Rendering Pork Lard

Lard has a bad reputation, I really wish it didn’t! We are big believers in ‘nose-to-tail’ whole animal butchery, meaning no part of the animal goes to waste just because it may seem ‘gross’ in our society. Pig fat is an amazing resource that can be utilized and cooked down into lard.

Why lard?  It has a high smoke point; it is high in fatty acids; it has zero trans-fats; if it comes from pasture raised pigs, they have spent a lot of time in the sunshine which translates to high levels of Vitamin D {10,000 IU/tbsp}. It also makes the best pie crust- you’ll never have a flakier pie crust than one made with lard. Lard can be used just as you would any other cooking oil for frying, sautéing, baking etc.

I do recommend though that you find a high quality lard source- pastured pigs, humane conditions and untreated. Some commercialized lard can often be hydrogenated, bleached, deodorized and have additives.  Even better, and possibly why you are here, having your own fat to render.  So here we go!

There are three types of fat/lard that you may come across when DIY rendering:

  • Leaf Lard- considered the highest quality, comes from the ‘leaf’ of fat surrounding the kidneys.
  • Fatback- considered next best quality and the largest volume of fat off of a pig, this fat is the hard subcutaneous fat from under the skin.
  • Caul Lard- the fat surrounding the digestive organs.

STEPS TO RENDERING LARD

  1. Trim all leftover meat from the fat, you only want the white fat.  If meat is left on you will end up with lard that has more flavor and color than the sought after ‘snow white’ and odorless lard you are after.
  2. You can use a meat grinder or dice the fat.  I typically start with frozen fat, and frozen does not work well in a grinder so I end up dicing by hand.  Go with your preference. The idea is that you want small pieces of fat- the smaller the piece, the larger the overall surface area, which renders more quickly.IMG_2926
  3. Using a crockpot set on low, add a few tablespoons of water.  The water will burn off but will help prevent any burning of the fat before it has a chance to start melting.
  4. Once your diced fat has been added to the crockpot, cover and let it sit for a couple of hours to render, or melt, the fat into a liquid. IMG_2927
  5. When you begin to see liquid pooling, you can begin to ladle off the liquid lard into a jar.IMG_2933
  6. Using a fine mesh strainer and/or cheesecloth over the opening of a jar, ladle the liquid into a mason jar. Once most of the pooled liquid has been removed from the crockpot, cover and allow to continue to render.  You may do this may times before your fat has become what’s known as cracklings.  **This may take a whole day depending on your volume of fat. When this happens I simply turn off my crockpot overnight and come back to it the next day.IMG_2934

    IMG_3964

    Hot lard, fresh from the crock pot. Let cool on the counter until it becomes a solid white.

  7. When you reach the crackling stage, which is leftover skin, membrane and connective tissue your lard is done rendering. Many people eat the cracklings like you would bacon bits, I usually feed them to my chickens and dog as a little treat.  That is up to you!IMG_2943
  8. Let your lard cool and solidify. Now you are left with a jar, or hopefully many jars, of rendered lard.  I suggest keeping only what you are currently using in the refrigerator and storing any extra in the freezer. It can store indefinitely in the freezer.

    IMG_4033

    Snow white lard, ready to be enjoyed!

  9. Use your freshly rendered lard for cooking eggs, tortillas, biscuits, pie crusts, vegetables and anywhere you would use cooking oil or butter. If you’re looking for a fun way to use it, try my recipe for Whipped Lardo {click here}. Enjoy!IMG_4041

 

Happy cooking friends!

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3 thoughts on “Rendering Pork Lard

  1. Janice de Boer says:

    I have a great recipe for cookies that are made with lard, anise and a few other ingredients. They’re called Bizcochitos and are Spanish cookies. I’ll be happy to provide it if anyone is interested.

    Like

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