In our society, most of us view fat as the enemy. But in a survival situation, fat could save your life. I was blown away the first time I learned about the many uses for animal fat. I had no idea that this stuff was used for so many everyday items. But the uses are plentiful and the way that you are able to get your hands on this valuable commodity is not all that difficult.
Any hunter will tell you that every part of an animals has its own intrinsic value. The meat is great for eating and the skins can be used for warmth as well. The bones can make healthy nourishing broths. But what about the fat? If you happen to kill a big animal, such as a bear, what are you going to do with all that fat? It would be a shame to just throw it away. You could use the fat to make candles, soaps, skin creams, food flavoring, and even fire starter. The uses are really only limited by your mind. But before you can use the animal fat, you have to learn to render it properly.
Rendering is the process of removing the water from the fat. Since fat is made mostly of water this can be a very tricky process. You need to make sure that you are not overcooking the fat but you also want to make sure that you are adding enough heat. The process to render can be done dry, semi-wet, or wet. Animal fat will turn rancid very quickly if it has not been rendered. So if you are looking to keep the fat for any amount of time, you need to learn the process.
To begin, cut the fat into small pieces and then place them in a pan or skillet over low heat. You are not trying to cook the fat but just remove the water. You want the heat warm enough to melt the fat but not hot enough to cook it. Fat from larger game animals such as bear or deer or even elk might need to be grated in order to speed up the process. These fats are much harder and they will take days to melt if you simply cut them into pieces.
Once the fat has been rendered and you have successfully separated the liquids from the solids, you can then take the liquids and add other spices or flavors to them. Some people like to add garlic and others like a variety of spices. The Jewish people like to add onions to their chicken fat and they end up with a product called schmaltz. This is a very tasty chicken fat that can be added to soups and other dishes. I have been told it is out of this world delicious although I haven’t tried it for myself yet.
If you are making a savory dish, such as a chicken pie or a beef pot pie, you might be interested in adding a more full flavor fat such as beef. Try to match the fat with the meat you are using.
Solid fats are always a good option for baking. They make crusts crispier and they just make the overall flavor better. Try using your rendered fat with a new pastry dessert. Just make sure that you are using a milder flavor fat. Wild game fat will tend to make the flavor of the pastry somewhat odd. If you are making meat pies then this is not an issue but if you are making an apple turnover you might not like the subtle elk flavor.
Survival Super Food
Animal fat is the base of a survival super food called Pemmican that has been around for ages. It has 3 ingredients and it keeps for a crazy amount of time. It comes from a Native American recipe and it typically has deer fat, lean meat jerky, and nuts. The concept is to combine all three ingredients and just mash them together. Allow them sit and harden up or stiffen, then enjoy. This food can be carried easily and it stores easily. It keeps for a long time and it can be enough nourishment to keep you alive in a serious SHTF crisis.
Other Ways to Use Animal Fat
If you are interested in deep-frying then why not try using the fat you just rendered? For frying, you need to avoid fats with low smoking temperatures. Avoid deep frying in bacon grease or even butter. Instead you are going to want to shoot for tallow (beef fat) or even lard (hog fat).
Making candles is also an option. If you use a harder fat such as bear fat, you can make candles that will last for a long time and work really well. If candles are not up your alley then you could always try skin creams. I would be willing to bet that after a few days or weeks of dry itchy skin even the most burly of men would long for some skin cream or lotion and nothing gives you softer skin than products made with authentic animal fat.
Fat is also an incredible waterproofing material. Not all fats are the same here. They will all repel water and they all waterproof to a certain extent. However harder fats have the best waterproofing abilities. I have heard several people talk highly about bear fat for waterproofing.
Ultimately, animal fat is not the enemy. In fact, it can be a prepper’s best friend. What are some creative ways that you use animal fat around your homestead?