I’ve stubmled upon a couple of blog posts and recipes that asked for lard. Now I know that in the US you can actually buy buckets of lard in the grocery stores. In Holland you don’t find that. I’m pretty sure you can ask a butcher for some rendered lard, but I figured, having a food blog and all, that rendering my own lard would be more fun and better even.

While browsing along, I’ve found that all the recent fat/grease related studies speak fondly about animal fats. Trans fats are bad for you, is the newest craze, and trans fats are found most in hydrogenated oils and fats. Lard is not hydrogenated, it’s just melted. So apparently lard is healthy now. To be honest, I didn’t do it for the health benefits. Every study, every year tells us different things about fats. It’s all fine. I just like my food to taste good. So I want to try out lard.

Browsing through several sites and articles about lard, I’ve learnt not only about the health benefits, but also that you can ‘stop’ the rendering process at several stages, which will give you a product that’s different in taste and purpose. If you buy your lard pre-made, you don’t know how far it’s gone, because every method and stage will still give you the hardened, white, crisco like end-product.

So I rendered my own, and stopped before the cracklings were completely crispy and hard. An in-between stage from the very clear, water-colored neutral fat and the darker, more nutty fat. It was quite the lengthy process, though it didn’t take much work. I went from a heap of cut-up pig fat, to a mushy, weird colored substance with gobbly chunks of fat, to a big layer of grease with some small little hardened pieces that just needed filtering out.

To filter, I chose the ‘coffee filter method’, which worked, though I’d probably prefer the ‘cheesecloth over a strainer’ method next time.

I bought a small (1 liter) glass bowl with lid, specifically for the lard. Glass, for the neutral taste and to prevent melting (who knows) and chemicals possibly leaking into the lard over time.

The end product was a beautiful, white layer of fat, ready to cook with. It looks beautiful and I can’t wait to make some cookies, biscuits, tortillas or pastry with it. Or to fry my chicken in it.

I will definitely render more, as soon as I’m (almost) out of this batch. I might even add a time-lapse movie that time (provided that I’ve moved to the new house by then.)

[print_this]So how do you do it, you might ask…

  • pig fat (lard), preferably from around the kidney area (leaf lard) or from the back
    (you’ll need to ask a good butcher for the lard to render)
  • some water
  • a big cast iron pan

Cut up the lard in smallish chunks. Place it in a big cast iron pan and add a little water to get everything started. Put it on a medium-high fire. As soon as it starts to boil a little, turn the heat way down. (I used the smallest  burner on the lowest heat.) The water has now mixed with the fat and has gotten all mucky looking. Don’t worry, the water will evaporate and with that the mucky-ness.
Keep the fat on the low heat, stirring once in a while. If you have the feeling it’s still starting to boil/simmer too much, put a simmer mat/heat diffuser under your pan.

Once most of the fat has melted turn off the heat. Let it cool a little and then pour the fat into a bowl. Use a strainer lined with cheesecloth or a coffee filter to keep the fat ‘clean’.
Let the strained fat cool down a little more, then move to the refrigerator. It will completely solidify and turn white. Use for anything that requires shortening!

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20 Responses to Rendering lard

  1. Kelly says:

    Interesting post. Supposing I used fat from other parts of the pig would it still be worth it. Seems like a fun little project and resourceful to say the least.

    • Valerie says:

      I’m sure fat from other parts would work as well. Apparently the leaf lard is the part that if rendered doesn’t leave a meaty taste to the grease, so that’s why it’s preferred. But if you’d use it for frying or savory dishes, I bet any kind of pork fat would work.
      And yes it is fun! (and cheaper than buying good quality grease as well!)

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