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Rendering Lard

August 31, 2009
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Lard has been villainized for decades, but fats such as coconut oil, butter, and lard and tallow from pastured animals are actually much healthier than hydrogenated oils (trans fats).  I never cook with hydrogenated oils or eat them in our home.

I was able to procure some local lard that needed to be rendered.  At $2/lb, it was even reasonably priced.  Rendering the lard was an easy task, but it was time consuming.  If you google, “how to render lard” many sites come up and some recommend the stove top method, others the crock pot method and still others swear by the oven method.  Since I’m not a huge fan of crock pot things and I like to keep an eye on what’s going on, I chose the stove top method.  Rendering lard requires long and slow heating to evaporate the moisture from the fat and fully melt the fat from the tissue.

I started out with approximately two pounds of lard and ended up with 19 ounces of finished lard.

2 pounds raw lard

2 pounds raw lard

Place a few cups of  finely chopped lard pieces with 1/2 cup of water into a heavy bottomed pan (I used my enameled cast iron Dutch oven), on very low heat.  Stir every once in a while.  Every hour or so add a couple more cups of lard and continue stirring.

About halfway through the rendering process

About halfway through the rendering process

Continue to cook on a low heat until the cracklings start to turn golden and get a little crisp.  You don’t want them to get brown, really, because that will make the lard taste a little more “porky”.  The total cooking time from start to the time I strained was probably about five to six hours.

Rendered lard, right before pouring and straining

Rendered lard, right before pouring and straining

Strain the lard through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth, coffee filter or a unbleached paper towel.  Pour it into a container of your choice.  I saw this idea on another blog and decided to use it.  Pour the lard into muffin tins, freeze and then pop out the little lard muffins for easy storage.  This sounds very practical because I can freeze all the little muffins in a bag or container and remove individual ones as I need them and the rest will stay in the freezer, thus lasting longer.  Fresh lard will go rancid, unlike the boxed hydrogenated lards you can find on the shelf at the store.  At this point the lard is yellowish.

Strained lard, in muffin tins

Strained lard, in muffin tins

If you choose to mold the lard in a container, after it is frozen, remove it and place it in your chosen storage container.  If you strained it directly into a storage container, then you are done.  Keep in the fridge for a few weeks or in the freezer for several months.

Finished lard

Finished lard

My finished lard wasn’t as white as some others, but I figure that I may have gotten the cracklings a little too browned.  It tastes fine.  I’ve used it to cook savory dishes so far, but not for baking a sweet item.

Cracklings

Cracklings

Don’t waste the cracklings.  Stick them back in the pot and brown and crisp them.  I’ve heard they are good on salads (kind of like real Bacos, I guess), with greens, in scrambled eggs, and in corn bread.  So far the two little ones have been eating them plain and also in a sandwich with fresh cucumbers and tomatoes.  They raved about them.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. September 2, 2009 7:07 pm

    funny how the circle goes. that’s a heck of a process, sister. my hat’s off to you!

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