If you would have asked me about lard, 10 years ago, I probably would have thought you were a little kooky. Now here I am, not only rendering lard from our own pasture raised hog, but shouting it to the world! Animal fats have gotten a bad rap in the recent past, but they are proving to be much healthier than the heavily processed products, like margarine, that we’ve been told to replace them with. Lard has no trans-fats and is full of the fat soluble vitamin Vitamin D (which is great for your immune system) and contains monounsaturated fat that helps to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol.
Lard is surprisingly easy to make. Let me show you!
This is how the fat came to us from the butcher, yes, they did spell our name wrong, who can blame ’em! It was ground, wrapped in plastic, then butcher paper and came frozen, like the rest of our meat. Having the fat ground makes the heating process go much faster.
I have seen recipes online that use a crock pot to render lard. I had 3 packages of fat, about 7 lbs each, and wanted to do it all in one go so I used our electric roaster. As you can see here, I just flopped the chunks of ground fat in and waited. To make the process go a bit faster, and so that you don’ t have to fiddle with the temperature as much as I did, cut your fat into a few pieces.
Once the fat started melting and got to the point you see above, I had gotten the roaster to about 175 degrees. This was just right to melt the fat but avoid really cooking it, making for an odorless, colorless lard. Once the fat starts melting, you can start scooping out the clear liquid.
I poured this liquid into quart canning jars, straining through cheesecloth over my metal screen strainer. The lard will look a bit yellowish in it’s liquid form but will lighten up as it hardens.
The solids that are left over after making lard are called ‘cracklins’ and are supposed to be great on salads or anything you’d use bacon bits for. I turned the heat up to about 250 in the roaster, once the liquid had been removed to brown up the cracklins. They taste like ground pork to me, but you could certainly season them if you want to fry them up and keep them. We kept about 1/4 of what was left. The rest went to the laying hens that enjoy and need a bit of good quality fat and protein this time of year.
21 pounds of hog fat ended up making just over 8 quarts of snow white lard! In the photo above, you can see the difference in color as the lard cools. The jars on the left are almost completely solid and the last jar on the right was still hot. Now, to find a great biscuit recipe!