Making Lard – Using the Whole Hog

In an effort to make room in the freezer for the meat that came back from the processor we rendered 3 GALLONS of lard from the fat from the August 2016 hogs.  On average, a hog yields about 10 lbs of fat or as it’s also known suet.  There are two basic types of fat, leaf fat and regular fat. Leaf fat comes from around the kidneys and renders into lard that is prized by pastry chefs.

So let’s render some lard!  There are three steps to rendering lard from pork fat:

1. Grind or cut into small pieces the fat.  We use a meat grinder attachment for our KitchenAid mixer.  Honestly, the grinder works poorly on meat, but it did a good job on the fat.

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Fat after being processed through the grinder.

 

2.  Heat the fat until it separates.  This can be done in a crockpot or in the oven.  Do exercise caution, lard is flammable.

We did some in a crockpot and in a huge cast iron dutch oven like this we bought in a yard sale. I believe its original purpose was a fish fry. My preferred method, is the dutch oven in the oven but both worked well.

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3. Strain the resulting liquid into jars.

We used a metal strainer like this. You could use the large one over a bowl. Or what I found works well is using a metal canning funnel over the mason jar you are going to store the lard in and have the small metal strainer on top of the funnel.

The small one fits quite well and makes it easy to pour directly into the funnel. Using all metal or glass is important because the lard will be very hot. I just poured through the metal strainer but if you really wanted as “pure” lard as you could get you could put a layer of cheesecloth on top of the strainer.

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Cracklings

There is one byproduct of lard rendering that you should know about, it’s a wonderful thing called cracklings.From that 3 gallons of lard we made about a casserole dish full of cracklings. Cracklings are the bits of meat left after making the lard. You fry them up and they are super tasty in cornbread or salads. But this is still a ton of cracklings.  We put them into 1 cup portions, sealed them with the food saver and put them in the freezer.

Let me introduce you to a new way of using cracklings I’ve found. As a topping on spaghetti!! Adds a slight crunch and almost like bacon bits on top. Might sound weird but it’s fantastic.

One common use for lard is soap making.  Look for a blog post in the near future on making soap.
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