It was the mystery of the missing pig fat…
That almost sounds like it could go with a Nancy Drew novel, huh?
Our first home butchering experience was last year when we cut up our steer. (If you are curious about the emotional aspect of butchering one of your own animals, you’ll find this post interesting.)
We rely heavily on the home butchering video series from Ask The Meat Man (read my full review here), and after watching the videos several times each, we felt as prepared as we could for our first pig experience.
I’ll admit that although I was definitely looking forward to the pulled pork shoulder and bacon, I was really excited to have some homegrown pig fat so I could finally learn how to render lard.
I had ended up with a BUNCH of tallow from our steer, and envisioned an equally large amount from the hogs. After all, pigs are known as “fatty” animals, and we had three of them!
I had my food-grade buckets all clean and ready to hold the masses of leaf fat I expected to get. Leaf fat is what is found around the kidneys. It is the most mild-tasting fat from an animal, and leaf lard makes excellent pastries and homemade pie crusts.
But as we proceeded with the process of gutting, we discovered that there wasn’t much fat to be found around the kidneys at all… Nothing compared to the gigantic amount that I harvested from our steer.
And as we started cutting and wrapping, I was shocked at the minimal amount of fat elsewhere… I mean, they had a good amount of cover fat, etc, but it wasn’t exactly hanging around in a big chunk waiting for me to scoop into my bucket. We scavenged a bit of fat from here and there and I split it with my homesteading neighbor, Jana, who had come to visit. After rendering it down, I would say the final yield was 2-4 quarts max…
I couldn’t help but scratch my head… The pigs were well-fed and far from undernourished. Although we had ended up giving them some commercial feeds, they had been fed loads of extra milk and whey, as well as tons of scraps from our garden.
I was rather embarrassed to think that perhaps we had missed the fat somewhere in the slaughtering process? I decided to call in the experts… I shot off an email to Craig, one of the producers of the Ask The Meat Man butchering videos. I explained my dilemma and also my slight embarrassment that we had somehow possibly missed a bunch of the fat. Here was his reply:
“When we did render lard, we used EVERY bit of fat on the hog. Back fat, kidney fat, any fat that easily trimmed off the hog. We never just render the leaf, of kidney fat. And on an “average” size hog, there might only be 2 to 4 lbs. of the leaf/kidney fat EVER. The kidney on the hog is not near the amount that is on the beef. But to get any decent amount of lard from a hog, you would have to render ALL the fat possible. On average, if I remember correctly from 20 years ago, a 250 lb. on foot hog would get about 20 to 30 lbs. of lard.”
After doing a bit of research, I was surprised to discover that there are 2 different classifications of pigs: lard breeds and bacon breeds.
The American Livestock Breeds Conservancy has a fascinating article about pig breeds— I highly recommend checking it out. An excerpt:
“Pig breeds were traditionally classified as one of two types, lard or bacon. Lard breeds were used to produce lard, a cooking fat and mechanical lubricant. These pigs were compact and thick, with short legs and deep bodies. They fattened quickly on corn, and their meat had large amounts of fat in it. This was considered desirable for improved taste and keeping qualities of the pork. In contrast bacon pigs were long, lean, and muscular. They were traditionally fed on legumes, small grains, turnips, and dairy byproducts, feeds which are high in protein and low in energy. As a result, bacon pigs grew more slowly and put on more muscle than fat.”
Most of the common pig breeds today are definitely “bacon” breeds. (Ours were a Hampshire cross– a very common, modern bacon breed.) The popularity of many lard breeds ended after World War II, especially since lard was demonized as being unhealthy and shortening took it’s place. Thankfully, some of the rare heritage breeds are being brought back by small farmers.
So there is your pig history for the day– are you ready to learn how to actually render this stuff?
A Few Notes About Rendering Lard:
- Lard purists desire their lard to be, well, pure. And snowy white. I’ve produced more than my fair share of brownish, very strong-tasting lard, and for a while, I couldn’t figure out why. However, I’ve since learned that in order to have mild, non-piggy, white lard, you need to be extra careful in the rendering process. Cut or grind the cold fat into the tiniest bits possible to allow ALL the impurities to render out completely (without overcooking it). Also, make sure the cooking temperature is extremely low, and you stir frequently. Any boiling, over-simmering, or sticking to the sides of the pot will probably give you stronger-tasting lard. Now don’t stress– if you do end up with less-than-white lard, you can absolutely still use it in frying. However, it just won’t be as desirable in pie crusts or pastries.
- If you don’t butcher your own pigs, ask your butcher to save you leaf or kidney fat.
- You can eat the cracklins (the leftover bits that you strain from the lard). Some folks like to sprinkle them on salads.
- Contrary to popular belief, lard isn’t horrible for your health like we’ve been led to believe. I’d pick lard over Crisco ANY day.
How to Render Lard (Video)
Here’s my video walkthrough that’ll show you exactly how to render your own lard– for print instructions, keep scrolling!
How to Render Lard Instructions
You will need:
- Leaf fat or kidney fat from pigs
- 1/4 cup water
- Slow cooker or large pot
1. Start out with cold fat. Trust me on this one– it’s infinitely easier to work with. On butchering day, I just stuck the buckets of the pig fat in the fridge and dealt with it several days later when I had time. You can even freeze the raw fat, and then only allow it to partially thaw before you start chopping.
2. Cut off the big chunks of meat or kidney remaining in the fat, then chop into small pieces, or run it through your food processor or meat grinder. The smaller the bits, the faster it will melt down, and the whiter and “cleaner” your lard. (But take care not to over-process it if using a food-processor, as it will heat up and form a big ol’ ball…)
3. Place 1/4 cup water and the ground fat in a slow cooker and set on low. You can also render on a stovetop, the key is to keep the temperature VERY low. If you render the fat too quickly, you’re apt to give it more of a “piggy” taste and golden color. It’ll still be usable, but not ideal for pastries or pie crusts.
4. Allow the fat to render for several hours, stirring frequently. You are looking for the bits of meat/gristle (these are the “cracklins”) to rise to the top, leaving clear, liquid fat underneath. Avoid boiling the fat or allowing it to burn or stick to the edges. All of those things will impart a piggy flavor to your finished tallow.
5. Strain the liquid fat through a piece of cheesecloth and store in glass jars. I’ve read multiple places where people say to just keep your lard at room temperature, but I’m too nervous about it going rancid. Therefore, I keep mine in the fridge, or freezer for long-term storage. It will last a long time in the fridge or freezer.
Use your lard for sauteing or frying. If you do end up with leaf lard, it will be great in pie crusts or other pastries. However, my lard is more strong tasting, so I plan on using it like I would extra bacon fat. (I guess for now I’ll have to stick to my stand-by pie crust recipe using butter or coconut oil!)
So there you have it– fresh, old-fashioned lard, and a conclusion to the mystery of the missing pig fat. 😉Print
How to Render Lard
- Category: Ingredient
- Leaf fat or kidney fat from pigs
- 1/4 cup water
- Slow cooker or large pot
- Start out with cold fat. Trust me on this one– it’s infinitely easier to work with. On butchering day, I just stuck the buckets of the pig fat in the fridge and dealt with it several days later when I had time. You can even freeze the raw fat, and then only allow it to partially thaw before you start chopping.
- Cut off the big chunks of meat or kidney remaining in the fat, then chop into small pieces, or run it through your food processor or meat grinder. The smaller the bits, the faster it will melt down, and the whiter and “cleaner” your lard. (But take care not to over-process it if using a food-processor, as it will heat up and form a big ol’ ball…)
- Place 1/4 cup water and the ground fat in a slow cooker and set on low. You can also render on a stovetop, the key is to keep the temperature VERY low. If you render the fat too quickly, you’re apt to give it more of a “piggy” taste and golden color. It’ll still be usable, but not ideal for pastries or pie crusts.
- Allow the fat to render for several hours, stirring frequently. You are looking for the bits of meat/gristle (these are the “cracklins”) to rise to the top, leaving clear, liquid fat underneath. Avoid boiling the fat or allowing it to burn or stick to the edges. All of those things will impart a piggy flavor to your finished tallow.
- Strain the liquid fat through a piece of cheesecloth and store in glass jars. I’ve read multiple places where people say to just keep your lard at room temperature, but I’m too nervous about it going rancid. Therefore, I keep mine in the fridge, or freezer for long-term storage. It will last a long time in the fridge or freezer.
- Use your lard for sauteing or frying. Or if you cooked it carefully and the lard is mild and white, use it in pie crusts and pastries.
Jackie Mann says
No but we have a big package from when we butchered, probably 15lbs or more, ready to render if I am brave enough!
You can do it Jackie!
Jean yoachum says
Jill can I save bacon fat this way too
Thank you for this post! A friend from church gave us their pig fat to render and I have had it taking up freezer space for far too long! I never even thought about the crock pot!!
You are welcome Judi– happy rendering! 🙂
Amber Nelson says
When do you use lard instead of butter or oil? Do you have suggestions of recipes? I’ve seen many for pie crust and biscuits but I’m thinking there must be more.
Dave Hedtke says
I did the rendering slow and stirred often! Put in pint jars and allowed to cool overnight. Turned out nice and white, was wondering what was the runny liquid on top that did not set up and get white and firm? Thanks
Kortney Davison says
Can you tell me how to do the cracklings that rise to the top? I’d love to save them for cracklin cornbread…
I bought a bunch of leaf lard from a local farmer, along with a huge bag of tallow. One of the bags of leaf lard rendered out about three quarts. I started skimming as soon as it started melting and the longer it rendered the stronger the flavour, so the last bit is used for cooking rather than baking. Plan to do the tallow soon, but have to do this in the garage; DH hates the smell of anything like rendering or broth cooking.
Yes, it’s not my favorite smell either… Thankfully the finished product usually doesn’t smell like that!
Raise a pot belly pig (American Heritage Hog) along-side your other pigs. You’ll get LOTS of lard from them. Alternatively you can raise an American Guinea Hog, if you’d rather have a bigger pig still with lard. We raise pot bellies. Both AHH and AGH have succulent meat, apparently. We have yet to butcher one of our pigs (we’re new to them), but we’re very much looking forward to it. Depending on your area, you may be able to get a pot belly free or very inexpensively (our piglets were $30 ea).
I’ve never thought of raising pot-bellied pigs– I guess I only thought they were raised as pets. Good idea though!
I did a pot belly mix and the amount of lard I got was amazing! 60# of fat from two pigs. The meat is delicious as well.
The only problem with raising pot bellied pigs is if you plan to use a butcher, do
your research. Where I live, pot bellied pigs are considered “pets” and it’s illegal for a commercial butcher to process them. Therefore, we could only raise the pot bellied variety if we do our own burchering. Just something to consider.
Janet McCollom says
Just rendered about 5lbs in my crock pot overnight on low. I ended up with about 2 1/2 qts of lard. It is very mild tasting.
Way to go Janet!
Penney Wood says
Thank you so much for posting this. A friend of ours picked up some pigs from one of the bigger farms down south that was just going to kill all the pigs and bury them since the pandemic they had problem finding processors. So this will be our first pig however we found a local processor but they dont render the lard so this will come in handy and well as having some of the pig fat on hand for our ground venison which we do process ourselves.
I would suggest mixing your rendered lard and one of your other oils to make pie crusts, even though the flavor is there. The result is so much nicer! We even use rendered bacon fat (from store bought bacon) for doing pie crusts, as it’s nicer than Crisco or any of those other commercial products. I also use it in other cooking, such as to flavor my turkey breast before roasting, and in soups instead of olive oil if I’m looking for the added flavor. It’s GREAT for seasoning cast iron, too!
Good idea on the mixing it with other fats! And I forgot the cast iron idea– I’ve done that with bacon fat before, too. 🙂
We use natural fats a lot. We also use the rendered fats (even bacon fat) for making soap! In fact I have 3 jars of rendered goose fat sitting outside right now (in the big natural freezer Momma Nature provided me with) waiting for us to do our next soapmaking adventure. 🙂
Carmie Jones says
Spectrum makes a wonderful organic palm kernal oil shortening–non-hydrogenated because it is naturally saturated. It is VERY mild tasting and works great for pie crusts and any other way one would use shortening. I buy the large 33# box through our co-op to get it very inexpensilvely. It keeps practically for ever in my cool basement.
Ditto to the above, word for word! A really great product. In answer to your question, Jill, we only have chickens. But I do enjoy reading a good mystery! 🙂
The Crunchy Mama says
I bought some beef fat from a farmer last year for a steal and rendered tallow for the first time. It went well. I still have some in the freezer b/c I am not good at remembering to actually use it — silly me!
Hehe, I’ve done that with things before, too! 🙂
What do you use the deef tallow for? Only use I know is candles and soap. We used to render in a HUGE cast iron pot on a wire base over a fire for lard and tallow. Used lard for eating, ALL baking and cooking. Stored in a cool basement and it lasted till the next year for butchering. Couldn’t ever put all that in a fridge. The tallow was for soap making, just plain lye soap. Used in wringer washers. Ate lard and butter most all my life and pretty darn healthy at 51.
I like using the beef tallow for frying, since it has a high smoking point. It makes out-of-this-world french fries!!
Ok, never heard of anyone eating tallow. The taste and smell doesn’t isn’t good. That’s why we have pig fat for eating and beef fat for soapmaking and candles. There’s a reason for that. All are very important to life, esp. 100 yrs. ago but we can’t get it all from one animal. Thanks for the reply. I know, for most all folks, I know it’s the way I mentioned.
Yep, lots of people eat tallow. In fact, McDonald’s french fries were fried in tallow for a long time before it became popular to demonize animal fats.
local supermarket butchers just throw away the fat. sometimes if you ask they will save it for you.. for free
So, if you’re not into butchering, would it be possible to save up scraps of all kinds of meats in the freezer (like pieces of fat from chicken and beef roasts, etc) and render it all at once? I realize it won’t be pure high-quality, but would it work for soap-making?
I think that would work for soap Jessica- you could probably still use it for cooking too, if you wanted to.
Although we still butcher our own hogs, we haven’t rendered lard for years. Seven families would gather and we’d butcher around 10 hogs in a day. My uncles would render lard in a huge cast iron kettle over a log fire. It was the best place to be since we butchered in winter and it warm around the rendering kettle. Plus hot cracklins…yum! Then we’d pour the lard into coffe cans to store in the freezer. It was a lot of hard work to do in one day,but I do miss it.
Also, I use rendered bacon fat in your refried beans recipe. I found out though, that the salt needs to be omitted unless you love really salty beans!
Deborah Jennings says
Thank you so much for this. I have always wondered how to render fat. I know how to make the lye from hard wood ashes. I am trying to learn all that I can about how to do things the old way. And I must say that I am loving it.
Rebecca Mahon says
I saw that you were grinding up meat for sausage, and was wondering if you could share a good sausage recipe. We still have our hog in the freezer waiting to become sausage and can’t seem to get the recipe right. Before we butcher another one i want to know we can make great tasting sausage!!!
Here is a recipe I’ve used in the past: https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2011/03/making-sausage-at-home.html
We like it, although I’ll probably end up doing more experimenting now that I have more meat to work with. 😉
Justine @ The Lone Home Ranger says
We got leaf lard from our meat CSA farmers. We tried the stovetop method, and next time I will definitely try the crockpot method. I think we didn’t quite babysit it enough, and we ended up heating it too high, which caused it to get a stronger taste like you mention of other pig fat. But it still makes delicious biscuits!
From the research I’ve done, the lower temp you render at, the less strong the pig fat comes out. It definitely takes a LONG time, though, doing it at a low low temp, that’s for sure. We get our grass-fed half pig here in a couple weeks, and I am excited to see how much fat we can render (asked for all the organs and fat with the order).
Good to know about the lower temps– I hadn’t heard that before, but will definitely keep it in mind for next time. 🙂
That is the same method that we use. As long as we have power i will store mine in the refrigerator. I know it will store for quite a period without refrigeration. But why take a chance until you have to.
We also use the crock pot to render pork fat. My husband calls it pig butter. 🙂
I just made my first batch of lard yesterday. I was kicking myself for forgetting to ask the butcher to keep the leaf fat and fatback separate (because I had no clue how to tell the difference) but quickly figured it out when I started cutting up the first hunk of fat and found a kidney. I did one crock with leaf fat and one with fatback and ended up with about 7 cups of each. Our pig was 3/4 Berkshire.
Hi, I’m up in Canada on a farm. We raise pigs for our own use, sometimes they get pretty big- we just butchered one who weighed 570lbs dressed! I usually render my lard in an electric roaster, but I’ll do it in pots this time as my roaster is too small. I’ll probably get almost 100 lbs of lard. I like it frozen but because of freezer space, I also can some each time. I pour the hot(not boiling or you’ll break your jar) lard into clean cheese whiz and pickle jars(one piece lid) and put on lid. Then I put it in the fridge until the lid seals and the lard turns white. If you have a cool place with shelves to keep your jars, it will last a long time(if sealed). I have had lard over a year old and never had trouble. Just make sure it’s sealed and keep it relatively cool. A note about home rendered lard- you only need half as much as store lard in recipes as the store version has air whipped into it! I found this out the first time I make pie crust and ended up with a grease blob instead or pastry dough:) Two of my kids are on high calorie diets because of absorpsion issues, so I make LOTS of home-made doughnuts, deep-fried in Lard. I also feed cracklins to them with their eggs. A tip about cracklins,… I used to keep them in small containers in the freezer, but found they can spoil even if frozen, so I tried adding coarse salt to them before freezing and never have any go bad. However, They are salty! I put a TBSP in a frying pan, get it hot and add some farm eggs and fry them with the cracklins, just add pepper, not salt.
Have a good day, Amy
Jill Winger says
Wow– that’s a big pig! Are they lard breeds?
No, I don’t think so. We got a few weaners about 3 years ago and just butchered one every 6 months or so, as we needed meat. The rest we just continued feeding. Each subsequent pig was larger. So this guy was 3 1/2 years old! I got about 500+ pounds of lean meat back from the meat cutter, it filled a large freezer. I rendered it yesterday and today and canned 30 quarts and still have to finish up the cracklins, however, they got a bit well done as I’m not used to using pots and some scorched a bit on the bottom. The electric roaster route is way better. I’ve used my slowcookers before but they aren’t as quick as the roaster. Ideally, we should have butchered them all at market weight because we fed him so much of our naturally raised feed that the price/pound of meat is probably ridiculous! But live and learn. For red meat we eat a lot of deer and moose up here and I am getting 50 meat chicks soon. Having pork gives variety. I’ve done some brine-curing of hams and dry-curing of side pork(bacon) as we haven’t got a smoker built yet. Along the preparedness line, I hope to can some more meat this year, deer and wild fish from our lakes, as our power system can be unpredictable. The hardest thing is to find people with the knowledge about this stuff. When I started, It was hard to find someone with experience rendering lard. Now that I’ve figured it out, I want my kids to have the knowledge. Thanks for posting about this stuff. I wish I’d found it 3 years ago:)
God bless from Canada, Amy
We are up in Canada too 😉 I was wondering about what to do with the cracklings. I’m glad I saw your comment. Once you strain them out did you add salt to them and dehydrate them or dry them out more in the oven? Would love to know more about how to use them up, I’m a firm believer in using everything. Thanks so much!
Amy L Kirby says
Hi Erin, I just take them out with a slotted spoon and put on paper towel to get them a little less greasy, then mix in small freezer containers with coarse salt. I use small containers as you thaw one out and keep in fridge, but you dont want a huge amount thawed. A few spoons is lots for a pan of eggs. If you put them back in the oven I think you’d get a burnt taste. Also I grind my fat first so my cracklings are fine. What doesnt get eaten is good to give to chickens or wild birds in winter, or to add to pet food for outside dogs and cats, as they need extra in the cold months. I’m in northern Saskatchewan. Just learned yesterday how to make soap with lard and lye, it turned out great!
I’m getting ready to try this, but my question has to do with bacon. How did yours turn out, and what method/process & brine did you use? We have butchered several pigs (love Ask the MeatMan videos!). Not sure where our instructions originally came from, they are a copy of a copy, and the original source has been left behind.
Jill Winger says
Well, I am embarrassed to say that the pork belly is still in my freezer and I’m still trying to decide what to do with it! but when I figure it out, I will be posting about it. 🙂
I know this is an older post, but I appreciated the information you gave and was able to render some pastured pork lard I got from our local farmers’ market. I put the rendered lard into jars, but when I went to use it, it was really hard to scoop out. My suggestion for those of us not rendering massive amounts of lard is this: measure your rendered lard by 1/2 and 1/3 cups and cool in plastic wrap-lined muffin trays. When they’re cool, pop them out, wrap them, and store in the fridge in a different container. My pie crust recipe calls for 1/3 cup lard per crust, and my tortilla recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups lard, so for me these sizes make sense. You could also use custard cups or some other container and cool in 1-cup increments. Just a suggestion.
Jill Winger says
Agree Heather! I have been meaning to edit that into this post– I’ve found the jar idea doesn’t work great for me, either. Another idea is to pour the liquid lard into a 9×13 pan, and then cut it into bars or cubes to freeze for later.
I know this is an old post but hopefully I can get some help just the same. A while back ago, I tried to make my own lard. I got pig back fat from a local butcher (when looking online, it said back fat was good), I also did the low & slow crock pot method. Put it in the crock overnight in the garage just in case it stunk. So glad I did because it was the most rancid smell I have ever encountered. I was chocking as I dumped it into a bag & tossed it in the trash. Is back fat not the correct one to use?
I will hopefully be harvesting a wild hog or two in the next few months. Would the fat from these be safe to render for lard or not? I’m new to doing lots myself. I don’t live on a farm, actually in the suburbs in a subdivision currently. So raising my own animals be rather difficult. Any suggestions are greatly appreciated!
Jill Winger says
Yes– you should definitely be able to render the fat from your wild hog. How cool!
Thanks so much for your speedy reply!! I’ll have to let you know how it goes.
Tiffany R. says
What videos from the meatman did you reference for butchering your hog? I looked on his site but didn’t see one that said pig butchering. We are getting ready here soon to butcher but I’d love more info and know how. Like you we have had experience with deer and whatnot. I’d appreciate any help you would have!
I am curious when you use the fat for frying can you reuse it? For example you mention making French fries, can you refridgerate the used fat and use it again?
I remember rendering hogs with my parents when I was a kid. Mom rendered lard and cooked cracklins in a big black castiron pot and when dad got the tenderloin out, she would take it and go to the house and fry tenderloin and make homemade biscuits and bring it back to the hog party. Those were good days. Mom and dad are both still living so Ill have to bring this subject up and let them reminiece. Thanks for great post.
So, is the grease left from frying bacon considered lard? Just wondering, as I save it for cooking.
Jill Winger says
It’s not *technically* considered lard but it’s pretty darn close. I save mine too. 🙂
I rendered lard for the first time last summer…we had gotten a half a pig thru a local farm and i had stuck the lard in the freezer. I would never go thru huge amounts of it..so I canned it. I researched it and they said it can pretty much last a super long time once it is canned..so i have a ton of it in my cupboard.
Bubba Gurley says
I wonder if you could do this with wild hogs? Also wonder if you could do it with fatty small game animals like beaver and raccoon? Maybe not for human consumption, but possibly for birds and such.
About how many lbs of fat did you use in the recipe? Wondering if the amount of water needs to fluctuate depending on the amount of fat?
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Cheryl Dufresne says
Have Old spot pigs. Love doing this. Didn’t know you could freeze it. Awesome. If you put in canning jars like you can vegs etc will it keep or go bad?
I have Mother’s big black pot but I do not remember how she used it outside.
Gale Stovall says
We render lard in our propane turkey fryer. One pig makes about 3 gallons of ground big fat . We only use well trimed fat no meat . We rinse all the pink – meat color that transfers from the cutting board to the fat then put in the fridge grind then cook. We drain the liquid lard from the spicket on the bottom of the turkey fryer into clean hot mason jars with a funnel and one of those disposable paint filters you can get at paint store.
Jill Winger says
Sounds like a great system Gale!
Maria H says
I am super impressed! Time for me to get the fat out of the freezer!
Thank you for posting!
Hi we are getting a half of a cow in a few weeks and you were saying you have rendered your cows fat. Is it the same process as the pig? Do you have any other links that are good you could suggest me to? Thanks for your dedication blogging about all these things.
Jill Winger says
Yep! Here’s how to render tallow (cow fat): https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/2012/02/how-to-render-beef-tallow.html
Susan Stanley says
just to add on some old ways, suet is another word for hard fat
suet crusts, and there were suet puddings with “hard sauce” (boozey sugar butter)
with the pasty ~~~or pasties~~~ from southwest UK, old day miners had suet in these meat hand pie crusts; my family recipes refer to beef suet for that
now butchers will ask if you are talking hard pig fat (not in this instance)
sometimes at custom butchers you can buy ground suet and freeze before or after rendering (or freeze baked products ok)
hope this helps and thanks for what you do
diane etherton says
We had our pigs commercially slaughtered so we can sell some of the meat, but we didn’t want to pay to render the lard (should have, will next time). I have rendered one 5-lb chunk of fat in the crock-pot so far. The very faint bacon flavor is fabulous in a pecan or apple pie!
When I was a kid, my mother used to render lard in a turkey roaster in the oven on a very low temp. We used the lard in all our baking. It did have a slight piggy taste, but was very good. She didn’t cut the pieces real small so that probably accounts for a little stronger taste.
Jill Winger says
Yes, some fat seems to be “piggier” than others.
This is the third time I’ve rendered pig fat. I really love cooking with it. Just a suggestion for storing. I pour my fat while still warm in 9 by 13 glass baking dishes and put them in the fridge or freezer till set up. Then cut them in 3 by 4 chunks and put them in plastic baggies. Makes it so easy to grab and use. Thanks for all your info on your blog!
Jill Winger says
I’ve rendered lard a few times but even on low in the crock pot, the lard is still boiling. Has this happened to you and if so, what tips do you have? TIA
Jill Winger says
Sometimes newer crockpots are still too hot, even on lower settings. Try getting an older model at a thrift store, or you can just render on the stove top on a low burner.
So how much fat per water should I be using? Or does it matter? I’m completely new to this. Ordering from a local farm and it looks like they typically sell it at around 2lbs.
Louise Osteen says
1/4 cup for any amount is sufficient. Just to keep it from sticking to the pan. It all cooks out anyway. Watched a lot of You Tube videos before I did my first batch. I’m gonna try the electric roaster method today. hubby has gone to get his meat grinder. Everyone says the smaller pieces the better.
Erin G says
I render chicken fat- here’s my questions: Why do you add water? Last time I rendered, the watery fat rose to the top, and the nice white fat on bottom. The stuff on the bottom lasted really well but not the top watery layer. I did it on super low heat in a stove pan. Am I supposed to skim the watery layer off the top? Or can I do it without water? I want just the one layer of white stuff, not weird watery fat on top. Thanks!
My lard is rendering right now, Thanks for the info. Question- what do to with all the pieces of meat that we render out? Fry it up and use it like bacon?? There sure is a lot of it!!
Don Heenan says
Possibly you did not render leaf lard. Leaf lard is just about meat free which is trimmed.
Theresa Ross says
When I rendered my last batch of pork fat, a watery layer accumulated below the fat.
It started smelling bad and I drained it. Will the (very good looking!) fat still be ok?
Theresa Ross says
Sorry, I meant it formed that layer when in the bottle.
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Hi, I just finished rendering a ton of lard from a local butcher. I use it in soap making. I got all different kinds of fat, and some of it rendered cleaner than the rest (I assume that was the leaf lard). The rest of it had this really fine sediment that made it difficult to strain (I have been using milk filters inside of a sieve to strain). The sediment kept clogging the filters. Did I do something wrong in the rendering process or maybe my filters are too fine? I wouldn’t want that sediment in my finished lard. Thanks!
I was able to get some leaf fat (pork) and some beef fat from a local farmer. There is just something really special about putting in all the time and effort to render your own lard and tallow. Yes, it does smell funny when doing it, but the rewards are amazing! Well worth the effort! Mine turned out beautiful, clean, and white (to my surprise). I use my rendered beef tallow to “grease” my baking sheets for anything savory. It gives food a wonderful crispy brownness and a superior flavor. LOVE my lard and tallow!
Hi Jill! What an excellent source of information you are! 🙂
Would you tell me what is the function of the water mixed with the fat, for rendering? I’ve always thought that just rendering the fat in low temp was enough, without adding any water. Now I got curious about how the water can improve the end result.
Andover Plastering says
This blog is very perfect and usefully information. Thanks for sharing
We grow the rare Mulefoot breed of hog, an old-time lard hog, and usually get 30lb. of lard from each hog. I know other breeds can give far less. Thanks for the rendering info. I am going to try it myself, in the past we have just had the butcher render the lard into small tubs.
Elaine Riggen says
When my lard is nearly done, I will use a potato masher to help squish the grease out of the cracklings. Then I use a potato riser to complete the process. Every little bit is valuable to me. Thanks.
I am currently rending leaf lard and while it’s in the pot (almost 2 hours) it is turning a milky color instead of the more clear color. Am I doing something incorrect?
I was wondering if you could help me? I have been caring for my husband for over 3 1/2 years by myself! My cousin born and raised ion a farm and then after she got married they had one until moving to town. Now this wonderful and sweet lady, friend and cousin was going to a store in a small town near where she grew up to buy lard for her beautiful pie crust and other things. The store got sold out they stop carrying the lard!!
I want to thank her for all of her help and more to come! Can you tell me where I buy this lard?! I would hope.some place some one sells it. Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you.
Lori Hill says
I was wondering where could I buy some good lard at? The reason for asking my sweet cousin has helped me in so many w as ways, we are both in our 60’s . She grew up on a farm and then her and her husband had a farm until moving here. After both farms selling, and the little store where she did her shopping sold out they stopped carrying the lard. Of course now there’s no pies, or other goodies. But she has went way beyond what she ever had to, she is always here for us, able to help to take to hospital or just be here in need. I want to find her some really nice lard. Any suggestions?
I use lard rendered from whatever fat I have, usually the trimmings from a pork butt. I use it to replace half the oil in pancakes, and it helps make them wonderful. I use it for frying and small amounts replacing some of the olive oil I use in making a great carrot cake. It’s not something I use every day or even often, but the small amount I get – gets used over time.
Tom Badger says
I came here (from the UK) to learn how to render lard. Stayed to listen to your latest podcase (about eating offal and, more importantly, opting out of the slavish constructs of society. Really agree with all you are doing. Many blessings on your family’s journey!
I had some pig fat from a pig we raised and had butchered. I cooked it down in the crock pot and it turned out to be the prettiest white color. My question is does it HAVE to be specifically leaf fat or can it be any fat from the pig? I never got any cracklings when I did mine, but I also believe I could have cooked it down more. If it does have to be leaf fat what can the other fat be used for
Cris - Prairie Homestead Team says
Back fat is just as obvious as it sounds, it comes from the back, this fat/lard has more porky flavor than leaf lard. Learn more about the different types of lard and fats in this really great podcast episode (if you watch the video, you’ll see images of the lard, too): https://www.theprairiehomestead.com/tph_podcasts/season-8-episode-10-magical-animal-fats-with-michelle-visser