What is Tallow, and Why Should I Use It?

What is Tallow, and Why Should I Use It?

Hey there! We're here to talk about lovable, versatile, oft-forgotten tallow. Let's get into it!

Tallow has been dependably used for centuries as a cooking oil and ingredient. It is nourishing, high in health-promoting saturated fat, and just plain delicious. Wonderful for frying potatoes, browning meat, and creating filling, nourishing dishes. Tallow benefits metabolism, keeps you fuller longer, and may help insulin sensitivity. 

Did you know that McDonald's fried their french fries in tallow until about 1990? That year, in the face of growing public concerns about health (based on *cough* intentionally *cough* misleading information), McDonald's gave in. Beef tallow was eliminated from the world-famous French fry formula and replaced with vegetable oil + beef flavors.

On an unrelated note: using vegetable oil helped cut their costs significantly. But it was mainly about "health"! 

(Anyone remember what the fries used to taste like?)


The breakdown in this post is based primarily on grass-fed tallow, which has a more beneficial nutrient profile than grain-fed. It really does make a difference!

Grass-fed tallow is higher in Vitamin A than muscle meat. Vitamin A plays a crucial role in cell production and differentiation, benefiting skin and eye health. 

An analysis conducted at the Burnsides Laboratory at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana found that the selected grass-fed tallow contained 45 percent less total PUFA, 66 percent less omega-6 linoleic acid, and four times more omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid. The ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids was over sixteen for the grain-fed tallow but only 1.4 for the grass-fed tallow.

The balance of omega 3 & 6 is better in grass-fed tallow, with much less PUFA (Polyunsaturated fatty acids) overall. 

Tallow's high smoke point makes it ideal for frying and cooking at high temperatures. Typical cooking oils are unstable, and become even MORE destabilized with heat. In contrast, tallow is not shaken. It is nourishing, calorically dense to keep you fuller longer, and flavorful.

When oils are heated past their smoke point, free radicals are generated and then consumed in whatever food you're eating. It's hard to avoid overheated oils in the modern world, but in our home cooking we can put this knowledge into practice, making sure to use cooking oils at their proper temperatures. Tallow's extremely high smoke point of 400-420ºF makes it one of the most versatile cooking mediums around. Other great options are bison tallow (350ºF), duck fat (375ºF), lard (370ºF), avocado oil (375ºF), and olive oil (325-350ºF)

Tallow soaps and candles! Talk about old-world luxury.

Tallow soaps are wonderfully nourishing; uniquely able to deep clean surfaces and skin without stripping or drying.

"But wait," you say, "doesn't tallow smell, um, beefy?" That depends!

Sourcing is everything. When tallow is grass-fed, well cleaned, and properly rendered, it has a very subtle, lightly fatty scent that is barely noticeable. If you aren't particularly pleased with the smell of tallow on its own, it can be easily infused with herbs, florals, and essential oils for natural fragrance. 

Check out our favorite tallow creations here at the Collection!

The fatty acids and overall makeup of tallow are very similar to our skin's sebum. 

Fun fact: “sebum” means tallow in Latin.

Tallow is a very absorbable and bio-adaptable moisturizer that leaves your skin feeling soft, supple, and well-nourished. It locks in moisture without clogging your pores, and can tackle the driest of the dry.

We have heard amazing testimonials from sufferers of acne, eczema, and psoriasis. The healing, anti-inflammatory properties of tallow must be experienced to be believed. The texture does take a couple of applications to get used to, but it goes on smoothly, and you aren't left feeling greasy or heavy. As a bonus, tallow skin products will typically last you a lot longer than typical cosmetics. A little bit goes a long way!

(Note: your dog might follow you around a little more than before. Even if your tallow balm is full of essential oils... they somehow know.)

Tallow isn't just nutritious, multipurpose, and delicious. It is also very sustainable, and in keeping with whole-animal-eating. Every tallow product we sell reduces animal-waste by utilizing this precious fat which is typically trimmed off and discarded. 

There's a lot of nonsense floatin' around out there about health. Here at Urban Farm Collection, we are all about the tried and true. A good life makes good use of good things.

Let's get away from the chemical concoctions and the lab-to-factory pipeline. Let's run on back to the farm and the home kitchen, and live a little bit more like our great-great-grandparents. 

Shop our full tallow collection from small farms and independent crafters!

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