How to render lard

Ah, lard.

Oh the pies, fried chicken, and lovely smelling soap you can make. I am a fan.

Real, fresh lard can be a bit hard to come by, so I prefer to render my own with fat from sources I know and trust.

I had a couple pounds of pig fat in my freezer that some family friends had given me, and I finally got around to getting it rendered into lard the other day. It’s kind of a smelly job, but pretty easy.

I think I had a little over 2 pounds total here.

LardLard

First, you need to chop it into small cubes.

Try to keep the size fairly consistent, so that it will melt evenly.

Personally, I find it easiest to slice it into strips with a knife, then use kitchen shears to cut the strips into cubes. Once you have it all cubed, place it in a pot, and cook it on medium/medium low. With my electric stove, I put it just below medium, but with gas, you would need to put it lower.

Lard

Stir it occasionally, and keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t start smoking. Smoke means you have too much heat!

This is about 15 minutes into cooking.

Definitely turn your stove vent on high. This doesn’t smell amazing by any standard.

Rendering Lard

After about 30 minutes, the cubes will be significantly smaller and beginning to brown, and the melted lard will be bubbling up a lot.

Rendering lard

When it is completely rendered, the cubes should be a deep gold/brown color, and all be floating on the top.

Rendering lard

At this point, remove the lard from the heat, and set up your straining system. You can use a basic strainer, or cheesecloth. I prefer cheesecloth, but I was completely out, so I just used a strainer this time. I also used a canning funnel to help it into my jars without making a huge mess. *Highly recommended!*

Ladle the VERY HOT lard and the floating pieces into the strainer. Once the majority of the liquid drains out, press the pieces (These are technically referred to as “cracklings”.) to get any remaining liquid out of them as well. Repeat until all the lard has been strained.

Some people eat the cracklings, or use them to flavor cornbread, but I am not a huge fan, so they are being slowly fed to the dogs this week.

Rendering lard

I was able to get a quart and a half of rendered lard from the two pounds of pig fat. Here it is still VERY HOT and in liquid form. (I totally forgot, and scorched my hand by grabbing one of the jars at this point.)

Rendered lard

Here they are the next day, when they are cool and set up. My kitchen is a bit on the warm side, so they are not totally hard.

Rendered Lard

So, there you go. Not too complicated, or labor intensive!

 

 

This post has been shared at the From the Farm Hop, Freedom Fridays, and Old Fashioned Fridays.

  
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4 responses to “How to render lard”

  1. Dawn Jones says:

    I did this many years ago. It smelled up the house and my husband told me it was grounds for divorce. LOL It is much less expensive than buying lard and most you purchase contains preservative.

    • Angi says:

      It is a bit smelly, Dawn. 🙂 But if I turn my stove vent on high, the smell is gone as soon as the lard goes into the jars!

  2. Joybee says:

    What are your thought on using bacon grease. I always pour off my bacon grease into a bowl and keep it around for flavoring things (like the good southern girl I am) We cook a pretty good bit of bacon and when the bowl gets full I usually throw it away but I’ve seen some talk about ‘cleaning’ the grease and saving it as lard for cooking or soap. I gently boiled my leftover grease with some water and let it cool to harden then pour out the water and leftover bacon bits (from underneath). I did this a few times and now my fat is pretty white when solid (it still smells a little like bacon when warm). I’ll probably keep it to use as lard and maybe try soap sometime. This ‘lard’ isn’t quite as solid as butter when cold from the fridge but it’s just a little softer…I’ve never used real lard so I’m not sure how it compares.

    • Angi says:

      Joybee- I actually use my bacon grease all the time! I use it as-is for sauteing vegetables and frying eggs. Essentially, once you boil it and remove the bacon pieces like you did, you are left with lard. The only difference is that it will contain a little salt/sugar from being preserved as bacon. (nitrates and nitrites will also be in it if you buy generic bacon) I buy bacon that is cured with salt and sugar only, and keep the leftover grease in a jar at room temperature for cooking. However, I only use it on things that I WANT a little bacon flavor added to. Bring on the eggs, green beans, and squash! I have also used “cleaned up” cooking grease for soap making! It works like a charm!

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