Did you know that lard is a healthy fat? Unfortunately, a few decades ago canola oil started to be used as a substitute, but like bacon grease and real butter, lard is a great healthy fat to cook with. I had never cooked with lard until we bought half of a pig from a local farmer last year. My husband butchered it with a friend and we ended up with three large bags of pork fat in my freezer that I didn’t know what to do with. Luckily, a friend tipped me off that lard is really easy to render!
I used these instructions as a jumping off point and the result is beautiful, white lard that is divine for cooking (and makes for some delicious cracklins)!
To render lard from pork fat with my method, you’ll need:
- a slow cooker
- a metal saucepan
- some mason jars
- a metal colander would be helpful, but I just spread a large cheese cloth over my saucepan when it is time to strain the fat.
- Chop up the pork fat into small chunks (The smaller, the better. I should have chopped up my fat into smaller pieces than shown above.)
- Add a small amount of water to the slow cooker, about 1/4 cup.
- Turn the slow cooker to “low” and add the fat.
- Let the fat melt in the slow cooker. It will take at least a couple of hours. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn.
- When a significant amount of the fat has melted, CAREFULLY pour it through the cheesecloth into the metal saucepan (here’s where the metal colander comes in handy). Return any solid pieces back to the slow cooker. Be very careful not to burn yourself!
- Continue cooking the remaining fat, repeating step 5 until all the fat is melted and all that remains are the cracklins that look like little pieces of bacon. Let them sizzle in the slow cooler until they’re nice and crisp. (I found that if I strained the melted fat every hour, the remaining solid pieces would melt more quickly.)
- Carefully transfer the rendered lard into mason jars. It solidifies when cool.
The process was far easier than I thought it would be and I felt like a bonafide Laura Ingalls Wilder in the kitchen! We’ve been using lard for almost everything lately! Granted, when we tried to use it to grease the griddle for pancakes the other day, they had a distinct flavor I might not want to repeat.