Store Beef Tallow ( For Long Shelf Life )

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Are you interested in discovering how to effectively store your beef tallow for extended periods? This is an excellent initiative as beef tallow serves as a nutritious and adaptable cooking fat both inside and outside the culinary sphere. Thankfully, when compared to other cooking oils and fats, beef tallow stands as a durable option with an extended shelf life.

When refrigerated, beef tallow has a shelf life of approximately 12-18 months, while in a freezer, it can last over 2 years. Conversely, when stored at room temperature, its shelf life reduces to around 12 months. Employing strategic measures can significantly contribute to prolonging its shelf life to the fullest extent possible.

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What is Beef Tallow?

Let’s delve into the essence of beef tallow. Similar to ghee and butter, beef tallow is a cooking fat derived from cattle. The process involves subjecting beef to heat on a heated surface, typically at temperatures ranging from 225-250°F (107-121°C), over several hours. During this process, the fat present in the beef gradually separates and drips off. The end result is the extracted tallow settled at the bottom of the container.

Rich in saturated fats, beef tallow remains solid at room temperature. Like other animal fats, its high smoke point sits at 400°F (205°C), surpassing comparatives such as lard and olive oil, which stand at 374°F (190°C).

In terms of shelf life in comparison to other cooking oils and fats, beef tallow possesses a notably extended longevity, rendering it a viable choice for prolonged storage. At room temperature, beef tallow remains fresh for a year without succumbing to rancidity, whereas lard and unrefined avocado oil has a shelf life of 4-6 months under similar conditions.

Furthermore, it’s important to discern that not all tallow is created equal. The quality of tallow hinges on factors such as the cow’s diet and the source of the fat within the animal. Tallow derived from grass-fed and pasture-raised cattle is superior to that extracted from corn and cereal-fed cows raised in industrial settings.

When it comes to culinary applications, beef tallow shines both in taste and resilience to high temperatures. It is commonly used for pan-searing meats, sautéing vegetables, and deep-frying fries.

Across the annals of history, diverse cultures spanning the globe have seamlessly woven beef fat into the fabric of their culinary traditions. Despite a past century’s misconception that saturated fats were detrimental to health – a theory subsequently debunked – animal fats, including beef tallow, stand as some of the most nourishing options, teeming with wholesome nutrients and inherent goodness. If you want to know how to store goose fat then check out my recent article Store Goose Fat ( Shelf Life & Storing ).

Prolonging the Shelf Life of Beef Tallow

When stored at room temperature, tallow maintains its quality for approximately 12 months. If refrigerated, its shelf life can be extended to around 18 months, while freezing can preserve it for over 2 years. Yet, to guarantee that tallow remains fresh and suitable until its expiration date, it’s essential to take additional measures for proper storage and maintenance.

Air, sunlight, and heat are key culprits that contribute to the premature spoilage of cooking fats. Below, we’ll detail strategies to safeguard against these factors that can lead to rancidity. If you want to know the shelf life of canola oil then check out my recent article Shelf Life Of Canola Oil ( Storing, Shelf Life, and Signs of Deterioration ).

Minimizing Air Exposure

Air exposure accelerates the degradation of tallow. Fortunately, this issue can be easily resolved by ensuring the container is tightly sealed after each use. Opt for an airtight container to provide optimal protection against air infiltration.

Limiting Sunlight Exposure

While sunlight has its benefits, extended exposure can expedite food spoilage. To shield beef tallow from direct sunlight, store it in a cool, dark food storage area. Generally, a pantry, refrigerator, or freezer provides an ideal shield against direct sunlight.

Mitigating Heat Exposure

Exposing cooking fats to heat leads to the alteration of their properties and hastens spoilage. By evading heat exposure, tallow can retain its freshness for an extended duration. Prevent heat exposure by storing the tallow in a cool, dark environment such as a refrigerator or freezer.

How long does beef tallow last after opening?

Based on our research, the shelf life of beef tallow remains consistent whether it’s sealed or opened. For store-bought beef tallow, it’s important to note that its shelf life is typically one year from the production date.

This implies that if you purchase a jar that has been on the shelves for several months, it’s advisable to either use it, refrigerate it, or freeze it earlier than a year to ensure optimal freshness and quality.

Is it safe to use beef tallow after its expiration date?

Due to its low moisture content, beef tallow enjoys a substantial shelf life. You might still be able to use beef tallow a bit past its expiration date, but only if there are no indications of spoilage.

If you’ve just unsealed a container of beef tallow and it’s approaching its expiration date, refrigerating or freezing it can extend its usability by a few more months.

However, if you’re uncertain, it’s best to discard it. It’s not worth sacrificing the taste of your dishes by using beef tallow that has lost its freshness. If you want to know the shelf life of almond oil then check out my recent article Shelf Life Almond Oil ( Short & Long Term Storage ).

What are the risks of using beef tallow that has turned rancid?

Due to its lower susceptibility to hosting bacteria, beef tallow carries a reduced risk of foodborne illnesses compared to other foods like meats and produce.

In the event that you consume a small amount of rancid beef tallow, you would probably detect the undesirable taste and halt consumption before ingesting a harmful quantity. In the case of consuming a significant quantity of spoiled beef tallow, you might experience digestive discomfort, but the chances of severe illness are minimal.

How To Package Beef Tallow

The choice of packaging for beef tallow significantly impacts its shelf life and overall freshness. Thus, it’s crucial for preppers to comprehend the distinctions between various packaging options when strategizing for extended storage.


For households with four individuals or fewer, choosing glass jars is the recommended approach for beef fat storage. We favor the use of glass jars due to their airtight nature, making them an excellent solution for preserving the fat’s quality, while also facilitating convenient storage in various locations.

Moreover, glass jars play a pivotal role in thwarting the intrusion of microplastics into the fat. Unlike plastic containers, which might allow microplastics to seep through, glass jars act as a reliable barrier against these particles. Whenever feasible, opting for glass or metal containers is advisable to minimize the exposure of food to microplastics. Another advantage of using glass jars is their superior effectiveness in mitigating heat exposure compared to plastic. Direct sunlight tends to heat plastic containers more rapidly than glass jars, making the latter a superior choice for minimizing heat-related deterioration.

However, it’s essential to acknowledge a drawback of glass usage – its fragility. Glass is susceptible to breaking, which could result in spills and the loss of tallow. Careful handling is paramount to prevent accidents that could result in shattered glass and spilled fat on the floor.

Food Grade Buckets

If your goal is to store substantial quantities of beef fat over a prolonged duration, opting for plastic buckets is the most suitable choice. Plastic buckets serve as airtight receptacles that offer minimal direct sunlight exposure. Furthermore, in terms of cost-effectiveness, plastic buckets provide the best value per pound for storing beef fat.

However, it’s important to acknowledge certain limitations of using plastic buckets. They may not provide the same level of protection against heat exposure as offered by glass jars. If you opt for plastic buckets as your preferred packaging method, it’s advisable to take precautions. Particularly in warmer climates, consider storing the plastic bucket in a cool and dark environment to mitigate the potential impact of heat on the stored beef fat.

Plastic Containers

It’s advisable to steer clear of using plastic containers for food storage. This advice is based on the fact that plastic is especially susceptible to the negative impact of air, sunlight, and heat exposure.

On the positive side, tallow stored in plastic jars is generally more affordable. Plastic containers are often priced lower compared to their glass counterparts. If you’re aiming to establish a budget-friendly emergency pantry, opting for tallow in a plastic container could offer a more economical solution.

Vacuum Sealed Bags

Opting for vacuum-sealed bags is an excellent choice for tallow storage. These bags not only guarantee an airtight seal but also assist in removing excess air, effectively preventing oxidation and extending the shelf life of your tallow. Crafted from robust materials capable of enduring freezing conditions, these bags are tailor-made for extended storage. Moreover, they offer a range of sizes, enabling convenient portioning of your tallow.

Where to Store Beef Tallow

Storing tallow is straightforward due to its shelf stability as a cooking fat. You have several options for storing tallow:

Pantry – Tallow stored at room temperature can last up to 12 months.

Refrigerator – Refrigerated tallow maintains its quality for 12 to 18 months.

Freezer – Tallow can be safely stored in the freezer for over 24 months.

How to know if the Beef Tallow has gone Bad?

Detecting spoiled cooking oils and fats involves observing clear signs that are easily recognizable. The focus should be on assessing the appearance, scent, and taste of the beef tallow, as these factors serve as reliable indicators of potential rancidity.

Begin by examining the tallow’s appearance, looking for any visible discoloration, which often serves as a noticeable sign of rancidity.

If the tallow passes the visual assessment, proceed to evaluate its scent. Normally, tallow emits a fragrance reminiscent of smoked beef or jerky. However, a rancid cooking fat will have a sour or soapy odor. If such odors are detected, there’s no need to proceed with a taste test; disposal is recommended.

Lastly, if the tallow has cleared the sight and smell tests, you can sample it for spoilage. A small taste will suffice to determine if the tallow is still palatable. Spoiled tallow is characterized by an undesirable flavor, and its rancidity will be evident upon tasting.

By this point, you should have a clear indication of the tallow’s edibility. If there’s any doubt about its freshness, it’s advisable to discard the cooking fat promptly to avoid potential complications. Consuming rancid tallow might result in stomach discomfort and lacks nutritional value.

Key Takeaways

Opting for grass-fed beef tallow is a wise choice for those seeking a healthful, long-term cooking fat for their pantry. At room temperature in the pantry, tallow maintains its freshness for up to 12 months without succumbing to rancidity. Moreover, refrigeration extends its life to 12-18 months, while freezing can preserve it for over 2 years.

For preppers, having beef tallow on hand in the pantry is advantageous due to its versatile applications both within and beyond the culinary realm. In a scenario where access to everyday necessities is limited, tallow can serve as a moisturizer, lip balm, rash reliever, and even be harnessed for crafting soap and candles.