fat, chopped into 1-2 cm pieces. The water creates steam to help the fat liquify, once it evaporates the rendering begins. Turn the heat way down, and the smell will let you know when it is done. Then strain out the cracklins and you have pure, hot fat, ready to deep fry. This cookbook came out in an English translation published by Ten Speed in 2005 and is a treasure trove of meat and veg cookery.
I haven't tried wet, but I have had a batch that overheated in the crockpot and developed a burned taste. Now I always monitor it closely throughout the process instead of just leaving it overnight. Mine is very mild tasting. I have my eye on a crockpot that has actual temperature settings, instead of just "low" and "high".
I use wet. I get most of mine from cooking whole cuts in wine in a crockpot on low, so the resulting fat is very high-quality. Low temps + antioxidants in wine= good stuff.
For dry rendering I use my wok at a low temperature, stiring frequently while doing my housework. I use minced fat (goose or porc), which renders much faster than pieces of fat and you get more lard from 1 pound of fat... The only thing is: you don't get those nice cracklings...
Perhaps next time I try the wet rendering method...
I use a combination - I start the fat in a stainless steel pan on the stove. When it is hot, has developed a bit of a crust, and I have at least 1/2c of fat I transfer it to my crockpot. I have an old one from the 80s that is just off-low-high. I set it to low, put on the cover and walk away.
I suspect they were getting the fat too hot.
Recently I got the meat grinder attachment for my Kitchen-Aide mixer. I sent a lb of cubed lamb fat (I believe from the belly) through it before rendering it in a 2 qt pot with enough water to cover the bottom and it was both the fastest and "cleanest" rendering I've ever done. Interestingly, I didn't measure the amount of water, but it probably was a scant 1/2 cup. And I did seem like the steam coming up through the fat helped to melt it all at once.
I think the increased surface area from grinding let the fat cook down much, much faster and at a lower temperature. I rendered on a low flame until just a little after the pot had stopped steaming/boiling. The fat came out perfectly white, and with a much milder flavor than ever before. When I was done I didn't even have cracklin's, it was actually meat approaching stewed hamburger. I saved it in the fridge and fried it the next morning before adding scrambled eggs to the skillet.
Previously, when I rendered using hand-cubed fat the fat came out just a touch brown, and the "meat" left behind was true craklin'. I think the difference was the cubed fat took longer and got hotter on the outsides before the center was able to render.
In general, I dislike rendering suet into tallow. I've done both wet and dry. It is time consuming and messy and the taste isn't great. I think overcooking is a problem. The reason why I would render was to increase the fat content of my meals. 85/15 ground beef is 40% protein by calories which is on the protein ceiling. Beef heart is 35 % fat and 65% protein by calories and needs an added fat source. I tried cutting off chunks of suet and cooking those chunks with the meal, but the suet has membranes within it which prevents the fat from oozing out.
The solution I discovered was to use a carrot peeler on the suet. The action of making thin slivers of suet destroyed the membranes and allows the suet to spread out when cooked. I haven't tried using a cheese grater. I cook the suet slivers with the beef heart.
I cut the beef fat into pieces, put them in a large stainless steel bowl and place that on a steamer in a large pot and steam it for at least a couple of hours. I then push the fat through a sieve or strainer...produces great tallow.
I'm doing my first batch of wet rendering right now. I've done it before as a side-result of slow cooking tripe and stuff, but this is my first dedicated batch, nothing intended for direct consumtion.
Anyway, if I understand right, I'm going to have some suety bodily tissue in the bottom of the pot, the stuff that would have become cracklin's in a dry-render. Can I strain out this stuff and fry it up and enjoy the cracklin's that way? I don't wanna miss out just because I'm not set up for big batch of dry frying.