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This weekend I will be in possession of 100 lbs of beef suet (which I'll be getting from a butcher friend) and plan to render it into tallow. I can't even begin to imagine exactly what this amount of tallow will look like, but I'm absolutely certain I won't have nearly enough room in the fridge or freezer to store it.

I was told large quantities of rendered tallow can be stored at room temperature for up to or even a year; possibly longer if I keep it in my cool, dark basement. Rendered fats never last long enough in our house to know for sure.Apparently canning isn't an option because the heated fat will keep the jar from sealing, but it will be fine in a well sealed glass (Mason-style) jar.

A quick Google search turns up some anecdotal evidence but I'd prefer some science.

Can I store my rendered tallow in well-sealed glass jars in the basement for up to (or over) a year? More importantly, why or why not?

Edit: I've been operating under the assumption that the rendered tallow will be safer to store for a long period of time. I just saw on StillTasty (which doesn't have a tallow entry unfortunately) that commercial suet can be stored for a year in the pantry, opened or unopened. That seems really strange to me - is that true? I would expect fat to go rancid quickly in an opened container in the pantry. Is it because it's "commercial" suet - is there anything I could do to my suet so I could store it unrendered?

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80lbs rendered * 454g/lb / .96 g/cm^3 = 37833 cm^3, which is (33.57 cm)^3 or a cube slightly larger than a foot. If you can solidify it in a thick enough slab, you could cut it into pounds, wrap in waxed paper and store it in the basement fridge if you have room. – Chris Cudmore Feb 24 '11 at 16:12
Commercial suet is dehydrated and contains flour, hence the shelf-stable-ness. – Marti Feb 25 '11 at 0:33
I... grossly underestimated just how much preparation was needed before I could even consider the actual rendering process. 100 lbs of suet is approximately 3 large coolers filled to the brim. I did render a test batch of 1 lb, but the entire weekend was spent trimming the suet, cutting it into ~1" cubes, and then pulsing it in the food processor (which can only hold about 8oz of suet at a time - it's an attachment for a blender, not a standalone food processor). My knife hand is sore! Full-on rendering will start Monday; will post pictures of the 3 coolers from work in the morning! – stephennmcdonald Feb 28 '11 at 5:35
After a bout with the flu and a sick puppy as well, I've finally rendered everything once (I plan to double or triple render some of it to lessen the beef smell). I have many pictures to sort and post and will post my findings very soon! – stephennmcdonald Apr 12 '11 at 17:31
I just ran across this question. Whatever happened to the pictures and result of your 100lb rendering of the suet :) – Jay Mar 22 at 17:13
up vote 5 down vote accepted

Tallow does not need to be refrigerated and can last a year or longer. I would not worry greatly about decomposition, but oxidation can be a problem. Make sure to store it in an airtight container and you shouldn't have a problem.

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I waterbath can my tallow in jars for 10 minutes. I found a really good scientific explanation once saying why it was ok to can it this way but I can't find it now. Basically for fat to go rancid or for bacterial / mold to grow there has to be certain conditions met such as moisture, air, etc. Because rendered fat has no moisture, if done correctly, then it is safe to can in a water bath. Then you can store it on the shelf for longer than a year and it takes it out of the refrigerator or freezer. Seems I'm a little posting to this now but this is knowledge for the future :D

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Pure fats tend to last quite a long time and for whatever reason bacteria and bugs are not attracted to pure fats. You can also preserve food with ghee, lard and tallow as it's an oxygen barrier.

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It is because pure fats are completely devoid of water, and water is required for the bacteria or mold lifecycle. – SAJ14SAJ Nov 6 '13 at 13:42
While it may not be a good substrate for bacteria, there are other concerns when storing fat (rancidity being the main one). – SourDoh Nov 6 '13 at 15:56
Packing meat in fat predates canning. In european cultures, it typically goes by the french name confit ... but I don't know if you would need to wax seal it to avoid the top layer of fat from going rancid. – Joe Nov 3 '14 at 17:17

the best way to keep it is by vacuum sealing the fat or tallow making sure it is absolutely clean and dry. It will keep that way in a cool and dark place for well over a year.

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