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Celebrating Good Fats! Lets Make Lard!

June 15, 2014

It’s about time the fat myth got busted.

Wall Street Journal Article

Time Magazine Article

Now since all these fabulous sources say it’s true, now we can believe modern medicine… Right? Well, animal fats have never been bad for you, regardless of what Time and the WSJ tell you. But now since it is “officially” busted, it’s time to return to those once forgotten, good-tasting fats. Let’s celebrate with making LARD!

What is Lard?

Lard is what you get from pig back fat once it is rendered by cooking it down to excrete the fat into a liquid form. Once it cools it returns back to it’s solid form.

The first thing you need is pig back fat. You can get this at your local butcher shop or if you order a pig from a farmer you can request it from the butcher to be put in a sack for later use. You can freeze the back fat and then unfreeze it and render it.

This is back fat from a pig we butchered ourselves. It's not as pretty as it would be if you got it directly from your butcher.
This is back fat from a pig we butchered ourselves. It’s not as pretty as it would be if you got it directly from your butcher.
The next step is cutting the lard up into tiny pieces. The smaller the better (even smaller than this if you can).
The next step is cutting the lard up into tiny pieces. The smaller the better (even smaller than this if you can). Your hands will hurt by the time your done.
Load all the little back fat pieces into the slow cooker and tun on "low." You can also do it on the stove-top on a low setting as long as you watch it carefully.
Load all the little back fat pieces into the slow cooker and tun on “low.” You can also do it on the stove-top on a low setting as long as you watch it carefully.
After a couple hours your back fat will start to render and it'll become very greasy. Stir often and don't let it burn! Once it's burned it'll ruin the whole batch of lard.
After a couple hours (3-4 hours) your back fat will start to render and it’ll become very greasy. Stir often and don’t let it burn! Once it’s burned it’ll ruin the whole batch of lard.
Once your back fat has let out more fat then remaining back fat then it's time to strain it
Once your back fat has let out more fat then remaining back fat then it’s time to strain it
What you will have remaining is cracklings. You can try to render them down even further, but I find it just ends up with burned lard.
What you will have remaining is cracklings. You can try to render them down even further, but I find it just ends up with burned lard.
Ta-Da! Lard! This is what the lard looks like after it's settled and hardened. We just keep our lard right next to our stove and use it for cooking!
Ta-Da! Lard! This is what the lard looks like after it’s settled and hardened. We just keep our lard right next to our stove and use it for cooking!

Lard is extremely good for cooking at high temperatures and deep frying. Get rid of the Crisco for the good of your health and replace it with high quality animal fat!

Tips:

  • Put the slow cooker outside! Lard can have an unappealing smell when it’s rendering, not to mention during the summer it makes your house really hot, so put it out on the porch and let it cook out there.
  • I normally pour the rendered lard into a bread pan. After it cools in the refrigerator I run hot water over the back until the lard falls out and cut it into smaller squares. I then wrap it in cling wrap and put it in the freezer. It keeps in the freezer almost indefinitely, which is where I keep it when I’m storing it.
  • Burned lard is not appealing at all, so make sure it doesn’t burn when rendering.
  • Be prepared to get greasy, lard making is not a clean activity.
  • We leave the lard that we are currently using for cooking on the countertop for all cooking purposes. If lard is rendered properly it should not spoil at room temperature. It usually takes us 1-2 weeks for us to go through one of our small blocks of lard for everyday cooking.
  • (Back Fat Lard) It’s great for frying your morning eggs, greasing pans, deep frying, and roasting things.
  • (Leaf Lard) Perfect for pastry cooking, it’s what people used before nasty Crisco was invented.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Liz,
    What is the general time frame for this? 1 hour 10 hours?
    In your photos, how much fat did you start with and how much lard did it produce? (Estimated)
    thx!

    1. Depends on if you have it on high or on low. If you put it on high you need to keep an eye on it, so it doesn’t get burned, but it’ll only take 3-4 hours. On low it can take up to 6-8 hours. If I’m going to be around I’ll put it on high, but if I plan on leaving for a while, I’ll put it on low.

  2. I did it! The 15.5 pounds of back fat filled two crockpots (5 qt and 6 qt). Even though I had the pots on high heat, I hadn’t left enough time the first day to complete the process. I simply unplugged them, let them cool (I was gone from the house for several hours), refrigerated them overnight, and started cooking again in the morning. Still, it took many hours for me to finish the whole process. It yielded about 7 qt of lard.

    My girls told me about crackling (they learned about it from Little House in the Big Woods). Following instructions I found online I put the leftover solids on two rimmed cookie sheets and baked them at 375 for 20 minutes. There was a significant amount more lard removed in this process, so I’m glad I’d used RIMMED cookie sheets. I wish I had removed the solids right away after taking them out of the oven for they quickly soaked up the lard again. They are still crispy, though, and filled a 32 oz and a 48 oz container. The instructions I read recommended them as crunchy snacks that can also be used on salads, veggies, baked potatoes, etc. Just don’t expect the salty taste of bacon bits and they’ll be yummy. Sometimes a little something crispy is just what a dish needs.

    I still can’t believe this city girl rendered her own lard. I’ve been cooking with it. All’s been well! Thanks, Liz, for the tip!

  3. Update: Donuts are wonderful when deep fried in lard. (Try Pioneer Woman’s recipe for donuts, except – use lard to fry.) Amazingly, almost NO lard is missing from the deep fryer when we’ve finish making more than 2 dozen donuts!

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