How To Render Lard:The Right Way
How to Make Lard
Lard is a popular cooking fat that is rich in vitamin D, monounsaturated fatty acids, and beneficial saturated fatty acids.Rendering your own lard is a great way to make this fat even healthier. The process can be completed with either an oven, slow cooker, or stove.
Makes about 1 pint (500 ml) or more
1 lb (450 g) pork fat, or more
1/4 cup (60 ml) water
Preparing the Lard
Purchase high quality pork fat.If you want to make the lard as healthy and beneficial as possible, you should purchase pork fat from a local farmer instead of a grocery store butcher.
- You can usually find a local farmer who raises pigs by asking around at your nearest farmer's market.
- You can also try small "family run" butchers or specialty markets.
Select the right cut of fat.There are three main types of pork fat, and each type produces lard that is best used for different purposes.
- Back fat, also called fatback, comes from the back, shoulder, and rump of the pig and is located directly beneath the skin. It works well for sauteing and frying.
- Belly fat is rich and layered with meat. Bacon is actually cured pork belly. Rendered belly fat can also become lard used for frying, however.
- Leaf lard is fat located around the pig's kidneys. It is the cleanest fat and is the most suitable if you want to make lard used for pastries and baked goods.
Cut the fat into small cubes.Use a very sharp knife to cut the fat into 1-inch (2.5-cm) strips. Cut across the strips crosswise to produce 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes.
- The pieces should be at least this small. The smaller they are, the easier it will be to render lard from them.
- Cut away as much meat and skin from the fat as you dice it, as well.
- Also note that it will be easiest to cut the fat if it has been chilled or partially frozen beforehand.
Consider grinding the fat down further.To produce even more rendered lard, put the cubes of fat through a meat grinder and grind them down into even smaller pieces.
- Alternatively, you could put the lard cubes into a food processor and slightly pulse them into shreds. Use no more than a handful at a time, however, since you could wear the motor out if you stress it with too much.
- You could skip the cutting and grinding process completely by asking the farmer or butcher to grind the fat down before you take it home.
Rendering the Lard
Preheat an oven to 225 degrees Fahrenheit (107 degrees Celsius).The oven needs to be set to a low temperature to prevent the fat from burning as it renders.
Pour a little water into a Dutch oven.Fill the pot with about 1/4 inch (0.625 cm) of cool to warm water.
- The water prevents the fat from browning too quickly at the start of the process. As the fat continues to cook, the water will evaporate, so it should not affect the quality of your lard.
- Use a cast iron Dutch oven for best results. If you do not have one, another deep, oven-safe pot would also suffice.
Add the fat.Place the chopped or ground fat in the pot. Spread the pieces out evenly to ensure even rendering.
Place in the hot oven for several hours.Stir the fat every 20 to 30 minutes or so. Remove the pot from the oven once the chunks stop giving off fat.
- This process will usually take at least two hours. That amount of time will increase depending on the size of your pot and the amount of fat you choose to render.
- It will likely be obvious once the fat has been rendered off. If you think the chunks look the same way they did 40 to 60 minutes earlier, you've probably gotten as much fat from them as possible.
Slow Cooker Method
Add a little water to a slow cooker.Pour the water directly into the bottom of the slow cooker, using 1/4 cup (60 ml) for every 4 qt (4 L) capacity or so.
- The water prevents the fat from burning as it melts down. Since it will evaporate out, the water will not damage the quality of the lard.
Place the fat inside.Lay the pieces of pork fat inside the slow cooker, arranging them in even layers.
- You'll need more than one layer, but the layers should still be even so that the pork fat renders evenly.
Set the slow cooker to low.Place the lid on the slow cooker and set the machine to low. Let it run for a full hour without opening it
Stir and continue rendering until done.After an hour, remove the lid and stir the fat. Continue rendering the fat with the lid off until done.
- After the first hour, you should check on the fat every 20 to 30 minutes to make sure that it is not burning. Stir each time you check it.
- You may wish to ladle out some of the liquid fat throughout the process. Doing so can make it easier for the rest of the solid fat to melt down.
- The fat is ready once the cracklings (crisp residue) begin sinking to the bottom of the slow cooker. These cracklings should still be soft, however, and not crispy.
- The entire process will usually take two to eight hours, depending on the size of your slow cooker and the amount of fat being rendered.
Place the fat in a large stockpot.Arrange the pieces of pork fat in a large stockpot, keeping them in even layers.
- The more even your layers are, the easier it will be to render the fat at an even pace and prevent any from burning.
Add a little water.Pour roughly 1/4 cup (60 ml) of water over the fat inside the stockpot.
- You only need a little water. The water can help prevent the fat from burning during the initial stages, and it will evaporate from the stockpot as the fat continues to heat up.
Cover and heat over low.Cover the stockpot and place it on a stove burner set to low heat. Allow the fat to render for about 30 minutes without disturbing it.
- The fat will only begin to partially melt during this time. The solid chunks will look more translucent, and some liquid will start to come off.
Heat on medium, stirring often, until done.Remove the lid and give the fat a good stir. Increase the heat to medium, then continue rendering the fat for another hour or so.
- Keep a close eye on the fat to make sure that it does not burn.
- You may want to remove and strain some of the rendered fat as it melts down. Doing so can help the rest of the fat melt down quicker.
- The fat should be ready once the leftover cracklings start sinking and becoming crispy.
Storing and Using the Lard
Let the lard cool.Remove the lard from the heat source and allow it to cool to a lukewarm temperature.
- It is very important that you wait until the lard has a chance to cool slightly before pouring it into glass jars. Hot lard can cause the glass to weaken, crack, or break.
Remove any remaining chunks.Ladle the rendered fat through a fine-mesh sieve to remove any solid pieces, leaving you with nothing but liquid lard.
- Alternatively, pour the fat through a paper coffee filter wedged inside of a cone or funnel, or through a piece of cheesecloth draped inside a colander.
- You can pour the lard into a separate bowl or directly into your intended storage containers.
Pour the lard into jars.Transfer the filtered lard into glass jars, then tightly twist a lid onto each jar.
- If the jars feel warm to the touch, let them sit out on your counter for another few hours until the sides feel cool. The idea is to make the temperature change as subtle as possible to prevent that glass from becoming damaged.
Refrigerate the lard.You should store the lard in your refrigerator, keeping it there for as long as one month. In a cooled state, lard is soft but solid.
- If you want to store the lard for as long as one year, place the jar of lard in your freezer, instead.
Use as you would use any other solid cooking fat.You can use lard in the same way you would use butter or shortening.
- If you want to use the lard in a recipe that usually calls for oil, you will need to melt it down into a liquid form.
QuestionMine has stayed in liquid form after being refrigerated. Ideas as to why it did not become solid?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerThe only possible answer I can think of is not a high enough fat content. I'd try again this time using leaf fat from around the kidneys.Thanks!
- You can enjoy the cracklings, as well. Let them cook in your oven, slow cooker, or stockpot for 10 to 30 minutes, or until they become brown and crispy. You can eat them plain or sprinkle them over salads and other vegetable dishes.
- Rendered pork fat has a very distinctive smell. Some people find it overwhelming, so if you tend to be sensitive regarding odors, you might want to use an outdoor propane oven or a slow cooker set up in your garage.
Things You'll Need
Meat grinder or food processor
Dutch oven, slow cooker, or large stockpot
Glass jars with lids
Fine mesh sieve, coffee filters, and/or cheesecloth
Refrigerator or freezer
Sources and Citations
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