World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0001093656
Reproduction Date:

Title: Schmaltz  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Jewish cuisine, Chicken fat, Animal fat, List of Jewish cuisine dishes, Suet
Collection: Animal Fat Products, Austrian Cuisine, Cooking Fats, German Cuisine, Jewish Cuisine, Polish Cuisine, Spreads (Food)
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Schmaltz derived from geese
Type Spread, cooking fat
Main ingredients Fat (chicken or goose)
Cookbook: Schmaltz 
Schmaltz (Chicken)
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 3,767 kJ (900 kcal)
0 g
99.8 g
Saturated 30 g
Monounsaturated 45 g
Polyunsaturated 21 g
0 g
Other constituents
Cholesterol 85 mg
Vitamin E 2.7 mg
Selenium 0.2 mg

Fat percentage can vary.
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Schmaltz (also spelled schmalz or shmalz) is rendered (clarified) chicken or goose fat used for frying or as a spread on bread in Central European cuisine, and in the United States, particularly identified with Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine.

The English term "schmaltz" is derived from Yiddish, and is cognate with the German term Schmalz, meaning "rendered animal fat", regardless of source—both tallow and lard are considered forms of Schmalz in German, as is clarified butter. English usage tends to follow Yiddish, where it means poultry fat.[1][2][3]


  • Etymology 1
  • History 2
  • Process 3
  • Uses 4
  • Vegetarian schmaltz 5
  • Derived meanings 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
  • Further reading 9


The term "schmaltz" entered English usage through Yiddish-speaking Ashkenazi Jews who used it to refer to kosher poultry fat; the word שמאַלץ shmalts is the Yiddish word for rendered chicken fat.[4] The word is common to the High German languages, including both Yiddish and modern Standard German, and comes from Middle High German smalz,[5] a noun derived from the verb smelzen, meaning "to melt". The verb can be traced back to the Germanic root "smeltan", which survives in the Modern English verb "to smelt".


Schmaltz rendered from a chicken or goose was used by northwestern and eastern European Jews who were forbidden by kashrut (Jewish dietary laws) from frying their meats in butter or lard, the common forms of cooking fat in Europe, as butter, being derived from milk, cannot be used with meat under the Jewish prohibition on mixing meat and dairy, and lard is derived from pork, an unkosher meat. Furthermore, tallow derived from beef or mutton would have been uneconomical, particularly given that virtually all suet (the raw material for tallow) is chelev and its consumption is forbidden. Northwestern and Eastern European Jews also could not obtain the kinds of vegetable-derived cooking oils such as olive oil and sesame oil, used in the Middle East and around the Mediterranean (as in Spain and Italy).[6][7][8] Thus Ashkenazi Jews turned to poultry fat as their cooking fat of choice; the overfeeding of geese to produce more fat per bird produced modern Europe's first foie gras as a side effect.[6]


The manufacture of schmaltz involves cutting the fatty tissues of a bird (chicken or goose) into small pieces, melting the fat, and collecting the drippings. Schmaltz may be prepared by a dry process where the pieces are cooked under low heat and stirred, gradually yielding their fat. A wet process also exists whereby the fat is melted by direct steam injection. The rendered schmaltz is then filtered and clarified.

Homemade Jewish-style schmaltz is made by cutting chicken or goose fat into small pieces and melting in a pan over low-to-moderate heat, generally with onions. After the majority of the fat has been extracted, the melted fat is strained through a cheesecloth into a storage container. The remaining dark brown, crispy bits of skin and onion are known in Yiddish as gribenes. Another simple method is as a by-product of the making of chicken soup. After the chicken is simmered in the pot or crock-pot, the broth is chilled so the fat rises to the top and can be skimmed off, at once providing schmaltz to set aside for other uses and a lower-fat soup, which is brought back to heat before serving.


Schmaltz often has a strong aroma, and therefore is often used for hearty recipes such as stews or roasts. It is also used as a bread spread, where it is sometimes also salted, and generally this is done on whole-grain breads or black breads which have a strong flavor of their own. It can be used in such salads as egg salad and chicken salad as mayonnaise is used, as a fatty addition to such recipes as latkes (potato pancakes) or kugel, or instead of butter when pan-frying potatoes, onions, or other foods.

Vegetarian schmaltz

Various vegetarian (and consequently pareve) versions of schmaltz have been marketed, starting with Nyafat (U.S., Rokeach and Sons, 1924), which is largely coconut oil with some onion flavoring and color. Vegetable shortening is also used as a substitute.[9]

Derived meanings

  • The expression "falling into the schmaltz pot" refers to the concept of having something good happen to you, often by sheer luck (e.g., being born into a rich family). Someone who happens to have good luck is given the reputation of being a schmalz. Consequently, a derived Polish word szmal is a colloquial term for cash, especially in larger amounts.
  • Schmaltz herring means fatty herring and refers to the a stage of development in the life cycle of the herring when the fish contains the most fat.
  • In American English, via Yiddish, schmaltz (adj. schmaltzy) has also an informal meaning of "excessively sentimental or florid music or art" or "maudlin sentimentality", similar to one of the uses of the words "corn" or "corny." Its earliest usage in this sense dates to the mid-1930s.[10][11] In German, schmalzig is also used in the same sense.
  • Schmaltz and Schmalz are common last names amongst Ashkenazi Jewish and non-Jewish people of German and Austrian descent.[12] Schmaltz was used as a metonymic occupational name for a chandler.[13]

See also

  • Clarified butter, sometimes referred to as “butter schmaltz.”
  • Shmaltz herring, herring caught just before spawning, when the fat (schmaltz) in the fish is at a maximum.


  1. ^ List of English words of Yiddish origin See entry schmaltz in this list
  2. ^ Foster, John (15 November 2012). Writing Skills for Public Relations. Kogan Page.  
  3. ^ Ruhlman, Michael; Ruhlman, Donna (13 August 2013). The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat. Little, Brown and Company.  
  4. ^ , 11th ed."The Merriam-Webster Dictionary". Retrieved 9 January 2007. 
  5. ^ , 4th ed., 2000"American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language". Archived from the original on 12 February 2007. Retrieved 25 January 2007. 
  6. ^ a b Ginor, Michael A. (20 August 1999). Foie Gras: A Passion. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 9.  
  7. ^ Alford, Katherine (1 October 2001). Caviar, Truffles, and Foie Gras: Recipes for Divine Indulgence. Chronicle Books. p. 36.  
  8. ^ Lavine, Eileen (1 December 2013). "Foie Gras: The Indelicate Delicacy". Moment Magazine. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  9. ^ "Parev Products Co. v. Rokeach & Sons (36 F.Supp. 686)". 29 January 1941. Retrieved 4 July 2015. 
  10. ^ Webb, H. Brook (1 October 1937). "The Slang of Jazz". American Speech 12 (3): 179–184. 
  11. ^ Steig, J.A. (17 April 1937). "Profiles: Alligators’ Idol". The New Yorker 12 (3): 27–31. 
  12. ^ Dictionary of American Family Names. Oxford University Press. 2003.  
  13. ^ "The Schmalz Surname at". Retrieved 2010-08-14. 

Further reading

  • Michael Ruhlman, Donna Turner Ruhlman, The Book of Schmaltz: Lovesong to a Forgotten Fat, ISBN 978-031-625-408-3, 2013-08-13
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.