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: Processing Pork Part One, Part Two, Three.) So I put all the fat in the freezer, and rendered it down at my leisure. This is the way to go, I’m tellin’ ya.
I’m not going to make a big deal out of how to render lard. Folks, it is simple.
Apart from the pieces of fat, you will need:
-a big stockpot
-a big spoon
Then when you’re finished with rendering, you will need:
-a slotted spoon
-canning quart jars
-canning funnel (or any kitchen funnel)
-metal mesh strainer
How to Render Lard
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!
It may take an hour or two, depending on how much fat you are rendering down. The only thing left in your pot should be nearly clear oil, and crispy brown pieces of meat.
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. It is delicious!
After I got the cracklins out with a slotted spoon and set them aside on a paper towel, I gathered a few quart jars. I ladled the hot grease into the jars, using a mesh metal strainer on top of my canning funnel. There are tiny bits of cracklin that need to be strained out, so a metal strainer is a necessity.
The jars will seal, and from experience, the lard will be shelf stable for a long time. However, since it is an oil, it is not considered safe on the shelf for consumption. I will use the shelf lard for soap.
But you could definitely cook with it, too. I will store my cooking lard in the fridge. Just to be on the safe side.
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.
I have heard of people rendering lard in the crockpot. I haven’t tried that myself, but it sounds even easier!
If you wanted to attempt to render a whole bunch down in a huge iron pot outside over an open fire, that would be awesome, too!
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 the stuff out!
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