After buying your fat, preferably from a farmer or butcher that treats its hogs humanely, chop it up into little pieces. Before cooking, I advise that you open you kitchen window.
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. On the stove, heat the pot on medium low, stirring occasionally (every 10 minutes).
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.
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. When the cracklings sink to the bottom, the lard has been rendered.
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.
The lard will be a yellowish liquid. This is what it’s supposed to look like.
Refrigerate it overnight and when it solidifies it will turn white. It will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 months, and the freezer for up to a year.
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.