How to render 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.
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.
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.
After about 30 minutes, the cubes will be significantly smaller and beginning to brown, and the melted lard will be bubbling up a lot.
When it is completely rendered, the cubes should be a deep gold/brown color, and all be floating on the top.
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.
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.)
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.
So, there you go. Not too complicated, or labor intensive!