How long does beef tallow last (unrefrigerated)?

(Bob M) #1

I found a plastic bucket of beef tallow. Turns out I bought it in May of 2020, so over 4 years ago. It looked good (no mold), but didn’t smell totally great. To me, it spelled a bit “off”, but then I’ve never smelled it when it was new. I ended up throwing it away.

But how long should beef tallow last if not refrigerated?

(Geoffrey) #2

I make my own tallow and always have a jar sitting out next to my stove.
I use it nearly every day in my cooking and a jar (standard mason jar) may last me about a month or so. In that time it’s never gone bad on me. Your nose of course is you friend in this regard. Now my house has central heat and air and our thermostat is set at 76. Temperature and humidity make a big difference so be mindful of that.
Even my salted butter sits out and never goes bad.
The best thing you can do is keep it in an airtight container and keep it refrigerated if you are concerned. It will easily keep a year in the refrigerator and two or more years if frozen.

(Bob M) #3

Yeah, we leave our butter out too.

I probably made a mistake by not refrigerating or freezing it. It was a 7 pound container, though. We were frying more back then. I still like frying, but my fryer is the kind that has a heating element in the container. To get hard tallow into it, I have to put the tallow into multiple jars, put them into a sous vide to heat them until they are mainly liquid, then dump them in the fryer. Cleaning up is a bear, as it takes 45+ minutes to filter the oil, clean everything, put the oil in an oil container…

So, we started frying less and the tallow just sat there…

If you do like to fry things, there are plenty of keto recipes that substitute pork rinds and/or Parmesan cheese for the breading. We had some great recipes.

We’re rethinking frying, because our kids really like fried chicken. I’ll have to get some more tallow, but freeze it this time (maybe into smaller chunks).


Beef fat can smell ‘off’ to people who are used to using pork fat. It’s definitely a different smell, much stronger. That said, I drain pork or beef fat into glass jars and leave it unrefrigerated on the back of my stove for what can be weeks at a time. I save the beef for basting in the oven, minimizing the odd smell, so it’s not used up very quickly. While I do collect pan drippings from bacon, I don’t use pan drippings for my tallow and instead I gather it when I make bone broth. Anything else, like roast drippings, are used as broth so there is no food remnants in my tallow.

Couldn’t you have microwaved the tallow pretty quickly? We do fry but we use a basket in a deep skillet on the stovetop. Much easier to clean up, requires less fat, etc.