Thursday, December 19, 2013

How to render lard - a picture tutorial

Remember our three piggies?  They turned into over 700 pounds HANGING weight meat, which is now waiting in our and the neighbors' freezers to be transformed into delicious meals.  I baked bread yesterday, fried up some bacon, and served it with home made pickles, sauerkraut and my own cheddar goat cheese.  A little glass of good red wine, and we were in heaven.

We also ended up with seven pounds of pig blubber (that's from ONE pig).  I decided to try my hand at rendering lard, which sounds complicated but is pretty easy if you have a crock pot.

Lard is amazing.  Compared to olive oil, lard is a close second in the monounsaturated fat department.  The main fat in lard (oleic acid) is a fatty acid associated with decreased risk of depression and heart disease, as well as anti-cancer benefits.  Lard is packed with Vitamin D, which people are extremely deficient in here in the cloudy Pacific Northwest.  Lard decreases LDLs, thus lowering "bad" cholesterol.  Its smoke point is high, making it perfect for frying and baking super flaky pie crusts. Bring it on!

Here is how you render lard:

First, take the pig fat out of the freezer and cut it in small pieces.  You can also grind it if you have a meat grinder.  If we had cut the pieces smaller, we would have ended up with a little more lard, and with a little drier cracklings.

Yes, I was a little bit grossed out handling this piggie blubber.

We cut up six pounds of fat and froze the rest.  That's all our crock pot could hold.  Six pounds took eight hours to render and yielded almost three quarts of lard.

Then we added 1/2 cup of water in the bottom of the crock pot, which helps prevent the fat from burning in the first stage of heating.  It will all evaporate eventually.

I turned my crock pot on high for the first hour, with the top on, watching the whole operation very closely, stirring frequently.  You don't want the lard to burn, otherwise it will look brown and taste bad.

Just keep an eye on it, stir it every now and then, and turn your crockpot on low if it gets too hot.  It really depends on the type of crock pot you have.  Of course, you could also do this on the stove top, but I would be worried about it burning that way.
The fat pieces will slowly start to melt and look a little bit gross unappetizing.

Six pounds of fat in the crock pot.
Not very pretty, right?
After a while, when there is enough liquid fat in the pot, strain it off.  I used a colander with cheese cloth over it, so any small pieces of meat would be caught in the cheese cloth.  I just spooned the liquid stuff in the colander with a ladle, then transferred the liquid into mason jars.  At first, the lard looks like amber, but when it cools, it turns white.

Towards the end, things will be cooked down pretty good.  When all or most of the fat is gone, you can take the pieces of leftovers, called cracklings, and put them in a 375 degree oven for half an hour, stirring it half way through.  This is delicious stuff that you can snack on, put on salads or green beens, or use it to teach your dog tricks.

You now have beautiful, hopefully snow white lard to cook and bake with!
Some people make laundry soap with it.  But I really don't want to waste my precious lard on laundry soap!

In the background, you see the lard at different stages of cooling.  Cracklings tempt in the fore ground.

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  1. Nice Corina!! I can't wait to have some of our own lard to render in a few months :) I've done this with cow fat that I got from the store but the funny thing is I haven't used it yet because I know it's just fat from feed lot animals. Very exciting Corina! Are you guys happy with the flavor of the meet and the quality of the butcher?

    1. Jenni,
      we LOVE the flavor of our pasture fed, whey fed pigs. The butcher did an AMAZING job. Totally professional, totally fast, totally safe. I can tell you more one of these days, but I really recommend them! Andall's is the outfit.

  2. So, does everything end up with a hint of pork flavor if you use home made pork lard?

    1. Robin, no, totally not. It tastes neutral to me. You might want to use the lard you render in the beginning of the process for things you want to taste neutral, and the lard you render later in the process of frying things, since the stuff you render later might have a little pig flavor if it gets burnt.

  3. Wow that is lovely white lard, yum! Thanks for the step by step photos :)

  4. I love that I came across this article! I've been dying to have lard since my Nana passed away! I can now enjoy the goodness of it all over again!

    Mama Prepper

    1. Rebecca, so sorry that your Nana passed away. I hope that rendering your own lard and cooking/baking with it will bring back all the sweet memories with her.

  5. How should it be stored? Room temp okay like Tenderflake? What is the shelf life?

    1. I store it in the fridge. Some people don't bother to refrigerate it, but I do. As long as it doesn't smell bad, you're fine.


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