Saturday, February 20, 2010

Rendering Lard...

I've made it a habit now, for quite some time, to render beef fat. I was very blessed to get some 'happy' pork fat given to me a couple of weeks ago- and its been a great blessing! According to NT rendered lard from free-range oinkers, is supposed to contain vitamin D- woo hoo!
This is a pic of the box of fat as I received it.
I cut the pieces small enough to fit in the food processor and chopped them. I did not blend them until pasty as I sometimes do with the beef fat, because I wanted chunks of cracklings (gribenes) for cornbread.
Once I chopped it in the food processor, I tossed it in my extra large pot.
You can see below the chunks of fat along with the melting fat- that is the liquid and that is the gold which I seek!

I continued to melt it down, just as I do beef fat and then I drain all the clear liquid. which is melted fat, which is melted lard.
I took this off and drained after about 45 minutes when some of the pieces JUST STARTED to brown because I didn't want my lard dark.

After the lard is drained and cools, this is what it begins to look like :
looks like lard, huh?
It does look just like lard, except home rendered lard is not quite as solid, probably since you have no added 'stuff'!
These are all full of the first renderings lard; the pure lard.
I call it the pure lard because it is not brown at all, but white through and through.
Now, with the remaining fat, I rendered it again.
The reason, was to get these dark cracklings.
Below is a pic of them in the oven and as you can see,
there is yet more liquid gold coming from these fat pieces and the fat pieces are getting dark and crunchy. They taste just like pork rinds that you can buy in the store on the potato chip aisle but they are not quite that crunchy, in fact, no where near that crunchy.
Here are the yummy cracklings draining. I had several plates of these sitting all over the kitchen, draining. These nice dark and crispy cracklings were rendered in the oven.
Below is the 'lard' from the second rendering. You can see that it is darker and I labeled it as 'cracking lard'. You can still use it, but it seems to have more flavor so I will only want to use it in strong savory dishes or gravy!

This is some more fat, rendering for the second time, in the crockpot.

This is the cracklings draining from the crockpot rendering.
They did not get as crisp as the ones from the oven. They taste good, like pork skins from the store, yet they are very soft, almost melt in your mouth. Great in cornbread and you can use them to season other dishes and they still have enough fat in them to flavor cornbread and or toss them in potatoes and the like.
I bagged up all the cracklings once they were drained and cooled and tossed them in the freezer.
I made sure I marked the crackling lard so as to know that it was not pure white lard.
Now, what can ?
Well, anything you can do with store-bought lard or shortening. The flavor is prominent so it works great with all savory dishes. I've made some delicious biscuits with it! I've also sauteed and fried many, many things in it such as zucchini and onions.
Why go through the trouble? Well, according to NT, animal fat is better for you than any hydrogenated vegetable oil. The store-bought has questionable preservatives in it and you don't know how the little piggies were raised nor what they were fed.
And on the frugal side- this was given to me! Yah!
But- those who purchase straight from meat processors can ask for their fat with no extra charge as its normally tossed.
A big difference that I noticed between beef and pork, is that pork will give up a whole lot more fat than beef. That's a big reason for the second rendering, as well as a 'pure' lard.
I got 3 or 4 times as much fat out of pork.
Rendered pork fat is also a little thinner than rendered beef fat. It doesn't hurt anything, its just something I noted.
Happy Rendering!


Leah said...

Interesting process. I am wondering, how do you store your homemade lard? Is it shelf stable or do you freeze it?

Donna said...

I store the bulk of it in the freezer and only leave out one container at a time, at room temp.

I haven't had any trouble with the lard going bad.

I did have some trouble with beef fat once, but, it wasn't strained as well and had a few meat particles in it so I'm sure that's why --and so I've made sure not to do that again ;-)