Monday, November 7, 2011

Rendering Lard

That  Scottish blood runs deep in O Wise One and following Samhain tradition October 31 was the day of slaughter. The pigs went to butcher before the butcher shop closed down to process deer which starts next week here in Missouri. 

The butcher was very generous with pig fat and sent me a whole 1/2 garbage bag of it. Already ground up and ready to render. As soon as I got it back we started the rendering process.
I started out with enough to cover the bottom of my large cast iron dutch oven and my crock pot and large roaster. Setting both to a low setting and putting the large cast iron pot on the simmer eye.  I added enough water to cover the bottom of the pots to give it time to melt down some without sticking. The water will cook out.

Once the fat starts changing color or rendering then I continue to add fat until I fill the pot almost full but still able to stir it comfortably.

 As the fat melts I dip off any scum that forms on top. Once you get a large amount of oil collected on top I start dipping off the clear fat and running it through a colander lined with cheese cloth into a bowl. With a funnel I start putting the hot liquid lard into clean sterile jars to cool. As you can see here the liquid fat will be somewhat clear and then when it cools turning white.

I continue melting and filling jars until I get to the bottom layer of fat with just enough liquid remaining to cover it. Once the remaining fat pieces start to brown I stop collecting liquid lard. I turned up the heat just a little and allowed the small amount that sinks to the bottom to brown completely and become crunchy then dip them out and run them through cheese cloth and put them on paper towels to drain.

These are cracklings which are nothing more than fried crunchy pieces of fat. These are a great addition to corn bread and was my father's favorite corn bread.

Once cool I put these in pint jars to be used in corn bread through out the year. They will go in the freezer.

The remaining lard that the cracklins were cooked in will be much darker than the first liquid lard that you collected. I put this darker lard in separate jars. It will taste a little more like meat and was what my mother used to melt and put on the top of her biscuits to make them nice and brown on top with just a hint of a meat taste.

I ended up with 18 quart jars of lard or 32 pounds to make soap with or use in baking. Also there were 8 jars of cracklins for cornbread making. In the picture above you can see the darker lard in the second jar from the left. Once the jars were cool I put on lids and all went into the freezer. The entire process took me a little over 14 hours from cooking to having jars completed. Then I let them cool overnight before freezing.
I will take them out as needed and let defrost for soap making. If I want to bake with it I put mine in the refrigerator.

 Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter


  1. Thanks for all this great information, CQ.
    Where do you buy cheesecloth?

  2. This is so amazing!

    I remember Mom rendering her lard in a big kettle over an open fire. We made soap, too. The knowledge remains with us, but we do not do it anymore...but good to know we can.

  3. Thanks for this info! Our hogs will be slaughtered next week. My mom loaned me a big cast iron three legged pot that my grandmother used, along with a propane cooker that it fits on so we can do the work outside. Do you have to freeze the lard?

  4. Thanks for the very informative post. I have never rendered lard and you make it look so easy.
    How do you store the lard? Just in the jars like that on your shelf? You don't have to pressure can them or anything?

  5. All I could think about was making biscuits with some of that beautiful lard! It turned out great!

  6. Linda I buy my cheesecloth at WalMart in the fabric section..

    Anita I could have done mine on the propane cooker outside but it was raining off and on : ( I freeze mine but some people can theirs or just store on shelf. I always just freeze mine.

    Laura I just store mine in jars in the freezer. Not even sealed ! I have never tried to can it.

  7. So pretty-and yes lard can be pretty : ) It makes so many things taste soooo good. You do yours about the same way Granny and Pap do!

  8. Great post! My mother used to do this! Lots of great memories!

  9. This was the tradition on the farm I grew up on too back in the day nobody worried about cholesterol numbers. Sue~weeeeeeee!!!

    I can almost taste those cracklins!!!! Mmmmmmm!

    God bless and have a beautiful week sweetie!!!! :O)

  10. It's time for us to do this again as well. It was pretty easy although I will say the house smelled like it for a day or so.

  11. Thank-you for this. I learned some more tips! (i.e. taking some lard out before the cracklings start to brown) What amount of cracklings do you use in a batch of cornbread?

  12. dr momi I usually throw in about 1/2 a cup.

  13. WOW - how interesting! I enjoyed this visit today immensely!

  14. Very interesting post. It was interesting to see how you make lard in a small batch. I never thought of adding crackling to cornbread. We make lard over a fire in a big kettle. We never freeze it, just store in a lard can in a cool place. The jar I'm using, I store in the fridge just to keep it fresh and handy.

  15. I found this very, very interesting. I've never been around anyone who did it. Thank you for this great post. BTW, I hate to sound dumb, but is it the same lard you would put in pie crust too?

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  17. So you put lard in glass jars and it is safe to put in the freezer? I have never frozen lard before but am I correct that it does not expand when frozen so there is no danger of the glass or seal breaking?

  18. This makes me want to raise and butcher a pig just for the fabulous lard and cracklings!! Thank you for the education. We don't have pigs yet on the farm but... :-) It really is good to know to know! I wonder how well it would work for other animal fats like beef and lamb.

  19. This makes me want to raise and butcher a pig just for the fabulous lard and cracklings!! Thank you for the education. We don't have pigs yet on the farm but... :-) It really is good to know to know! I wonder how well it would work for other animal fats like beef and lamb.

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