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How do I render lard?

Cooling lard turns white, hot lard is golden.

Maybe you have heard that lard is not so bad for you as a matter of fact it might even be healthy! (big surprise)!

So when you get pork (or visit the butcher for fat) you need to make that jump from “pig fat” to useable lard… How do you render lard? This is a great question and there are lots and lots of answers all over the internet. There’s really no “right” way and the only “wrong” way is to burn or scorch the lard resulting in a bad tasting end product.

The simplest technique we use is the crock pot method in the garage. (but the logic can work for stove top oven or microwave rendering too). We really like the crock pot method because by design of the crock pot, it’s not going to overheat the lard and scald it. Even better the crock pot in the garage keeps the rendering smells out of the house. Some people like it, personally, we may move the next rendering batch to the barn!

Basically there are a few simple steps to create this healthy fat for your family.

  1. Chop the lard into chunks (you can grind it too but I like to fish out the big cracklins on the chunks)
  2. Toss it all into the crock pot
  3. Set the crock pot on low - like the 10 hour setting
  4. Come back in 9 hours and reset the crock pot for another 10 hours (if there is still bubbling when you stir things up)Tools of the rendering trade
    1. The bubbling is the water escaping and that’s what rendering is all about - getting the water out of the fat. Keep in mind the amount of fat you are rendering will determine when there’s no water let and when you can start to decant off the golden liquid of yummieness.
  5. When there is little to no bubbling in the crockpot when you stir and submerge the fat chunks that are in there you are ready to start taking some of the golden liquid off (decanting)Looks like it’s ready to decant more liquid gold off as there’s no bubbling
  6. Into a glass container you will ladle the golden liquid through several layers of cheese cloth (be careful - this is HOT oil)Straining the lard through cheesecloth keeps the cracklins out
  7. Cap the jar and place in refrigerator or freezer. (lard likely will keep at room temp like it did in the “olden days” but you might as well take advantage of those electric appliances and keep your lard fresher)Fresh lard that is just starting to cool at the bottom
  8. Allow any remaining chunks to continue to render down and remove additional golden liquid as you can.
  9. After you have gotten all the golden liquid out of the pot hide the golden cracklins from everyone else… they are delicious, crispy and did I already say delicious?

When you are ready to use the lard simple remove as much as you want from the container. It’s that simple!

If you Google up the 363,000 results on rendering lard there’s all sorts of information out there about how to render lard… other tricks and tips that you may find are useful or not. (some people toss a a potato into the oil for a few minutes and then take it out and it’s supposed to make the lard a brighter white, I dunno).

All I can say is - this is how we do it - it’s delicious - it works and it’s simple.


Reader Comments (7)

Do you have any info on canning it so it seals and may be placed on shelf til used? just wondering if i can free up some freezer space....

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterToni Brock

Two questions:
Will any pork fat work? I can't locate any leaf fat locally.
Do you leave the lid on or off? I am guessing off to let the water evaporate.
Great post by the way, thanks for the info.

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom

This was helpful. I guess I did it right on my own but it was good to see the photo of the rendered lard and the bit of color. Anxious to see it when it has solidified.

Appreciated the new info on the type of fat and the so called positives. It makes sense to me.

October 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJane P

@Toni - Sorry, no info at room temp storage because we always have ours in the freezer or fridge. I do know the 2 biggest enemies that make lard go rancid are HEAT and LIGHT. I think you need to avoid those 2 things at all cost!

@Tom - Thanks and yes - top off or at least cracked open. The whole "rendering" process should be called heating and dehydrating really. As for fat types - leaf lard is the stuff right around the kidneys and other organs. We have never asked for that to be separated... I think if you are a world professional pastry chef that might matter - we use all fat from the pig (back fat mainly) to render up the lard.

@Jane - Thanks!

October 9, 2012 | Registered CommenterAndy

When I was rending up large amounts of lamb fat, I'd freeze it first, then grind it, then cook it in a pot with some water. The freezing made it easier to grind, and the grinding shaved a bunch of time off the rendering ... however, crockpot seems like a good "set it and forget it" method.

Whenever we get around to raising hogs I'll give this a go. For lamb fat ... well, let's say that's a smell you want around for as short a time possible!

October 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBig Onion

just made my first batch and immediately made delicious home fries in it. thanks for the great post.

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTom

When we rendered our beef fat from our calf, we boiled outside on an outdoor propane burner (smell was nasty - enough to clog your arteries just by a sniff). We took the golden fat and then continued to boil down all the fat into a white paste (after spooning out chuncks and bits.) Made fantastic wild bird suet, but now I wonder if I didn't give the birds a lot of goodness that we could have enjoyed?

November 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLucinda

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