Now that you know why home-rendered lard is such a healthy food choice(read Part I here), we can get to the fun part...how to do it!
You'll need a few tools to get started:
- A crockpot
- A ladle
- A canning funnel
- A sieve or large slotted spoon
- Canning jars or something to store your lard in
You'll need at least a pound of organic pork fat(contact your local butcher). A pound of fat = a pint of lard. You want very clean, white fat. Most people will tell you to cut it up into 1 inch cubes or so (it's easier if you do this while the fat is frozen), but it's not necessary if you aren't interested in eating the 'cracklins' when you're done, or if you just don't wan't to take the time.
I put my pork fat in all it's uncubed glory right into the crock pot.
Add about a quarter cup of water to the crock pot before turning it on to keep the fat on the bottom from burning as the crock heats up. The water just evaporates, so it's not an exact science how much to use.
Turn your crock on high or low, depending on how much time you have and how hot your crockpot gets. You don't want to burn the fat, but you also want that lard rendered. It's a long process, so begin first thing in the morning. You'll want to check on it every so often, and maybe give it a stir. No worries. This is really easy and almost fail-safe.
Eventually, you'll see the fat turning to liquid. At this point remove the lid to allow any remaining water to cook off. This is when it gets really fun and gratifying...
You've got a nice amount of rendered fat, so ladle some into your prepared jars. Use a sieve to strain out any solids. Keep filling jars as the fat in the crock becomes liquified.
At first, the liquid lard will have a bit of a golden tint, but as it cools, it lightens to white.
Once you cool it in the fridge (yep, store it in the fridge) it becomes snowy-white.
Congratulations! You've got heart-healthy, beautiful, delicious organic lard!
Now, for some extra fun, make two pie crusts...one with crisco or butter, and one with lard(you will score serious brownie points with your family for making two pies). Do a taste test(don't tell them you made one with lard), and I bet the lard-based pie crust comes out on top.
I love to sautée just about everything in lard(lard doesn't oxidize like many oils at high heat, so it's excellent for frying), especially when I don't think coconut oil complements it well, like my more savory dishes. Put a dollop into your broth, melt some over your green beans...use it wherever you would use shortening, coconut oil, or butter. It's especially wonderful if you are sensitive to dairy or on a restricted diet like the Whole30.
(Yes, that is a real ad above...it just cracks me up!)
Oops! I almost forgot...
(Cracklins...I love that word! Makes me wish I was a Southern girl just so I'd be able to use it in my daily vocabulary with a nice soft drawl..."Y'all want some cracklins, sugar?")
So, for cracklins you do need to cube your fat before rendering to give you all the little pieces.
After rendering, you put them in the oven for about a half hour at 375 degrees spread out on a cookie sheet until they're nice and crunchy.
Honestly, I've never tried it...I just save the leftover cooked fat pieces for the dogs as treats(better than anything you'll buy, and good for them, too)...those dogs would jump to the moon and back for some cracklins!
Till next week, sugar ;)