Rendering lard is not an activity you often see in an American kitchen these days. Even my mom, the farm wife, does not render lard. If she cooked with lard I didn’t know about it. So when it came to rendering the lard from the 3+ pounds of fat back in my freezer, I turned to the most obvious place for instruction: the internet, everyone’s second mom.
There’s lots of resources out there for learning about lard and rendering lard. My source for most of my meat, Nature’s Harmony Farm, keeps a blog that did a post on lard rendering. In fact, I believe that’s where I first became interested in doing it myself. But in my most recent adventure, Cheeseslave provided an excellent source of options for rendering lard. I chose the crock pot option since my oven and stove were both busy with other projects that day.
I cut up just over three pounds of lard for this endeavor. The fatback still had the skin attached, which I’ve run into problems with before with my bacon making projects. I’ve learned that the skin will do your bidding if you talk nice to it (AKA, cut against it not with it). So as long as I cut perpendicular to the skin, it was easy to chop up the fatback into small chunks. Ok, it wasn’t “easy.” I started cutting at 8:00 a.m. and had a small blister at 8:20. I just need to wear gloves. I’ve found that my cut-resistant glove is very useful for tasks like this.
Once all the chunks were in the crock pot, I put it on low. I really didn’t know exactly how long it would take. So I put it on ten hours and went on my merry way. About the time it was done, it looked roughly the same as it had at five hours. But it really did look like it had more to go so I left it a bit longer.
Finally I reached in with a spoon to stir the remaining chunks only to find that they were rock solid. They were almost crystallized and stuck to the bottom of the crock. Um…oops. I guess maybe it was done at five hours. Anyway, I’m
presuming that these crunchy chunks are what is known as “cracklins.” I bit into one and it was gross, like wiping my tongue with grease. I’m hoping that people who eat these do something else to them first, or maybe it’s just not my cup of tea. *gak*
Anyway, I ended up with about a pint and a half of lard for my efforts. It started out golden and translucent, then turned white as it cooled and solidified. Kind of cool!
A friend stopped by while I was
rendering the lard. In a totally non-judgmental way, he announced that lard was a primary cause of the health crisis in this country. I informed him that lard is a health food. As I further thought about it, how many decades has it been since lard was prevalently used in homes and restaurants and our health continues to decline? Yet people are still blaming lard and other natural fats for current health problems? Things that make you go hmmmm….
Anyway, while the scientists fumble over themselves and try to figure out
ways to convince themselves and others that we should be eating man-made foods for health instead of the foods that God gave us, I’m going to kick back and eat something with lard in it. If it was good enough for our ancestors, it’s good enough for me.