May 16, 2011

How to Render Lard

Lard made from pastured hogs is an excellent source of Vitamin D. The only real food better for Vitamin D is fermented cod liver oil.  Why do we need this vitamin?  It is crucial for the immune system, keeping inflammation at bay, calcium absorption, and decreasing the risk for chronic illnesses.  Acquiring it in a whole food form (instead of synthetic) is the body's best way of absorbing it.

Not all lard is created equal.  I do not buy hydrogenated lard from the grocery store.  Hydrogenated fats are bad, bad bad.  Home rendered lard is a good fat.

Some friends of mine are buying 1/2 a hog from a farmer, and I encouraged them to ask for the fat back so they could make lard.  You can also obtain fat back from a meat market; however, you will not be sure of the farmer's husbandry standards or if the hog had access to sunlight (which makes vitamin D in the hog's fat).

This is a quick picture tutorial on how I rendered lard.

First, cut it into equal(ish) sized cubes.  Mine were about 2 inches square.  Emphasis on about.  Rendering lard is not difficult nor an exact science.  The hardest thing about rendering lard is being patient because done right it is rendered slowly.

After cutting in equal pieces, plop it in a big pot.  I think I had about 5 pounds.
Turn your stovetop on about 3, on a scale of 10.  The lower the temperature, the less likely it is to taste "porky."  A lower temperature also takes longer.
At first, you will need to tend to the lard with frequency.  You don't want the fat to stick to the bottom of the pan.  Stirring every few minutes is a good thing.
Once there's enough fat melted, it is not as important to stir frequently.
As time elapses, the fat back shrinks and the volume of liquid lard increases.  The hot lard appears golden yellow.
In the picture above, the fat back had been melting for about 8 hours and I was ready to go to bed.  If I'd started it earlier in the day, I would not have wasted so much - and the floating fat back pieces would have been smaller.  

When you're ready to declare yourself finished, carefully pour the hot lard through a strainer.  I used a paper towel to catch the pork pieces.  Some people like to bake these till crispy and eat them on a salad.  They are quite tasty.  I was ready to go to bed, so I just thew it away.  (Side note: if you're a Little House on the Prairie fan, Laura writes about begging her mother for these pieces.  To which her mother replied something like, "Oh they are too rich for children."  Translation: I want it all to myself! :)
Once the lard cools, it will be a lovely white color.  I store the jars in my fridge or freezer for at least six months.  By then, I've used it all - frying my falafel in it, making tortillas, frying potatoes, making  pie crusts, or biscuits.  Five pounds of fat back rendered about 2 quarts of lard.
This post is a part of Monday Mania with Sarah the Healthy Home Economist.

Related links:
Kitchen Stewardship has an excellent explanation on healthy fats.
Video from Sarah the Healthy Home Economist: How to Render Lard.
How to Render Lard and Tallow by Cheeseslave, who also includes directions for the oven or slow cooker.

share facebook tweet


  1. Love this tutorial! We are getting the beef fat from our cow in a couple weeks and I'll have to come back to this post so I can use it all!!

  2. What amazing timing! I am picking up a quarter of a pig this weekend and am of course getting the fat. I have never rendered lard before and this looks easier than I thought! By the way I found you on Monday Mania.

  3. I like to render my lard in the oven.

  4. Great post! I always wondered how to do this! Are you coming to the Arkansas Women Blogger conference? There are less than 2 weeks left to register! Check out our website to register soon! We hope you come!

  5. Freckle Face Farm (just outside of Searcy) has ground pastured pork fat available. I've rendered a good bit of it, and it's wonderful! No cutting up chunks, and because they have their butcher grind it, it melts and renders more quickly than cubes. It makes beautiful, white lard with no porky taste. Mitchell goes to the farmer's market at Pulaski Heights Baptist Church. Someone who knows the days for that may need to chime in here though.



Related Posts with Thumbnails