Tuesday, May 13, 2008

How to render lard

Lard. I have to admit that for most of my life that I’ve been terrified of the stuff. Be it schoolyard taunts that used the word, or the absence of it at both the grocery store and in my childhood home—I believed that it was bad news and something to be avoided.

A few years ago, I embarked on a quest to teach myself how to make flour tortillas. The first recipe I found listed lard as a key ingredient. I was scared at first, but I sought out a pound of it as my love for flour tortillas triumphed over my fear of pig fat. And while that initial foray into flour tortillas proved futile, I did discover that lard isn’t so bad, in fact, often it’s my preferred fat of choice.

People think that cooking with lard will make everything taste of pork, but this is not true; its flavor is neutral. What it does, however, is create incredible texture and structure. With lard, you’ll fry chicken that is both moist and crisp. With lard, you’ll make a tender pie crust that flakes. With lard, you’ll make airy French fries that crunch. With lard, you’ll cook refried beans that caress your mouth like velvet. With lard, you’ll steam tamales that are soft and fluffy. And with lard, you’ll bake ginger cookies that snap.

But the best thing about lard is that it’s not bad for you. It has less saturated fat (the bad fat) than butter, while it also has more than twice as much monosaturated fat (the good fat) than butter. And it has none of those pesky trans fats—that is, if it hasn’t been hydrogenated to prolong its shelf life.

And that, my friends, is the problem. Most lard you find at the grocery store has been hydrogenated to make it shelf stable indefinitely, which robs it of its good qualities. Some butchers will sell freshly rendered lard that has not been hydrogenated (clue: if it’s not refrigerated than it’s not the good kind of lard), but it’s also quite simple to render it yourself.

For years, I heard stories about how difficult and malodorous the lard-rendering process was. My opinion changed, however, after a visit to my grandparents’ farm last August. As we were looking through old family albums, I found a fantastic photo of my great-grandfather standing outside stirring a large cauldron with a long stick. The caption? “Dad rendering lard. Dec. 1940.” It seems that lard was the fat of choice for both my grandparents growing up, and when I looked through some old family recipes, I saw that indeed many of them called for that fat.

When I returned to New York I decided it was time to render my own lard. And after a visit to the Union Square Greenmarket to pick up some pig fat, I was well on my way to being in hog heaven.

If you’ve never rendered lard before, trust me, it’s very, very easy. And the best thing is that when you’re done you can look at your supply of white, luscious fat and have a blast dreaming of the culinary possibilities each jar contains.


How to Render Lard
What you need:
A pound or so of pig fat, either leaf lard or fat back. Leaf lard is the best grade of lard and is preferred for pastry, while fat back is the next-best grade of lard and is appropriate for frying. Each pound of fat will yield about a pint of lard.
A big pot
A lard stick (though a wooden spoon will suffice)
Some water
Some containers—Mason jars work nicely.

What to do:
1. Open your kitchen window.
2. After buying your fat, preferably from a farmer or butcher that treats its hogs humanely, chop it up into little pieces.
3. In a Dutch oven or heavy, large pot, add about a half of a cup of water to the pot, and then add the cubed fat.
4. On the stove, heat the pot on medium low, stirring occasionally (every 10 minutes).
5. After the fat starts melting (about an hour), you’ll hear some very loud pops. Do not be alarmed—that is just the last gasp of air and moisture leaving what will soon become cracklings (little fried pieces of pork). Now is the time to start stirring more often.
6. Soon after, the cracklings will start floating on the surface. Keep stirring frequently, but be careful—you don’t want the fat popping out of the pot and burning you.
7. When the cracklings sink to the bottom, the lard has been rendered.
8. Let it cool, and then pour it into containers through a colander or strainer lined with cheesecloth. The cracklings will be left behind in the cheesecloth and these make for a fine, fine snack, especially sprinkled over salad if that’s not too perverse for you.
9. The lard will be a yellowish liquid. This is what it’s supposed to look like.
10. Refrigerate it overnight and when it solidifies it will turn white. It will keep in the refrigerator for about three months, and the freezer for up to a year.

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107 comments:

Rachel said...

Oh, we have to make this!

AK said...

This is SO interesting! Can you also post your procedure for flour tortillas? I learned long ago, but can't find the recipe I wrote down. As a homesick Texan myself I truly appreciate your blog! Thank you!

Mike said...

Back in the day...our housekeeper would occasionally provide an incredible fried chicken dinner...to this day, (25+ years after the fact), it's the best I've ever had, no question.

I knew it was going to be a "golden" dinner on those days Josephine walked in with a "brick" of lard.

Karina said...

As someone highly allergic to milk proteins, and zero (literally!) to pork, this is good news. Like you, I was always afraid of the l-word. Now I'm intrigued.

christine said...

Oh, Lardy!!! In Singapore, lard is prized above all things crispy. The cracklings, or literally translated from Cantonese, "Pig Fat Fried", is often served as a side dish in little cubes to accompany noodles. They are the crouton's Evil Twin...

Tisha said...

Amen, sister!!!

Leaf lard has done wonders for my pie crusts. I try to explain to people that it really is a necessity, but the word has such unpleasant connotations that it's hard to convert people. Now I'll be forwarding this post.

Bacon Heather said...

I started making my own lard about a year ago, as well. It really is quite easy to do and tastes soooo much better!

tejasjeff said...

It is truly amazing what a bad name lard had gotten over the years. The difference between Flour Damn shame that it is so hard to find that you have to do it yourself.The difference it makes is startling in Skillet fried chicken and tortillas.
I recently found a dairy near here that sells raw unpasteurized Jersey milk and finally had to figure out what to do with all that cream. Few minutes in the food processor and voila -Butter that will blow your mind.
Some things are worh the effort

Anita said...

thank you SO MUCH for this post. We make our own lard (and even sometimes score some kidney fat for making leaf lard, the very best kind for pastry) and I have been meaning to write a post about it.

People (readers and real-world friends alike) always get so freaked out by lard... now I have a place to point them, both for the nutritional lowdown and the how-to, too. :D

Kathy said...

You take me back so many years to the farm I grew up on. We always had a tin can of lard after butchering and Mom's pie crusts and biscuits were unbelievable! And one of my favorite parts of butchering was my first taste of the still warm cracklings that accompanied the meat. They were divine! Thanks for the memories!

Traci Anne said...

Yes, please post fried chicken and flour tortilla recipes! Man, I'm craving some fried chicken from Bush's (in Waco) right about now.

Where at the Greenmarket did you get the lard? About how much was it? I'm going to have to try this out this weekend!

Cat said...

Thank you for reminding me about this. I haven't been able to find lard in the stores for a few years now. I use to make birdseed suet out of it. I then started doing this for the birds and never realized I was rendering fat. Now I need to get some for myself, I didn't realize it kept that well in the fridge.

Hugs!!!

michelle @ TNS said...

i NEED to do this. i have a little jar of bacon fat in the fridge, and it's wonderful, but it does make everything taste bacon-y. for the rare occasion that i don't want to taste bacon, i need the lard.

i can get what i need at the US greenmarket? how did i not know this?

tiny morsels said...

There is a pirate store here in San Francisco, that has a barrel full of lard. It's hard to walk past the barrel and not stick your fingers in it. Tee hee hee, Lard!

AT said...

I can't begin to tell you how much I adore and respect you for writing a whole entry about LARD. God bless ya honey, you're a good Texan. :)

Brave Sir Robin said...

What perfect timing!!

I was just explaining to son #3 yesterday why lard was preferable to shortening or butter for pastry. He is 14 and scours food labels with a fine tooth comb looking for trans-fat. I will have him read this tonight.

And you are so right about the refried beans. Pork fat gives them a creaminess that is just not achievable with any other fat.

Lissa said...

It's such a coincidence that you wrote about lard today. Sunday was making cheese enchiladas with chili gravy for Mom (her request, Robb Walsh's recipe you posted here), and was reading about lard in his Tex-Mex cookbook (again, your recommendation).

He also gives a method for rendering lard in the oven - says it helps you avoid getting burned from spatters. Have you tried this method?

Frantic Home Cook said...

Growing up, our fridge was never without lard. It's how I learned to make biscuits, piecrusts and cornbread.

I've been reading about the same things about lard being healthier than butter and am going to have to allow a bit into my life again. Joy!

Brin said...

I agree with "at"... way to show 'em what us Texans are all about! Until you've had fried chicken soaked in buttermilk and fried in lard, you haven't had fried chicken...

(And if it ever stops raining in East Texas I'll be harvesting some early crookneck squash and giving it the old lard fry, too!)

A big Texas hello,
Brin

Ginny in Fort Worth said...

Thanks for this post. I haven't been able to figure out when lard became such an evil thing--people would eat butter, but not lard, which made no sense. My grandmother in East Texas had a big iron wash pot where she rendered lard and made wonderful cracklins. Also thanks for saying that about looking for pork raised (and killed) humanely. The ghastliness of our live stock "farming" methods these days is sinful. Even in this town, I was able to find humanely raised pork, but I had to search online.

Lee said...

T O R T I L L A   C H I P S
fried in lard are unbelievably good!

@lissa: funny, I made tex-mex cheese enchiladas last night with 1/2 butter 1/2 olive oil, wishing I had lard instead.

Homesick Texan said...

Rachel--You'll love it!

AK--You can read about my flour tortilla adventures here.

Mike--No question indeed--it makes the best fried chicken ever!

Karina--Yep, and it's not bad for you either. Spread a little lardo on bread with some salt--mmmmm!

Christine--Noodles and cracklings? What a combination! I wonder how they'd taste on top of macaroni and cheese?

Tisha--People just don't understand, but I find if you don't tell them how you made it they'll agree it's the best pie crust they've ever had.

Bacon Heather--With a name like Bacon Heather I would be sorely disappointed if you didn't render your own lard!

TejasJeff--It is a shame it's difficult to find the good lard. And I'll have to try your butter technique.

Anita--You're welcome! And it's funny but kidney fat is in greater supply at the US Greenmarket than back fat. Not that I'm complaing.

Kathy--Yes! My grandma still has those old lard cans in the attic. I want one!

Traci Anne--You can read about flour tortillas here and fried chicken here. And I bought my fat from the Flying Pigs Farm--they're there on Saturdays.

Cat--Yep, keeps for a few months and even longer in the freezer.

Michelle @ TNS--I keep a jar of bacon fat in the fridge too, but you're right, sometimes you just need the texture and not the flavor. Pork fast is the best!

Tiny Morsels--A barrel full of lard at a pirate store? I'll have to go there next time I'm in SF.

AT--Awwww, thanks! I try.

Brave Sir Robin--Glad to help. And I can't even bear to eat beans without pork fat and sadly so many places don't use it today for "health" reasons.

Lissa--I don't remember what he recommends, but most methods for rendering lard in the oven still insist you stir it often, which means you're always opening the oven. That seems silly so I'm happy with the stovetop method--if you pot is tall enough you won't have a problem.

Frantic Home Cook--It's interesting how our great-grandparents knew best.

Brin--A big Texas howdy right back at ya! And now that I have some fresh lard, looks I need to make some fried chicken this weekend!

Ginny in Fort Worth--It costs more, but it's worth it. Happy animals not only taste better but your also supporting people to treat them the right way.

Lee-- Why have I never fried tortilla chips in lard before? Duh! I'm doing that tonight!

Annie K. Nodes said...

Lisa, you are my hero. And probably Homer Simpson's too. I'm so blown away by your adventurous cooking streak.

We are moving to a place with a windowed kitchen this summer. I will take this recipe with me!

Kristin (The Pearl Onion) said...

Wow, I never thought I'd crave lard but you succeeded in making me want to do this. Do you keep the pot covered in between stirs or does the popping not splatter?

I bet the Greenmarket guy this weekend will be wondering why he sells out of fat so quickly as I am sure all your NY readers will be running there!

sarose said...

I bought some lard when I was home (San Antonio) in March and have been wanting to try Robb's chili gravy using it...have you done so and did it make a difference? For some reason I just can't get the right color or consistency using oil or crisco....I'm hoping lard will do the trick! I've been defending lard for years...but have had such a hard time finding it! I'm needing a cheese enchilada fix REAL bad:-)

On the Border, By the Sea said...

Thanks, Lisa, for bringing fine memories back to life of my childhood in East Texas in the fantastic 1950s. My Dad butchered a hog every spring. He fried the cracklings in a big black cauldron under towering pines in our back yard.

The smell, the taste and the crunch of those little darlings hot and crisp from the oil was divine eating! Yes, my best pie crust recipe is made with true lard! Great post!

Debra said...

The very best biscuits are made with lard, and cracklin's are soooo good in cornbread.

Thanks for the info. I'd been avoiding the stuff. Time to pull out the White Lily for biscuits. :)

Michelle said...

This is very interesting.
I'm new here, and and found several recipes I'm going to try. One of them was a recipe I've been trying to find for over two weeks. Thanks!

Cynthia said...

This post is one of the many reasons I LOVE your blog.

Nicole said...

Lisa, I'm so glad you wrote this post! I've been reading for the last couple of years that lard is finally crawling out from under it's bad rap. As usual, it's not the original product that is terrible, it's the processing that makes it a killer. My grandparents used lard too, and I've always known that lard is best for pie crusts and deep frying. But the problem has been that most readily available lard has been hydrogenated and the natural stuff is hard to find and expensive! I've been thinking about rendering it myself ever since reading the article but haven't actually tried it yet. This post was just the push I needed to actually seek out a decent butcher and go pick up some pig fat! Thanks!!

class factotum said...

I have never rendered lard, but I always keep the bacon drippings (as did my mother and grandmother before me). The flavor is not neutral. It is fabulous. I use it any time I have to fry something savory or for making roux.

Greg said...

To be honest, I wouldn't use anything but lard for so many tasty things.

I also don't care if the fat in it is good, bad or indifferent. Lard is a great natural product.

I'm tired, tired, tired of all the crap the food police keep dishing up to us.

I'm headed for the full fat aisle in the grocery store - if I can find it amongst all the cardboard food the the fanatics would have us believe is good for us.

Great blog - I'm a fan in a New York minute.

Lisa said...

Lisa, this is wonderful, and I have a horrible confession to make: I recently saw some other posts about rendering lard, and found out what a good fat it is, and so I decided I was gonna do it. I asked my local "meat guy" (the farmer I buy my meat and chickens from) if he could get some for me. Sure, he says, they'd probably just throw the fat away otherwise. Yay! says I. Well, he brought it—all TEN POUNDS of it. It was beautiful, and I was completely overwhelmed. It was a busy weekend, and it hardly even fit in my fridge (would never have fit in the freezer). After a couple of days I realized it was a fiasco, and I threw the fat out. How sad. Unfortunately for me, my farmer's processor will only sell ten pounds at a time. But I can check with the local meat market; maybe they'd be able to sell me a manageable amount. Thanks for the good instructions. I'm just dying to try making tamales with (good) lard.

Olivia said...

This is incredible - an animal fat that is healthy!

I know I haven't had it fresh - my neighbour used to make beautiful Mexican food with the canned stuff, which scared us at the time. So it's comforting to know the fresh is healthier.

Not that I'd ever make my own, mind you! But I can at least now share this knowledge with my friends.

Chef JP said...

Excellent post. While lard is no longer a politically correct foodstuff, I think it's a vital link to American heritage cooking. Bravo!

Donna Kay said...

I love your recipes - I have been lurking for a whilel now - I'm in Louisiana - so I get to eat pretty good!!!
Thanks for a great blog!!!
Donna

Janna said...

Homesick Texan- I just nominated you on my blog for the E for Excellence Award.

ntsc The Art of The Pig said...

I don't render it myself, but the butcher I visit twice a year, Dietrick's Meats, sells lard in pints and quarts.

Mike said...

http://www.dallasnews.com/lifestyles/food/


Interesting story

Lyra said...

Lard is sold at my farmers' market. I may pick some up-these days in Belize most people use hydrogenated vegetable shortening which is probably worse for you.

White On Rice Couple said...

Every time I get some fat back, I end up using it to make a liver pate. Nothing is left for the lard that I have been wanting to make. Next time I'll make sure to reserve some of the fat for this recipe. Thanks for the reminder!! :)

Yvo said...

Wow, that sounds amazingly easy and having cracklings at the end sounds like a good motivator ;)

Just a question, I know you listed a bunch of things to make with lard, but umm... are there any for a person who doesn't bake and ... well... yeah, more every day uses? Thanks :)

Homesick Texan said...

Annie K. Nodes--Congrats on getting a kitchen window--makes all the difference in the world!

Kristin--Nope, I leave the pot uncovered (it's a tall pot, however).

Sarose--It's definitely better with lard. Very smooth with a silky texture.

On the Border, By The Sea--Yes, I love hearing the stories about people's hog butchering days. Hopefully I can attend one sometime!

Debra--No need to avoid it! And I'll have to put my cracklings in my cornbread next time--nice!

Michelle--Welcome! I'm glad you found some stuff you'd been looking for!

Cynthia--Aww, thank you, dear!

Nicole--Yep, it's all about the bad processing. Can't wait to hear about your adventures with lard!

Class Factotum--It is fabulous! I use that all the time as well!

Greg--I love it "The full-fat aisle!" That's hard to find these days!

Lisa--See if you have some friends who also want to render some lard--10 pounds is a lot unless you have a huge group of people to feed and/or a huge freezer.

Olivia--Oh come on, you should try making it yourself. It's fun!

Chef JP--It's definitely not politically correct, but I'm hoping to help change that perception.

Donna Kay--Thanks! And you do have some good eats in Louisiana--my second-favorite food state after Texas, of course.

Janna--Cool! Thank you so much for the nomination!

The Art of the Pig--If you don't render it yourself that's always your best bet--getting it from a butcher you trust.

Mike--Thanks for the link.

Lyra--Yeah, I haven't heard anything good about hydrogenated vegetable shortening.

White on Rice Couple--Definitely reserve some, though I'm now craving that liver pate.

Yvo--It's good for frying or replacing any oil in a sauce, such as a Tex-Mex chili gravy. It's also good for browning meats.

Sra Scherzophrenic said...

I work at a bakery in Lancaster County PA, and was able, through our bakery to get my hands on 2 lbs. of leaf lard, which I will be rendering this morning.

Sra. Scherzophrenic said...

Which I did! It took about seven hours, and I think, if I do this again, I will do much of it in the oven. Definitely open the windows. I was able to get the leaf lard from the bakery at 1.20 a lb. and I saw it online for over 8 a lb. rendered. I don't know how much I have right now in rendered lard. But it keeps well in the refrigerator. Also, Walmarts and other stores which may cater to the needs of large hispanic populations sells manteca tins. I use one for bacon drippings, but I will use one for my lard, too.

Jay Francis said...

Lard making is one of those activities that helps justify the purchase of a little Sunpentown induction burner, so that you can do your rendering outside. I do mine in a nice cast iron pot, the same one that I use to bake my "no-knead" bread.

patslist said...

Happy birthday!! Can taste the strawberries...and the BBQ is not far behind...Enjoy your blog! Pat J.

Greg said...

We won an entire butchered hog 8-9 months ago and I haven't had a clue re: what to do with the fresh (now frozen) pork side.

Sunday morning I rendered lard from it and made refried black beans to go with the huevos con machaca.

I'll get the evil eye if I try to do it without lard next time...

Anonymous said...

tomorrow is the day. i have cut up 25 pounds of back fat and leaf lard. i can't wait to make some italian pepper bread like i used to enjoy when my best friend jimmy was alive.

chi manga bene viva bene!

thank you for your wonderful website that guided me to where i am.

barbqdude (transplanted ny/texan)

The Wealthy Blogger said...

Mmmm.. wonderful post! I've tried several ways to render lard, including just in the oven on a low heat in a large roasting pan.

Also in a cast iron dutch oven on the stove top. Just like Jay Francis above, same dutch oven that I make my "no knead" bread in as well.

I usually buy a butchered pig every year for the freezer.. but the last time, I guess the butcher forgot to include the lard... was I some upset! He probably kept and sold the leaf lard to a baker.

T said...

i don't think i've ever seen pig fat so glamourized!! this is great! it's making me want to make my own lard!! i suppose this could be done using beef fat as well, if you want to avoid pork lard? not for pie shells necessarily, but frying and seasoning cast iron. do you think? what would you buy at the butcher shop if you want to make your own beef lard (or whatevs it's called)?

Anonymous said...

I followed the directions on this and other sites about "how to render lard" but my final product is sort of brownish and not the pure white, thick as it should be. What did I do wrong? I cooked it until most but not all of the cracklings sunk. Maybe I cooked it too long?

Anonymous said...

what about making lard from beef fat?
is leaf fat the fat around the kidneys, ie the suet?
thanks for the information!

Lauren Schneider said...

When I picked up this fall's 1/2 of a pasture-raised pig, my farmers gave me all the back fat I wanted for free. Seems like no other customers wanted theirs. Can you imagine?!?!?!?!?!

Working at home on a snowy day – what better time for rendering lard? I can smell it already.

Elsie said...

How long does it take to render lard? I'm getting a side of pork (Yorkshire) next month and expect I will get all the lard from it. I don't know how much that will be, but I do plan to render it all. Should I do this outside?

Homesick Texan said...

It takes about an hour and a half. You don't have to do it outside if you have good ventilation in your kitchen. I personally don't find it smells bad, but I think some people do.

Anonymous said...

I got my hands on about 10 lbs of leaf lard and 10 lbs of fat back. I don't have specific plans for my lard, I just want to mess around with all the recipes I've been putting off trying. Should I render it all together? Or is it a waste of the leaf lard? Should I keep it separate?

I'm so psyched!

Homesick Texan said...

Anon--If you plan on making pasty, I'd render them separately.

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's me again with the leaf lard and back fat. I did my first rendering of just back fat to see how it works. First, in my kitchen with poor ventilation it does have a distinct smell, so I opened the kitchen window and some doors, and the smell left pretty fast. Second, next time I would chop up the fat even finer. I think the finer it is, the faster the rendering (and therefore less smell). It took a LONG time for the cracklings to sink. Third, 10 pounds of back fat will give you about 6 or 7 pounds of lard! That's a lot. Think 6 or 7 boxes of butter...So I'm doing it in smaller batches to keep it fresher. Since I also have 10 lbs of leaf lard which has less waste than back fat, I'll be rolling in lard for a long time. I'll be making pate this weekend. Thanks, Texan!

Allie said...

Holy crud! And to think I've never refridgerated my lard...it just sits next to the stove like my great-grandmother's, grandmother's, mother's, mine and probably my kid's.

Jennifer said...

I'm a homesick Texan, too. What a great blog name!

Currently in a discussion with a group of friends about the superior qualities of lard, and one pointed out that store-bought'll kill ya. LOL Probably. So, off to cultivate yet another heirloom kitchen skill (like milling flour, baking bread, cooking, etc). I appreciate the detailed (but not overwhelming) description of how to render, and your photography is yummy as well.

I heartily recommend the book Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

Thanks for the great post!

Laura said...

I've always loved what lard does for my pie crust, but the stuff I got from the supermarket seemed... lacking.

This is VERY exciting.

Anonymous said...

I was so happy to have access for this viable information. I was so disgusted having realized that all my married life, I was going in the wrong direction with margarine, veg.oils, and the vegetable lard copy cats. I tried to buy lard but when I got it home, I found that it too, was not good due to the hydrogenated added to it. Thanks so much
Anita Williams

Anonymous said...

Love your lard! I weep for you, here in the UK lard is in the refrigerator (that's the good stuff, hasn't been hydrogenated to let it live on a shelf) at most supermarkets, and it is dirt cheap as it has a bad reputation here too. I use it 50:50 with butter for shortcrust pastry (pie crust) and now I am going to use it for roast potatoes as my mother used to (got to say goose fat is fantastic for potatoes) and frying. Mmmm, crispy!

I am so glad people are finding out about fats and realising that saturated fats are not bad, and that polyunsaturated vegetable oils are bad in excess.

Will be trying some of your Texan recipes!

Kind Regards, Anne Smith, Warwickshire UK

chemcookit said...

Hi Lysa,
Thanks for this post! My boyfriend and I recently tried to render both pig and beef fat. I have a post on it on my blog, with a link to yours, if you want to give a look at it. I really like your blog!

JLL said...

I just tried your recipe, and it turned out pretty good. I did it without a cheesecloth, though, which may not have been a great idea. Next time, then. Thanks for a great tip!

Anonymous said...

My aunt always said to make a batch of brownies when rendering lard. She said the brownies helps to counter the smell of the fat rendering down :) Happy melting!

ann said...

I'm rendering my first batch of lard right now, from the fat from our locally raised pig. I think it smells somewhere in between roast chicken and bacon frying, not bad at all. My in-laws now render their own chicken lard. It is so fun to be against the grain, esp. when we can get this stuff cheap!

polkamatic said...

Homesick Okie in London trying this out now! Wish me luck!

Jacqueline Churchq said...

Thanks for this post! I'm thrilled that my lard is chilling in the fridge. Thrilled. We'll have the best pies ever this Thanksgiving. Thanks for your help. We'll raise a glass. (and I'll post on it and link back here, too!)

Anonymous said...

If you are lucky enough to have a grill with a side burner, by all means do this outside. To my nose anyway, it does have an off-putting odor that can linger in the house. Once you've used it, though, you'll see it's well worth it. I render 3 or 4 pounds at once, and freeze it. If you get your fatback down south, be sure and rinse it. It often comes crusted in salt.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the nutritional info in this blog. One of our family recipes calls for lard. Always assumed that they were a little less than good for us. Now I know the difference.

Anonymous said...

I'm rendering as we speak (I type). Personally don't think it smells bad. I have about 20-25 lbs. I'm working on, I like doing things in big quanties. This is my first time doing this, can't wait to try some homemade cooking with the lard. In the near future, hoping to make a batch of goat milk soap from this batch of lard,\
Mine renderings are about the color of a weak tea, hope this is right as not all the cracklings sunk but I was afraid to burn it(had on a low flame too).
PS...Yummy, the cracklings are good.

Flea said...

oh my word. a friend sent me this link so I could learn to render lard. What fun!

candace said...

My dh and I just finished rendering our first batch of lard. We did 2 lbs. at once and used a large stainless stockpot with a heavy bottom. We cooked it on low-med low. The cracklings never really sunk, but it all started to smoke and the rendered fat turned brown. We're still waiting for it to cool enough to put in the fridge, but we're wondering it we cooked it too long and it burnt. What did we do wrong? Thanks for your help. We have 2 more lbs. to render and we want to make sure we do it right.

Brandi said...

Just rendered 3 pounds today. I had it on low heat (figuring I should err on the side of caution) and it took about 5 hours. I had the whole day set aside though, so it was all good. Can't wait to make pork chops and eggs for breakfast tomorrow using it!!!
Thanks for the tutorial!!

I Believe I Can Fry said...

I'm planning to render about 3 lbs tomorrow; when I first saw this post, I couldn't find fatback ANYWHERE (and this is ALABAMA). I ended up picking up some "Salt Pork Fatback", but still wasn't sure if it was suitable for rendering. However, I hit a local grocery store on my way home from work (not the store I usually shop at), and they had true fatback for sale. I can't wait to render some lard (not only do I cook with it, but I season all of my cast iron with it!). Thanks for the great tutorial!!

Hans Keer said...

The only disadvantage of lard is that it is rather high in omega 6. 100 grams contain 10 grams of n-6.

Charlotte said...

Saturated fat is not bad fat. That is absolutely wrong. Natural saturated fat is not only healthy, it's NECESSARY. That lard has less saturated fat is not what makes it healthy, which I agree that it is. As for the user's comment that lard is too high in omega 6, that depends entirely on what the pigs are fed.

Butter is not bad for you because of its saturated fat, saturated fat is healthy. The only reason grocery store butter is bad for you is because the cows are not grass finished and often have antibiotics and hormones in them. Grass fed butter is best.

Rosemary said...

I am rendering pork fat back in my two large stock pots right now. I am so glad I found this post. I had planned on using all of it for suet for our 9 laying hens, but now I'm going to take a couple quarts off of the top for in home use! I just moved to upstate NY from Chicago (husband works at SUNY) and I am a homesick Chicagoian, and loves me the great Maexican food over there!

Joy said...

I moved from the USA to India and when you buy pork here they cut it right off the animal with a think layer of fat. They give you the fat and I decided to try to use it. I was thrilled to turn it into lard since I was wanting to make biscuits.When I followed the recipe I found that the bits did not sink and while waiting for them to sink I ended up burning them. The lard is still usable for cooking and my puppy went crazy over the few bits of burned fatback. Thanks for the great recipe and I am going to try your carnitas next since I so miss Mexican food over here. I am blogging about my new home at www.goodtimesgoa.com if you want to read about Goa India.

luna said...

I was so glad to find this post. I bought share of a good, clean, organic pig this year. The farmer suggested I take the fat back and leaf lard. Raved like all the rest of you do.'well, ok, i'll try it,' I said with reservations. Now i'm so glad i did. Getting read to do it tomorrow. Thanks for your clear write-up. I must say, i'm looking forward to trying this. And feeling pretty good about using all the animal.

Rebecca said...

I was wondering if a #8 cast iron skillet would be to shallow for such a project? I'ts 80 years old, was stripped down and I want to both season and make lard. I have a pound of back fat from our local farmer (grass fed!) Please let me know what you think. thanks!
moderndomestication@gmail.com
Great post!!

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Rebecca--I think that would be too shallow, I'd go for something with higher sides. You can always season the pan after you render the lard, though.

frugalfood09 said...

I have used a crockpot to render lard. I try to use it outside since it does not smell all that great, but you can fit alot in a crockpot and it is a no mess no frill way. Our butcher gives the fat away so there is no cost to it. I have never done the stove top or oven method, but I have used the crock pot and then strain it through a coffee filter.

Leigh Anne said...

After you use the lard to fry something in it, can you strain the lard and re-use?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Leigh Ann--I've never done that, but I believe it can be done.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time I have tried rendering lard and making crackings. It is so awesome. We just bought a half of pig and it tastes like pork used to. Can't wait for the bacon and ham.

Laura (sandytoz) said...

Thanks for the simple tutorial!
Just procured myself ten pounds of pork fat from the local butcher (they have 3 hogs ready to go) at 30 cents a pound. Friday will be the day I get it & render it.
Pork fat rules!!

Anonymous said...

I am rendering my first batch of leaf lard right now! Very excited about the outcome. Question: What is the papery substance on the underside of the leaf lard? I saw nothing about this in the blogs I've been reading, including this one, and was afraid to incorporate it into the mix. Also, my knife didn't cut through it very well. Any ideas/suggestions?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--I have no idea! Ask your butcher, I've never seen that before. Good luck with the rest of the rendering.

ColeBee said...

Thanks for this. I have some amazing heirloom pork fatback that needs rendering.

Anonymous said...

This brings back memories of helping Mom render lard and can it during hog slaughtering time in late fall, when I was a girl in the 1970's. She always kept a navy blue enamel speckled bowl in the warming cabinet of the Home Comfort cook stove (heated with wood and coal) to fry with in cast iron skillets or spoon over biscuits before putting them in to bake. It made everything taste so good. I am going to try making it as well as homemade butter, too. I have my mom's churn and two of her butter molds. It should be fun.

George said...

Wonderful how easy it is to render, and thank you for the truth about fats. Good, natural animal fats are absolutely wonderful for the human body. For the best information on health and diet, including fats, read "Primal Mind Primal Body" by Nora Gedgaudas, and any books by Catherine Shanahan, Mary Enig or Sally Fallon. The incredible research by these four people will lead anyone to good health. Plus they are good writers.

Jennifer said...

I love lard too! I see your intentions for good health but I think you're a bit misinformed about saturated fat and butter. Grass-fed butter is a great source of vitamin K2 and fats from grass-fed animals can have an omega 3 to 6 ratio of 3:1 or 2:1, which is equivalent to wild salmon. Saturated fat is crucial for good health, thyroid, gland and cell function is among the many benefits. A large portion of our cell membranes are in fact comprised of saturated fat. Animal fats, whether it comes from butter, lard or tallow, are all very good for you if it comes from animals that have been fed and treated right.

Tina said...

The food you describe sounds yummy when you cook it with lard. I guess i'll try it out tomarrow

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great tips Texan. I'm a Californian but my folks were from the south and Texas. I'm very lucky and get all the pig fat that I need as my daughter has a ranch and raises all of our meats. It is going to be great trying out your recipe. I have tried it in the oven and wasn't too pleased with the results. The cracklings were hard as a rock. Like your grandparents mine rendered theres outside and the cracklings were great. Can't wait to make some good old biscuits. Thanks again Gram

Anonymous said...

Can "salt pork fatback" be rendered? Or does it have to be regular lard?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Anon--No, you can't render lard from salt pork as it's already been cured. You need fresh back fat.

Marci C from Cypress said...

Well, Lisa, I should have known you would have exactly what I needed! I picked up some marrow and knuckle bones from a local ranch and she threw in a mess of pork fat for FREE! So now I know how to go about getting some awesome lard out of it. Thanks for your beautiful blog!

KAT said...

Lisa, I've got some pork cheek fat that I would like to render. When cooked, the pork cheeks are salty, I think that means they've been cured. Can I render cured pork fat?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Kat--If the cheeks have already been cured, you can cook it like you would bacon, and then pour the fat left behind in the skillet into a jar, like you would bacon grease. I don't think with already-cured fat you can render it as you would lard.

Alice Simons said...

Thanks Lisa for posting this recipe!

On our farm in southern California we raise grass fed cattle, sheep, chicken and of course pigs! With no antibiotics or hormones and we feed them organic soy and corn free feed. This makes for incredibly healthy and clean fat! A lot of our customers don't know how to use or cook with this type of fat.

Thank you so much for posting easy to follow instructions! If it's okay with you, I'd love to share this recipe on our website so that more people can understand the benefits and the ease of cooking with lard!

Happy Rendering :)

Ken Weller said...

Here in MA, it's hard to find pig fat, but beef suet is easy to find and I can still get it for a buck a pound. I use a very similar method to render it into tallow. It has a similar texture benefit and subtle flavor. It's actually somewhat harder than lard and works wonderfully in refried beans (great recipe you've got) and pan frying.

Juanita Marion said...

I was wondering if you knew where one could buy a lard stick?

Lisa (Homesick Texan) said...

Juanita--My great-grandfather probably made his. I haven't ever seen them for sale.

Libbie Jo Woods Pabelick said...

I make this a lot. I learned how from my mother. I love cooking with the cracklings. They add such a good flavor to potato soups and things.

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