A long time ago during hog slaughtering day, the lard (fat) was usually cut off and set into a big iron pot. Since it was cold enough, they left the fat to freeze overnight, and then cut it into egg-sized pieces the next day. Then, it was cooked over the fire in that iron pot all day, or until it was all rendered out.
I personally didn’t have time to do all the lard the day after Hog Day, (see some stories here: Processing Pork Part One, Part Two, Three.) So I put all the fat in the freezer, and rendered it down at my leisure.
I’m not going to make a big deal out of how to render lard. Folks, it is simple.
Here’s what you do:
Put all the fat pieces into a soup pot. (Just make sure the pot is big enough.)
Turn on the stove eye.
Stir the pot of lard every so often, so the pieces do not burn.
The fat will melt, and the grease will be very very hot!
You have successfully rendered lard.
The big chunks of crispy-ness left in the pot? Those are called cracklins, and they are pretty yummy! I saved my cracklins for cracklin bread.
After I got the cracklins out with a slotted spoon and set them aside, I got a few quart jars, and ladled the hot grease into the jars, using a mesh strainer on top of my canning funnel. There are tiny bits of cracklin that need to be strained out.
The jars will seal, and from experience, the lard will be shelf stable for a long time.
I mainly use the lard for soap. But you could definitely cook with it, too.
As for my cracklins, I broke them up into smaller bits, and stored them in baggies in 1 cup portions. Perfect for Cracklin Bread! I store them in the fridge.
Pretty simple and straightforward! If you don’t slaughter your own hogs and you are interested in rendering lard, check with the butcher shop! They usually just throw it out!