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Suet vs. Tallow: How Do These Dietary Fat Resources Differ?

Suet and tallow are among the richest sources of fat that you can use in your diet. A rich source of fat with zero carbohydrates is an important part of many recipes, especially in high-fat diets. Comparing suet vs. tallow, you’ll find out they’re generally the same because tallow is rendered from suet. However, there are some differences in nutrients and textures that you should know.

Suet vs. Tallow: How Do These Dietary Fat Resources Differ?
Highlights
  • Suet is the raw fat from beef, lamb, or mutton and can be found around the loins and kidneys.
  • Tallow is made by melting and simmering suet to separate solids from liquid fat.
  • Both suet and tallow have an important role in cooking due to similar nutrient profiles.
  • Suet and tallow can replace each other in recipes but the result may be slightly different because they differ in texture and moisture.

What Is Suet?

Suet is the raw and hard fat obtained from beef, lamb, or mutton, specifically found around the loins and kidneys of these animals. It has a melting point ranging from 45 °C to 50 °C, which means it remains solid at room temperature.

Also, it congeals between 37 °C and 40 °C and has a high smoke point that makes it suitable for deep frying and pastry baking [1].

Due to its unique characteristics like high melting point, richness, and moisture, suet is used in traditional recipes, especially in pastry baking and certain types of puddings like British Christmas pudding.

It can enhance the texture and flavor of dishes and is suitable for high-temperature cooking methods, which makes suet a versatile ingredient in various culinary traditions.

Suet has become popular in high-fat diets like the Carnivore diet due to its nutritional profile.

Dr. Cate Shanahan, Family Physician and Nutrition Consultant:

"Suet, the raw hard fat found around the kidneys of cattle and sheep, is one of the most stable fats for cooking at high temperatures. When rendered, it becomes tallow, which has been used traditionally for frying due to its high smoke point and stable saturated fat content."

Suet Nutritional Value

Suet is packed with high levels of fat with zero carbohydrates and fiber, which makes it a good option for low-carb and high-fat diets.

Please note that suet’s nutritional value can vary depending on the specific animal source [2]. The following table shows the nutrients in 100 grams of beef suet [3]:

Calories (kcal)852
Fat (g) 94
Protein (g) 2
Carbohydrates (g) 0
Fiber (g) 0
Sugar (g) 0
Cholesterol (mg) 68

The primary use of suet is to make tallow. With a simple process, tallow can be rendered from suet and used in many recipes.

What Is Tallow?

Tallow is a type of rendered fat derived from suet. The process of rendering is the melting and simmering of suet to separate the solid components from the liquid fat.

Tallow is solid at room temperature and has a melting point between 40 °C and 45 °C. This solid state and stability at high temperatures make it usable in cooking, soap making, candle production, and various other applications. But the most common use of tallow is as a cooking fat.

It’s used to enhance the flavor of different dishes, especially in traditional recipes like beef stew or classic meat pies [4] [5]. Tallow can be derived from suet with special tools and methods.

Learn More: A Low-Carb Diet: Your Free Beginner Guide

Dr. Shawn Baker:

"Tallow, rendered from suet, is a highly nutritious fat that is rich in fat-soluble vitamins and is an excellent source of energy on a low-carb or ketogenic diet."

How Is Tallow Made?

For rendering tallow from suet, you’ll need the following tools:

  • 16-Quart Stock Pot: It is for cooking fats, and it’s better to be big enough to avoid splashing on your countertops or stovetop.
  • Fine Mesh Strainer: A good strainer is needed for straining large pieces of meat and other impurities that don’t cook down with the fat.
  • Funnel: It is needed for doing the final straining into your storage jar(s).
  • 100% Cotton Cheesecloth: It’s the best item to do the final straining, but you can also use a coffee filter or paper towel.
  • Wide-Mouth Mason Jars: These jars are perfect for storing tallow, as they have a wide mouth, so you can easily get the tallow in and out and store it in the fridge.

When you provide these tools, you can start rendering by following the steps below:

  1. Add the Beef Fat to the Stock Pot: Add the fat to a large stock pot and maintain a low and slow temperature during rendering to prevent the fat from turning brown with a funkier flavor. Low and slow temperature ensures that the tallow remains whiter when it cools.
  2. Slowly Simmer to Render the Beef Fat: You’ll notice the fat slowly renders and cooks. Also, there will be a light simmer and little bubbles during the cooking process. Notice these bubbles and if the rendered fat starts bubbling too much, reduce the heat.
  3. Strain: It’s a very important step. You should strain it twice to ensure it doesn’t have any impurities. The first strain is in a fine strainer and removes bigger pieces. Use cheesecloth for the second strain to remove all remaining small pieces.
  4. Use or Store: After the tallow is strained, you can store it in jars and put it in the fridge. It’s usable for up to 3 months. When it cools, it turns solid and white. Also, you can use it right after straining.

Learn More: Lard vs. Tallow: How To Use These Fat Sources?

Tallow is another good source of fat for high-fat ketogenic diets like Keto and Carnivore because of its nutritional profile.

Journal of Animal Science:

"Tallow, derived from suet, contains a higher concentration of saturated fats compared to other animal fats, making it highly resistant to oxidation and rancidity. This stability makes tallow an excellent choice for cooking and frying."

Tallow Nutritional Value

Tallow mostly contains saturated animal fat, but it contains unsaturated fats too. The breakdown of fats in tallow is about 45 to 50% saturated fat, 42 to 50% monounsaturated fat, and 4% polyunsaturated fat.

Learn More: High-Fat Carnivore Diet: Is It Healthy? Everything You Should Know

The exact amount of each kind of fat depends on the specific animal source. The following table shows the nutrients in 100 grams of beef tallow [6]:

Calories (kcal)902
Fat (g) 100
Protein (g) 0
Carbohydrates (g) 0
Fiber (g) 0
Sugar (g) 0
Cholesterol (mg) 109

Comparing suet vs. tallow, we can see that tallow has more fat and cholesterol. Also, the rendering process affects its texture, which results in differences between these fat sources.

What Are The Differences Between Suet and Tallow?

  • Suet is derived from the fat surrounding organs like kidneys, while tallow is produced by rendering fat without containing any bits of tissues.
  • Tallow has a white to yellowish-white color, while suet looks grainy and opaque [7].
  • Tallow melts sooner than suet.
  • Suet has a higher proportion of saturated fats, resulting in a firmer texture. Tallow contains more unsaturated fats, giving it a softer texture [8].
  • Suet has a rich, meaty flavor. In contrast, tallow has a milder taste, often described as nutty or buttery.

These differences in appearance, melting points, fat composition, and flavor lead to different uses for these two sources of fat.

How Is Suet Usually Used?

  • Pastry Production and Traditional Puddings: Suet is often used in pastry recipes, such as traditional British puddings. Its solid and firm texture helps create a flaky and tender crust.
  • Dumplings and Biscuits: Suet can be added to the dough and provide richness and texture for dumplings and biscuits [9].
  • Stuffings: Suet can provide flavor and moisture to stuffings for roasts and poultry [10].
  • Bird Feed: It is used in bird feed and provides a high-energy source for birds, especially during colder months when they require more calories [11].
  • Deep Frying: In some recipes, suet is used for deep frying due to its high smoke point and providing a unique flavor for fried foods [12].
American Heart Association:

"While suet and tallow are traditional cooking fats with a long history of use, it's important to consider their high saturated fat content. Diets high in saturated fats have been linked to increased LDL cholesterol levels and a higher risk of heart disease."

How Do You Use Tallow?

  • Food: Tallow is used as an ingredient in the production of shortening and is a key component of the Native American food pemmican. Traditionally, tallow with a smoke point of 249 °C has been the preferred choice for deep frying in major fast-food chains like McDonald's, before the shift to pure vegetable oil in 1990 [13].
  • Greaves: Greaves, or cracklings, constitute the matter leftover from rendering. They are often pressed into cakes and utilized as animal feed, particularly for dogs and hogs, or as fish bait.
  • Candles: Historically, tallow was used as a cheaper alternative to wax varieties in making molded candles and tallow dips.
  • Industry: Tallow is used in various industrial processes, such as serving as a flux for soldering [14].
  • Textiles: In textile manufacturing, mutton tallow is widely utilized as a starch, lubricant, and softener. It provides necessary strength and lubrication in pretreatment processes like sizing and enhancing the quality of finished products [15].

Both suet and tallow are mainly used in cooking and have similar nutritional profiles, but can we use any of them instead of the other?

Tallow and Suet Can Replace Each Other in Many Recipes

  • Suet and tallow can be used as substitutes for each other, but there are some considerations. They both have a rich and savory flavor, but they differ in texture and moisture.
  • Before replacing suet and tallow with each other, you should check how your chosen fat can be used in the recipe. For example, in baking, the solid texture of suet is essential for pastries, so tallow may not be a good substitute.
  • However, suet can be used as a substitute for tallow in traditional dishes like puddings, pies, or pastry recipes.
  • Suet has a higher water content than tallow, so you need to adjust the other ingredients to get the desired consistency in the recipe.
  • Tallow can be used as a substitute for suet in certain recipes, especially if the recipe needs melted or rendered suet. However, tallow has a different texture and composition, so the final result may vary.

Summary

Comparing suet vs. tallow, we can say that both suet and tallow are rich sources of fat and have a quite similar nutrient profile. But their main difference is their texture and moisture.

So, if you’re on a high-fat and low-carb diet like Keto and Carnivore, you can use these fat sources in your diet.

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