q: How does Uruguayan beef tallow differ
from that produced in other countries?
A: Uruguayan beef tallow is different in its fatty acid
composition and physical properties from beef tallow
produced in other countries. Although its palmitic acid
content is similar to other beef tallow (20–27%), its stearic
acid content tends to be higher (25–34%), and its oleic acid
content lower (31–43%) than that found in beef tallow from
other regions. Therefore, its melting point is generally higher
(> 48 oC) than that of other beef tallows. This is probably due
to differences in agricultural and husbandry practices among
the regions. In Uruguay (like Argentina), cattle is usually free
to exercise in the prairies and feed from the pastures.
q: Are there differences in tallow arising
from grass-fed versus grain-fed cattle?
A: Beef from free-range, pasture-fed cattle (like those
produced in Uruguay) has a lower amount of intramuscular
and extramuscular fat than cattle raised in confinement
and with a grain- and hay-based diet. This difference does
not seem to be heavily influenced by the animal breed. For
example, the main breed for meat production in Uruguay is
“Hereford,” while in Argentina it is the “Aberdeen Angus.”
Although diet has a role on fat composition, the variation
within this fat composition is small. There is a slight influence
of grain-based feed (which is very rich on unsaturated fatty
acids) on fat composition. The process of bio-hydrogenation,
which occurs in the animal’s rumen, considerably lowers the
unsaturated fatty acid content of the total fat composition.
q: What are common uses of tallow in
Uruguay and Mercosur?
A: The most common use of beef tallow in Uruguay and
Argentina is found in bakery applications. Although beef
tallow can also be used for fried applications, its applications
in this area have been diminishing due to the use of partially
hydrogenated oils and/ or high-oleic oils. However, beef
tallow is still an essential component for traditional fried
foods such as “tortas fritas.” These are a typical Uruguayan
food comprised of a non-leavened dough that is then most
commonly fried in beef tallow.
In non-food applications, beef tallow is used for biodiesel
production. However, at temperatures that are not too
low (~ 15 oC), beef tallow can start to gel or form crystals.
For this reason, it may be convenient to mix beef tallow with
vegetable oils before methylating for biodesel production.
q: How does the oxidative stability (as
measured by OsI) compare to the most
commonly used frying oils in Uruguay?
A: Due to its high saturated fatty acid content,
beef tallow has a high oxidative stability. Beef tallow’s
induction time for OSI measured at 110 o C can reach up to
38 hours, in comparison to 20 hours for refined, bleached
and deodorized (RBD) high-oleic sunflower oil, which is
commonly used for frying food in Uruguay. However, the
quality of commercially available beef tallow in Uruguay is
quite variable, and depending on the brand some barely
reach 5 hours of induction time (this is comparable to RBD
high-linoleic sunflower oil, which is not stable enough
q: How does beef tallow influence
mouthfeel in bakery applications?
A: The high saturated fatty acid content of beef tallow
imparts a unique thermal behavior to bakery goods. At
body temperature (temperature in the mouth) beef tallow
contains ~30% solids, which is not ideal for all bakery
applications. At this temperature and level of solids, some
solids are not melted in the mouth and could therefore be
perceived as having a waxy mouthfeel. To improve on this
applications, beef tallow can be fractionated by controlled
cooling (process currently in use in Argentina). Fractionating
close to 40 oC, a liquid fraction (olein) can be obtained, and
this fraction can then be used in bakery applications with an