I recently rendered some beef tallow. I froze the suet and thawed it in the fridge prior to using it. When chopping it up for the slow cooker, I noticed that it seemed really dry and chalk-like. The process seemed to proceed normally - I rendered for about 16 hours and filled three jars which I left on the counter to cool for about 8-10 hours with the lids loose. Flash forward to last night, I pulled it out of the fridge and noticed that the final product has a similar dry texture. My wife has already complained that it solidifies really quickly and sticks to the roof of her mouth. Does anybody know what happened here? Did I screw up the suet by freezing it? Did I dry it out by letting it cool with the lids loose?
The higher in stearic and palmitic acid (the longest-chain saturated fats), the harder and waxier it will be. The higher in oleic acid (monounsaturated) and short-chain saturated fats, the softer it will be.
Adding water will just make it spatter when it cooks: oil and water don't mix. Perhaps you could add some coconut oil to thin it out a bit.
I got two (pretty much identical) packages of suet from my meat CSA farmer, from grass-fed, healthy cows. I noticed the fat was very dry and chalky, too. With the first batch of tallow I rendered, we had the same problem of it leaving a disgusting film on the roof of our mouths. It was really inedible and smelled of candle wax. I had followed the directions for rendering tallow exactly. With the second batch, I had found a direction website with pictures that showed the cracklin's much darker than I had rendered the first time. So after the tallow was in the oven for something crazy like 12 hours, and still wasn't that dark, I finished it on the stove until it was the same dark color. And what do you know, the second batch didn't leave a coating. In fact, it's delicious. So I think the problem is not cooking it hot enough: an incomplete render, perhaps.
edit: Oh, yeah, it was in the Pemmican Manual.
I ordered tallow from US Wellness and it's extremely hard and dry. I have to carve out a bit with a sharp implement as it doesn't scoop.
I assumed it was because of purity as beef fat IS hard. It works and tastes great once melted, so I haven't worried about it.
I haven't noticed any coatings in my mouth but I don't mind the feel of fat so it could be and I just don't notice. I do eat salad and veggie with my meat.
I keep 5 pound pieces of unrendered leaf lard in the freezer, and I render one of them periodically to produce lard for cooking. I follow about the same process as you, except that I only render for about an hour. Basically chop it up into 1-2 inch pieces and put in a pan over low heat until it's all rendered and the cracklins are crisp. I have never rendered tallow, but why does it take so long?
I don't think that freezing and thawing should have any ill effects on the fat, assuming that it was handled well before freezing. If it was fully thawed and refrozen, perhaps more than once, then that might cause it to change consistency.
It sounds like it was dry and chalky before you rendered it, where did it come from? Any chance that it was cooked or treated in some way before you got ahold of it?
Some suet is going to be flakier or chalkier, like if it is leaf lard from near the kidneys.
Leaf lard is supposed to be good stuff, but I don't know how you are serving it.
It almost sounds like you are eating it straight. If so, you get a +1 for having real cojones but I'm not following you there.