Who has pork fat taking up space in their freezer?
(Hand raised) Yep, that’s me!
There are SO many great things that you can make with rendered pork fat, and contrary to popular belief, it’s actually GOOD for you!!
Render? What is that?
Rendering is where you cook pork fat very slowly, at a low temperature until it turns to liquid. All the water evaporates out and then you strain out all the leftover solid pieces.
After it cools, it becomes a soft, spoonable buttery white fat that is pure, relatively odorless and perfect for cooking, baking, candle making, soap and don’t forget skin care products!
So why render fat into lard?
#1: Excellent for Cooking & Baking
- Lard is 100% pure. There’s no added ingredients.
- It has one of the highest smoke points (370*F), making it great for frying.
- It does not oxidize easily. Less oxidation = less free radicals in your body. Free radicals = higher risk to disease or cancer.
- Lard is usually the “secret” ingredient behind the most light and flaky biscuits and pie crusts.
- Try it for:
- frying foods – chicken, pork, steaks
- cornbread and breads
- seasoning cast iron
- frying eggs
- the perfect pie crust
- sautéing vegetables
- biscuits and scones
#2: Get Your Vitamins from your Food
Who wouldn’t want to get more of their vitamins from their food?
- Lard is high in the fat-soluble vitamins like:
- A : needed to maintain good vision, build immunity, body & hair growth, & reproductive health
- D: maintains strong bones & immunity
- E: an antioxidant, protecting you from free radicals, and
- K: blood clotting & bones
- Lard is the second richest source of Vitamin D, the “Happiness Vitamin, BUT only if it comes from pasture raised pigs. One tablespoon of lard from a pasture raised pig could contain 500-1,000 IU of Vitamin D!
- Pork fat is rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
- Omega-3s are a family of essential fatty acids that are a key component of your brain, the retina of your eyes, and many other body parts.
- They provide you with energy! I think we could all use more energy!!
- Can only get omega-3 fatty acids from what you eat! Your body does not make these!
#3: High In the “Good Fat” (CLA)
CLA is essential to our bodies. It’s been shown to:
- reduce cancer
- lower body fat, and
- improve brain function.
Sadly, the types of food that are high in CLA like raw milk, beef, butter from grass-fed animals, and yes, lard are typically ridiculed by conventional diet “wisdom”.
Every cell in our body needs fat.
- If you render your own, lard has NO trans fat.*
- Lard contains less saturated fat and ⅓ less cholesterol than butter.
- Lard is a healthy fat that is soothing and healing to your gut.
I bet you’ve heard saturated animal fats, like lard, are bad for our health? That’s why they created supposedly “heart healthy” vegetable oils and crisco?? Vegetables don’t make oil. Think about it. Have you ever heard of lettuce oil? Or carrot oil? Oil comes from grains, fruits like avocado and nuts.
“Vegetable” shortenings like Crisco, are made from cottonseed oil. Cottonseed oil must go through a refinement, bleaching, and deodorization process to remove gossypol — a toxic compound. Gossypol is linked to infertility, pregnancy problems, liver damage, and respiratory distress.
Unrefined cottonseed oil (the oil with gossypol) has even been used as a pesticide.
How is this good for us again? It’s not something you want to be putting in your body.
*Commercial pork lard is typically hydrogenated to add shelf life (Hydrogenated = trans fat).
#4: The most Amazing Soap & Skincare Products
No you’re not going to walk around smelling like bacon, but come on, is that so bad? Who doesn’t love bacon. LOL!
While the idea of rubbing lard on your body may not sound very appealing, think about this:
- Almost all commercial skincare products are made with some sort of animal fat.
- Lard locks in the moisture, but it is also high in the vitamins that help keep your skin healthy.
- Lard is incredibly gentle on skin.
- Lard has been proven to:
- Reduce fine lines and wrinkles.
- Tone and firm for a more youthful look.
- Even out color and reduce redness associated with rosacea.
- Reduce dryness associated with conditions like eczema
- Even out texture for a smoother, softer feel.
- Improve acne and reduce pores.
#5: Pasture Raised Pork is Sustainable & Good for the Environment
Raising pigs on pasture produces a sustainable source of meat while improving the health of the environment.
These happy animals enjoy a high quality of life bathing in the sunshine, grazing and foraging all while helping to aerate the soil and naturally fertilize the ground.
As opposed to factory farmed pigs who live their entire life inside metal buildings, on concrete floors, never once stepping foot outside.
It’s less wasteful. Using every part of the animal makes our food go much farther and honors the life of the animal.
Lard is typically more affordable than coconut oil, olive oil and other healthy fats.
Why Should I Use only Pastured Pork Fat?
Ever heard the phrase, you are what you eat?
Your animal is what it eats and the fat stores the worst of it.
Toxins such as antibiotics are stored in the fat that are fed to factory-farmed pigs.
So Let’s get started!
Plan a day for rendering your lard. It’s a simple process and doesn’t take a lot of concentration, so put on your favorite mystery series you’ve been dying to catch up on and get started.
How to Render Lard in a
yield: 4-5 QUARTS prep time: 1 HOUR render time: 5-8 HOURS total time: 6-9 HOURS
Rural Roots Ranch Pasture Pork fat
- 6 quart slow cooker
- wooden spoon
- jar funnel
- fine mesh sieve, small bottle size & larger
- 4-6 quart mason jars, 1/2, pint, or quart
- 6 qt yielded 4 quarts lard
- 8 cup glass measuring bowl
- 20+ cup large heat safe bowl
- Grind your pork fat or cut into ½ inch pieces but no larger than 1 inch. (If your fat is slightly frozen this is much easier).
If there is any skin or meat in the lard, you’ll want to cut as much out as you can. You want lard that is snow white in color and has little to no pork flavor. Leaving these bits could discolor your lard and make it smell/taste like bacon.
- Put the ground or cut fat into the slow cooker with the temperature set to low. Add about ¼ inch of water to the bottom of your crock pot to keep the fat from burning until it begins to melt. Don’t worry! This water will evaporate out.
Leave the lid off to allow the moisture to evaporate off.
- Depending on your slow cooker the rendering process will take roughly 6 to 10 hours.
- Within the first couple hours the lard will begin to melt, at this point make sure to gently stir the fat occasionally, breaking up any chunks into small pieces with a wooden spoon.
The slower, gentler you stir the fat, the more neutral in flavor and smell it will be. Stirring the fat pieces allows the fat to melt evenly.
- When the liquid fat turns clear and no longer has a cloudy appearance, the fat has rendered down. This could take anywhere from 5-8 hours depending on your crockpot’s size, temperature settings, and how much fat you placed in the crock.
- Turn the crockpot off. Let it sit about 20 minutes to cool.
- Carefully strain the lard with the colander into a large, heat-proof bowl. Do NOT use plastic — it may melt! (In the pictures, I use my heavy duty Tupperware bowl and it works great!)
The bits of pork fat you have left are called the cracklins. Because the ground fat is so small, you may not have cracklins leftover.
- Next, strain the liquid lard again using the larger fine mesh sieve into an 8 cup glass measuring cup, such as a Pyrex.
- Now, Place another small fine mesh sieve on your jars. It may be helpful to use a funnel depending on the size of the opening of your jar.
- Slowly and carefully, strain the lard from the large glass measuring cup into your glass jars leaving 1-inch of headspace in your jar.
At this point you should have strained your lard a total of three times.
- DO NOT put the lids on! Simply place a towel or paper towel over the tops of the jars and allow the jars to sit and cool until the lard has solidified. If you put the lids on the jars, you will trap moisture in which will make your lard spoil. If your house is very warm, the lard may not totally solidify. That’s ok. Just make sure it’s cool before storing.
- Clean the rim well, using a dishtowel dipped in distilled white vinegar to kill any bacteria and allow for a clean tight seal.
Storing Your Lard
Well-strained lard that has no bits of perishable fat remaining in it is shelf-stable. You can store it in a pantry, cool basement, root cellar, or in your kitchen cabinets without refrigeration.
Lard is still susceptible to rancidity due to exposure to air and light.
For best storage, I recommend storing in the refrigerator, or at least in a dark, cool place.
In the refrigerator where it will last virtually forever. Lard in the freezer will last for ages!!
You can also pressure can it with 10 pounds of pressure for 100-120 minutes.
- Rendering pork fat correctly ensures the lard does not contain a pork-like taste.
- Rendering lard slowly and evenly without over cooking it will create a clean, white color lard.
- Lard which is yellow in color is safe to eat; it just does not look as pretty and may have a strong pork flavor. Use this for frying.
- If you find a small amount of brown meat particles at the bottom of your jar, use cheesecloth or a paper coffee filter in your small mesh sieve and strain again.
- If all the water was not evaporated out or small bits of fat remain, black mold can grow in areas underneath, around the sides, or on top where water may have been trapped. If black mold appears, throw it out.
How to Make/Use the Cracklings
Place your leftover lard bits that did not render down in a frying pan.
Fry them until they are crispy brown.
You’ll learn why they are called cracklings! Hot lard cracks and pops everywhere. I would make sure to wear long sleeves.
Use the cracklings as breadcrumbs on your salad, use them in place of breadcrumbs for coating your meat or add them into your favorite cornbread recipe.
Think of them as an alternative to bacon bits! Great for topping salads and vegetables.
Store in the fridge until needed, then heat, crisp, and season with salt.
GET QUICK & EASY RECIPES
We want to help get dinner on the table quick and easily.
Share you’re email and we’ll put recipes in your inbox.