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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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    @5arx, I originally set out on a mission to render my own lard this month, so I asked around to everyone I knew who knew farmers or butchers directly. The only response I got so far was "I can get you 100 lbs of suet this week" and I said "For free? SURE!" Some of it will be for making pastries, a lot of it will be used for deep frying, and I may try my hand at candlemaking if I end up having enough. I like using rendered fat in place of oil for things like sautéing onions so I'm sure I'll keep a jar by the stove too. Oh, and I have a picky eater dog, might mix some in her food :) – stephennmcdonald Feb 24 '11 at 21:34
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    Commercial suet is dehydrated and contains flour, hence the shelf-stable-ness. – Marti Feb 25 '11 at 0:33
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    @5arx, I am not :) The health implications of eating too many saturated fats, sure. However, if you're using butter, you're already getting a lot of saturated fat. Lard and tallow are actually healthier than butter (though not healthier than, say, olive oil). Still, I don't plan to use tallow at every meal. I already live a life of moderation - for example I love bacon, but I don't eat it every day. Here is an article discussing the benefits of saturated fats in one's diet that I found interesting. This one is about lard but also relevant. – stephennmcdonald Feb 25 '11 at 21:44
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    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
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    I just ran across this question. Whatever happened to the pictures and result of your 100lb rendering of the suet :) – Jay Mar 22 '16 at 17:13
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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.

  • you can even preserve a lot of foods by plopping them in the tallow before jarring it. – Sdarb Aug 26 '16 at 17:38
  • Your answer covers tallow; what about suet? – Srid says Reinstate Monica Jun 25 at 1:36
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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
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    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
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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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I render mine in a slow cooker then filter and pour into Silicone cupcake pan making small discs. I then put these in plastic freezer bags and store them in the freezer. They will pretty much last forever in there so long as I double bag it to keep the freezer burn down and since they are easy size I can just grab one when needed. In theory you can store it in jars but the problem can happen with impurities spoiling a jar. I tend to salt the bottom of the jar and warm can them. For extra security you can use a food grade wax at the top of the jar before sealing. I would expect this to be good for at least a year in jars if not more. Note that suet is going to keep much better then lard. The fat around kidneys was used for candle making and keeps solid at room temp so less air to spoil.

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