Rendered Fats

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Pure fat is rendered from fat tissue by cutting the tissue into small pieces and gently heating them. Some fat melts out of the tissue, and more is squeezed out by applying pressure. Rendered beef fat is called tallow, and pork fat lard. The fats from different animals differ in flavor and in consistency. Fats from ruminant cattle and sheep are more saturated and therefore harder than pig or bird fats (due to their rumen microbes); and fats stored just under the skin are less saturated and therefore softer than fats stored in the body core, because their environment is cooler. Beef suet, from around the kidneys, is the hardest culinary fat, followed by subcutaneous beef fat, then leaf lard from pig kidneys, and lard from back and belly fat. Chicken, duck, and goose fat are still less saturated and so semiliquid at room temperature.