Our pigs were a lovely addition to the farm and we have a 6.5LB bag of organic, raised with love, fat that needs to be put to good use. I have never really used lard for much other than cooking meat and I am honestly not that keen on using it for baking so we decided to make good old fashioned multi-purpose soap for home made laundry and cleaning products.
This is what 6.5 LBS of fat looks like.
Supplies for rendering lard
- Pig fat (trimmed of any excess flesh – should be purely fat)
- a heavy bottomed pot (I used my enameled cast iron)
- wooden spoon
- fine mesh sieve/strainer and cheese cloth (I used my jelly strainer and cheese cloth)
- storage jars/containers (I use mason jars)
- kitchen knife
Rendering the lard
Step 1. Chop it up into bite sized pieces. This will quicken the rendering process. We tried to grind it as suggested in an old article. We have an old hand grinder than came from Ryan’s grandparents farm house. We have used to make hamburger with great success. It turned out to be a terrible idea for fat. Terrible. We ended up chopping it up with my big old chefs knife, and it worked great. Clean up was easy.
Step 2. stick your chopped up fat into a heavy bottomed pot. I used my cast iron/enameled pot, in fact, I ended up using two pots.
Step 3. Low and slow is key. You do not want to burn it. If you burn it, it is still good for cooking but it does not make a nice looking (or smelling) base for soap or baking. I have a gas stove (with fairly low BTU) and simmered this at the lowest setting, stirring quite frequently. It took about three hours to completely render the fat.
Eventually there will be a lot of liquid, and the solid bits will have shrunken down.
You want a nice pale colored liquid, like this.
Step 4. Strain the fat. Use cheese cloth or pantyhose and a fine mesh strainer to separate all the little floaty bits from the liquid. Just keep straining until all the bits are gone. Place all the bits back in your pot to make some pork crackling. If you have not had crackling, you are going to love it (unless you are vegetarian of course).
Step 5. let the liquid cool enough to handle and pour into mason jars. Leave some head space if you plan of freezing some of it. This is what it looks like once it has cooled. Deceptively like butter cream.
If you have pets. Give them a treat. This whole three-four hours process will have tortured them beyond belief. Every moment, every movement, they were watching and waiting for something to fall into their mouths.
Remember waste nothing. And in this case, you get to make something that some people dream about. Bacon lovers beware, this might push you over the edge. This part takes about ten minutes. I didn’t get any good pictures of this part, it got dark outside and our lighting in the house is terrible for photos.
Turn your burner to medium and gently cook the remaining bits that you threw back in the pot earlier. I usually sprinkle it with some salt at this stage as well. The bits want to be nice and brown and crispy looking. Take a slotted spoon and spread the bits out onto paper towel to drain off the excess fat. Let cool and then store in a jar (if they last that long).
Store in fridge and use within 4-5 days or freeze … although crackling never lasts long enough at this house. Crackling is great sprinkled on pizza, or used as bacon bits or as a not so healthy snack.
Now that we have the lard rendered, the next step is making our piggie soap.