Rendering Pork Fat ... Making Homemade Lard

Stay with me. That's right. I said rendering pork fat. Why, you ask? Well, recently I learned that traditional cooking fats are much healthier for you then modern, often hydrogenated, fats.

When animal fat alternatives were invented, the companies tried, with much success, to turn people off of animal fats and onto their new "healthier" margarine and shortening. Turns out that those hydrogenated vegetable oils (Trans Fats) are far worse for your health then any animal fat could ever be.
I was very surprised to learn the facts about lard. That's right... I said the "L" word.
-Lard can be an excellent source of Vitamin D
-Lard contains 30% less saturated fat then butter
-Lard contains 45% monounsaturated fat (the "good" fat) ... twice as much as butter
-Lard contains more polyunsaturated fat (also "good" fat) then olive oil

Here are a few great articles about using traditional fats, including lard.
Taking the Fear Out of Eating Fat
Lard: The New Health Food
Why Lard May Be Better For You...

**Do not buy the lard from the grocery store because it will most likely be hydrogenated for longer shelf life. Be sure to either buy rendered pork fat from a health food store or butcher that assures you that it has not been hydrogenated...or make your own**

I set out to make my own. I picked up a bag of pork fat the last time I bought pork and beef locally.

This bag is a bit larger then a gallon sized ziploc. I probably should have cut the fat into smaller pieces and trimmed the bit of meat off first. Maybe next time.

I filled my large crockpot with the pork fat and added about 2 cups of water to prevent the fat from sticking. The water will cook out later. I left the lid on until it started to simmer. I started the crockpot at 7am.....

Here it is at 2:45pm. I stirred occasionally. I kept it on low most of the day. You want to render it slowly and keep the temperature from getting too hot. Not a very appetizing picture, I know...

About 2 hours later when some of the pieces started to sink to the bottom, I decided to finish the rendering in my cast iron skillet in the oven. I thought this would be a great way to season my skillet and moving it into the oven would free up space so I could cook dinner. I put the oven on 250*.
Once the fat had pretty much finished rendering (sorry, forgot to take a picture of what it looked like), I started ladeling out the lard and passing it through a sieve lined with cheesecloth. I put the sieve over a measuring cup with a spout to make it easier to pour into mason jars.

Some people continue rendering the fat until the leftover "cracklins" are really crispy. They save them to add to cornbread and things like that. I didn't do that because I hadn't trimmed all the meat off of the fat at the start.

I put the mason jars into the freezer after they had cooled enough to handle. I've read that cooling lard quickly makes for better texture. I moved one of the jars into the fridge today so it would be easier to scoop out for recipes. I ended up with 2 very full quart sized mason jars of lard.

It turned out very white and smooth. Success!

In my next post, I'll tell you what I did with a bit of that rendered pork fat......