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how to render lard

paul wheaton

Joined: Apr 01, 2005
Posts: 17402
Location: missoula, montana (zone 4)

Suzy Bean renders lard in her favorite way. And she talks about some other lard rendering techniques that she has tried and doesn't like as much.

The way she likes: the stove top "dry method" (no water) in a cast iron skillet. She says a stainless steel pan would be good too. Low to medium heat.

Some ways she doesn't like as much:

crock pot: the cracklins don't crackle. they're mushy. And there might be water in the lard

oven: it's fine, but it takes a while

the wet method in a cast iron skillet: fine, but why bother when the dry method works so well

In this video, she uses "leaf lard" which is actually not yet lard. It is organ fat which will be rendered into lard. Leaf lard makes the very best lard - which makes the very best cookies, pie crusts and pastries! This is as opposed to "back fat" which makes a lard suitable for savory cooking.

Cut the fat up and toss it in the skillet. When the pork rinds look yummy, you're ready. take the cracklings out and pour the liquid lard into a mason jar through a cheesecloth. Done.

Why do this? Because the fat does not store well. It will go nasty in a few days. The lard will keep for months or even years. Suzy confesses that she had some fat go moldy once.

I do some movie magic time lapse fast forward stuff in a coupla spots. I show the fat rendering quickly and I show the liquid turning to a solid quickly.

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Jocelyn Campbell

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 3118
Location: Missoula, MT
Well done, Suzy Bean! Excellent time lapses, too, Paul.

And no orangutans were harmed in the making.

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Brad Davies

Joined: Sep 22, 2011
Posts: 213
Location: Clarkston, MI
Very well done!

Great editing, and I love how you got the logo in there.

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~Thomas Edison
Kyle Williams

Joined: Jul 09, 2009
Posts: 53
Location: Olympia, WA
So can I safely consider my bacon squeezin's lard? I feel like there can't be much of a difference between the lard that was rendered in this video, and the bacon grease that is left in my cast iron after breakfast. If I pour that through a cheese-cloth and store it similarly, will it keep just as long?

I'm paleo and I tend to end up with quite a lot of bacon grease, and I'd like to figure out if there is anything extra I need to do to effectively and safely store it longer term so I have time to use it up.

Jocelyn Campbell

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 3118
Location: Missoula, MT
Kyle Williams wrote:So can I safely consider my bacon squeezin's lard?

Not exactly. Bacon has been cured, and retains the flavor of the curing - whether salt, brown sugar, maple syrup, etc. Lard is much, much more "plain" tasting and more suitable for pastries and overall cooking where you might not want a bacon flavor. (Weird as that may be, not wanting bacon flavor! )

Also, in my experience lard gets a lot harder/firmer in texture when cooled than bacon grease. Hence the beauty of using lard (NOT bacon grease) for pastry.

Though I do recommend this discussion about bacon fat mayo and using bacon grease in place of mayo in deviled eggs and other places. Yum.

Jocelyn Campbell

Joined: Nov 09, 2008
Posts: 3118
Location: Missoula, MT
Kyle Williams wrote:<snip> I'd like to figure out if there is anything extra I need to do to effectively and safely store it longer term so I have time to use it up.

Grease keepers like this one from Pantry Paratus are awesome. I have a ceramic one with a stainless mesh strainer that sits inside the lid.

Some folks are fine with keeping bacon grease on the counter (maybe this is where those curing agents help prevent spoiling more so than with lard), but I keep my bacon grease in the fridge just to be sure.
Kyle Williams

Joined: Jul 09, 2009
Posts: 53
Location: Olympia, WA
But as far as storability (not sure if that's a word), they're on par? I don't make or eat a lot of pastries, and usually use my saved bacon grease when frying up some other meat, or roasting vegetables. Will bacon grease keep as long is really what I'm wondering, or do I have to do some kind of secondary rendering?

Sorry, I wrote and posted the above only about a minute after your 2nd reply. I definitely will look into getting a strainer like that. And so far I keep my bacon grease on the counter. I'll keep experimenting, and if I "find out the hard way" I'll let people know.
P Thickens

Joined: Jan 15, 2012
Posts: 177
Location: Bay Area, California (z8)
I render in the slow cooker. She mentions it didn't work for her (cloudy, no cracklins), but she apparently used water... unnecessary. Just dry-render the chunks. And then you don't need to stir, at all. When most of the lard is rendered, pour it off and keep rendering. The first pour of lard is beautifully clean, no impurities and clean white, clear even in liquid state. Further rendering gets you cracklins and not-so-clear lard, perfect for high-flavor dishes like browning meat.

I like the simplicity of this method.
duane hennon

Joined: Sep 23, 2010
Posts: 540
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a

I remember when i was young we used to render lard in one of these


when butchering several hogs at the same time, production is important

these could probably found at yardsales
my mom used it for chickens (large family, more than one at a time, or a large turkey
the oven in the stove was for bread , pies and cakes

I remember grinding the fat in one of those hand grinders first
John Polk

Joined: Feb 20, 2011
Posts: 6879
Location: Currently in Seattle. Probably moving 1 hour north by end of the year.
Those electric roasters are also great for those hot summer days...set it up on the deck.
Beats the Hell out of firing up the kitchen oven for hours on end.

Ivan Weiss

Joined: Dec 19, 2009
Posts: 160
Location: Vashon WA, near Seattle and Tacoma
I use my three cast iron dutch ovens.

Pastured pork and beef on Vashon Island, WA.
Jackson Barnett

Joined: Apr 21, 2011
Posts: 38
Location: Foothills of SW Maine - Zone 5a
That's great, Thank you!

Nice time-lapse work.

Be Well and Happy... It's more fun!
Cassie Langstraat

Joined: May 05, 2014
Posts: 3288
Location: Zone 9b
I'm brining attention back to this thread because I am about to render some back fat from a pig that I helped butcher a few nights ago. I don't have cast iron unfortunately, so I am going to try the stainless steel method. Will report back with my results!

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Dan Boone

Joined: Jan 24, 2014
Posts: 1139
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a) ~39" rain/year
The year my father shot a fat moose (those are rare) just a mile from town (so my mom was there for the skinning-and-gutting) she collected a lot of leaf fat from the intestines. She rendered it on our wood cook stove in a cast iron dutch oven (no water). Moose tallow turns out to be very good stuff if you can get it. We children thought the cracklins a delicious marvel.

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Izzy Bickford

Joined: Dec 31, 2013
Posts: 98
Location: Benton County, WA
A few months ago I purchased some pastured beef from a friend. The country butcher offered some "dog bones" which were the leg bones sawed into 1 foot chunks, with most of the flesh removed. I simmered them in water to make a (very weak) stock, and discovered almost a quart of fat had come off of 3 bones.

I skimmed the fat and heated it in a pan to remove the water. It's lasted well and makes a great grease for seasoning pans. We used it for biscuits once. Anyone else have experience with using leg bone fat?
subject: how to render lard