The New Home Economics

Rendering lard

5 Comments

I finally tried rendering my own lard.  I may never do it again.  The smell was absolutely revolting. (Caveat: my stomach was also a little off that weekend, because I was also cleaning projectile vomit off every surface of the bathroom.  Anneke had a stomach bug.)

Let’s see how this all went down.

I used the crockpot method, as outlined in the wonderful Simple Green Frugal blog. The fat came from my brother-in-law, who buys whole butchered pigs from a farmer in NW Minnesota.  I think he throws the fat in for free.  It sat in his freezer for a few months, then in mine for several weeks.  We thawed it completely before starting.  HOLY COW was that a big bag.  I had to go through the whole process twice.

Here I am ladling the melted fat and cracklings into my cheesecloth-covered canning funnel.  I froze all the leftover cracklings and have no clue what to do with them.  They smelled so disgusting I couldn’t bring myself to try one.

Lard chilling out in the snow on the deck.

And the final product.  As you can see, it is not the pure white I was expecting.  The “porky” taste is also much stronger than I anticipated.  With my first batch, I thought it was because I didn’t cook it long enough, so I let the second batch cook longer, but with the same result.

I’m confused, because the lard we bought from the co-op was pure white, only smelled slightly porky, and gave no porky flavor to anything we baked with it.  I’m going to venture a guess here:  it’s possible that the stuff from the co-op, which was a little on the expensive side, was pure leaf lard, whereas the fat I used was maybe fatback or caul fat.  The only reason I guess that is because of the sheer amount of fat that was in the bag.  It was over ten pounds.

So, readers, do you think that’s it?  It’s not like the lard is unuseable, it’s just that you have to, uh, develop a taste for it I guess?

The kids sure didn’t seem to notice the ever-so-slight pork flavor in the crust of this otherwise-delicious pumpkin pie.  I think it’s me.  I have an oversensitive palate for this sort of thing.  Perhaps because I was raised on margarine.

SO, if you live in the Minneapolis area and have a hankering to try a half-pint of lard, I have several extra.  As well as a TON of frozen cracklings.  I’m sure you’ll all be knocking down my door, right?

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5 thoughts on “Rendering lard

  1. reading your wikipedia link, could the difference be rendering process? Looks like you dry-rendered and might be that the co-op stuff was wet-rendered.

  2. Jen-can you tell me how you would use this stuff? Is this to use in place of butter in cooking? What are the benefits of this versus butter?

  3. This is probably moot by now, but I thought I’d give you some feedback. I’ve done a few batches of lard with different methods (crock pot, oven, stove) and I’ve found the the purest, whitest, least-porky lard is pulled off first. The longer the fat renders, the more yellow and “porky” it gets. So, I now do mine in the oven or on the stove top and I tend it occasionally over the first twelve hours. I go ahead and pull off the melted fat into wide-mouth pint jars in the first hour or two, and label that “pastry lard” and that’s what I use for baked goods, pie crusts, etc, where I don’t want the pork flavor. As it cooks longer and more fat is rendered, it gets stronger in color and flavor. I label that “cooking lard” and use it for frying, sauteeing, savory biscuit-making, etc where I want a stronger flavor. As with most things I cook in large batches, I’m totally done with the flavor by the time it’s spent a day rendering in my kitchen, so I store it in the freezer until I want to use it 🙂 It keeps almost indefinitely there if poured into sanitized jars and left unopened. It will keep for months in the fridge, and a few weeks on the counter.

    • Becky, wow, I really ought to do an updated lard rendering post. We’ve done several more batches since this first one, and we’ve now got it down to a science. First, we make sure we’re getting really great fat–I think this batch was all back fat. Secondly, yeah, I don’t let it go all the way until the cracklins are crispy. I agree that the earlier stuff is better. We also keep ours in 1/2 pint jars in the freezer, and we don’t need to render it more than once per year. What we’ve settled on is doing it outside on a cool day (obviously not during the winter). We just set the crock pot out on the deck and let it go. Then I don’t have to deal with the smell, which honestly still revolts me. Our last two batches have turned out great, pure white and not terribly porky at all.

      I really do think the smell factor is really just me though, because my kids think it smells delicious and would eat themselves sick on pork cracklins if we let them eat as much as they want.

      Thanks for reading! Nice to be reminded that I have made some progress since 2011. 🙂

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