Have you heard how beneficial pig fat is for you?
Well, if you haven’t, let me introduce you to lard. If you render pig fat it turns into a substance known as lard.
If the lard comes from a pig raised outdoors, chances are it has some excellent nutrients in it your body loves.
For instance, most people today are deficient in vitamin D. If you cook or bake with lard from a pasture-raised pig, it’s a natural source of vitamin D.
Therefore, I’m going to share with you the simple process of rendering lard from pig fat. Here’s how you go about it:
- Pig fat
- A large skillet, soup pot, or wok
- Mason jar
- Canning funnel
1. Gather the Fat
If you don’t raise your own pigs, you can still acquire pig fat from your local butcher. However, I raise and butcher my own feeder pigs each year.
Naturally, I don’t let the fat go to waste. Instead, I render it down and use it for many different things. It’s said the fat around the kidneys is the best for you because it renders the clearest.
But I use all the fat available to me from the pig because it is all still healthy and readily available.
Yet, I can’t state this enough: If you’re going to render your own lard, be sure the pig was raised outdoors.
Much of the pork you buy from the grocery shelf came from an indoor hog farm. The pigs weren’t exposed to the outdoors.
Which is a problem because they weren’t able to take in sunlight. Therefore, they more than likely won’t have vitamin D in their fat if they themselves were most likely deficient in it.
If you’re looking for positive health benefits by cooking with lard, be sure you know something about the animal it came from.
2. Chop It Up
Once you’ve gathered your fat, lay it out on a chopping block and cut it into smaller chunks with a sharp knife.
You can cube the fat into one-inch pieces if you like. The goal is to make the fat small enough so it can fit easily in a pan.
Remember, the chunks are going to shrink during the rendering process. With this in mind, you can roughly chop the fat and it will do fine. Don’t waste too much time concerning yourself with proper cutting techniques.
3. Throw It in a Pan
When the fat has been chopped into smaller pieces, throw them in a pan. You can use a cast iron pan, a non-stick pan, or even a wok.
What will happen is that the pieces will shrink, and there will be a large amount of liquid coming from the fat.
Be sure the pan is big enough to accommodate the liquid. I usually use a non-stick soup pot or a cast-iron soup pot.
Turn the stove on medium-high heat until the pieces of fat begin to sizzle and produce liquid. When the liquid starts to form (which usually only takes approximately five minutes), turn the pan down to low.
One thing you may have noticed is missing from this step (if you’ve researched rendering lard) is the one cup of water.
I don’t add water to the pan when rendering lard. I haven’t needed it, and my lard turns out great. If you would like to play around with making lard and seeing which method you prefer, you can add one cup of water to the pan at the time you add your lard.
4. Be Patient
As the liquid begins to form, you will have to play the waiting game. Approximately every 30 minutes, stir the pan to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom.
Beyond the occasional stirring, the lard will render on its own. It should take around three hours to reach completion.
You’ll know the lard is fully rendered when the fat pieces have become small, brown bits in the pan. They will shrink to the size of rough-cut bacon bits.
Also, the lard will be a golden color, depending upon which fat you rendered. If you only used the fat around the kidneys, it will usually be clearer.
5. Strain and Save
When the rendering process is finished, place a funnel in a mason jar. Add a hand-held strainer inside the funnel.
This will catch any of the crispy pieces of fat and keep them out of your rendered lard. Once the lard has been poured into the mason jar, allow it to cool.
I usually leave my cooling lard sitting on an oven mit on my counter. When the lard has fully cooled off, it will be a solid white substance.
From there, place a lid and ring on the mason jar and you can leave it on your counter for approximately six months or store it in your fridge for a year.
Lard can be used to bake with, grease your cast-iron pans, fry with, and much more. The best part is it costs you almost nothing and is healthier than most cooking oils.
6. The Added Bonus
When you’ve finished rendering your lard, you may wonder what to do with the crispy fried pieces of fat remaining.
Well, these fried pieces of fat are called cracklins. They’re another gift you receive when rendering lard. You can do many things with them and should hold on to them to get as much as you can from the pig fat.
Many people will toss the cracklins into their cake of cornbread when baking it. They’re also good tossed back in a skillet with a little oil and continue to fry them until crispy.
From there, add some salt and enjoy them as a homemade snack.
As you can tell, rendering lard is an easy process with many benefits. It’s good for you and good for your budget too.
Plus, it allows you to utilize as many parts of the pig as possible if you’ve raised them yourself. This is of high importance to me when I take an animal’s life to feed my family.
I hope that by explaining this easy yet beneficial process, it will help you to produce many delicious meals in your future.