In the past lard has had a bad rap. But I thinks it's making a comeback! Some folks are clueless as to what lard is or where it comes from and how good it is for you - in moderation of course. Lard is an excellent choice of cooking fat and has way more nutritional value than vegetable oils we use not so moderately. Fat from pigs that live on pasture (Like Ours here @ Reyer Farms) are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D, E, and A. Not to mention the FLAVOR is there unlike what I'd refer to as 'pushed pork' from thegrocery that has been grown using methods pushing pigs together on concrete to grow fast, fast, fast. If you are into making things yourself then this is added cool points!!
Rendering pork fat at home
- 1-2 lb pork fat (back or leaf fat) thawed
- 1/2-1 cup water
- heavy stock pot or cast iron skillet
- canning funnel (on standby)
- fine mesh sieve or small wholed collander
- ( line with cheesecloth or coffee filter)
- jars for storage
Trim any meat off from fat. Place fat and water (begin with 1/2 cup water) and turn the heat on medium-low to low (depending on your stove). Cook the fat; kinda simmering the fat. Stir often and adjust heat as necessary - you don't want it to splatter and pop (like it does with water). It may take 30 or so for the fat to begin to melt. If water has already evaporated at this point add more. (water prevents burning). Fat will begin to brown and cook down.
When you have 1/2" to 1" of liquid fat strain some out. Ladle into jars through fine sieve lined with cheesecloth or coffee filter. Continue cooking and ladling out the liquid as the fat cooks until the remaining fat becomes dark golden brown; then you are finished cooking. Lard should turn white as it cools. That dark golden brown remaining are cracklings (see ideas below).
Place lard in the jars and allow to cool to room temperature. Store in the freezer (Long, long time), fridge ( or at room temperature if planning to use soon.
Rendering Fat in a Crockpot
Very similar to stovetop method.
Chop or shread fat add 1/4 cup of water (more if needed later) and turn crockpot on low. Keep and eye on it and stir often. Cracklings and fat will begin to seperate in 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Ladle melted fat into a cheese cloth lined sieve or collander.
Cracklings will be soft golden brown crumbs of deliciousness left after the fat is gone! Cracklings should remain cooking until crisp. They can be roasted in oven or in skillet or even in crockpot after fat has been removed. Cracklings can be added to cornbread, salads, slaw, or a simple snack by it's self.
Back Fat vs. Leaf Fat
Back fat comes from the back under skin. Good for rendering but has more of an odor than leaf fat. Also will have more of a yellowish tint after rendering. Good for frying and cooking
Leaf fat comes from around the kidneys. It is white white fat and nearly odorless when rendering. It results in a pure white lard that is best for pie crust and pasteries
1 pound of fat will yield approximately 10 ounces of lard + cracklings!