How to Make Lard from Pork Fat
Save Money by Rendering Lard at Home
Leaning how to make lard is not only easy, but it saves money and is healthier for you than store-bought lard because you know where your pig fat came from.
I went to the local butcher shop and told them I wanted 20 pounds of raw pig fat. I was quoted $0.47 per pound. The total cost was $9.40. Why did I want to buy raw pig fat?
20 pounds of fat turned into 18 pounds of nice creamy white lard for $9.40.
When you look at the price of store-bought lard, you can see it is a lot more expensive per pound. And if you want ORGANIC lard, it is A LOT more expensive.
The price of vegetable shortening is expensive in comparison, no matter if you go with name brand for $2.84 per pound or generic for $1.52 per pound.
When you make homemade bread or pie crust, lard will give you a moist product with a flaky texture, not found with shortening.
Shortening is a very neutral product and does not add any flavor to bread or pie crust, but when you use lard, the taste just explodes. In fact, I had a contest that the kids didn’t know about. I made pie crust cookies (rolled out pie crust with a sugar/cinnamon sprinkled on it and baked until golden brown), had them try both of them without knowing why. The pan made with lard disappeared and the other one stayed until that was the only one left.
Since lard has a higher smoking point than other fats, foods that are fried in lard absorb less grease, (for example deep frying donuts, French fries, etc.)
Wait, isn’t lard just FAT? How can lard be healthy for you?
If the lard came from pigs that were pasteurized, the lard is very high in vitamin D. The lard in the store is usually from pigs that were confined, given antibiotics, and they were not in the sun. So the extra vitamin D is not in that lard.
Shortening has trans fat, lard does not. Lard has monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat, which are both associated with a decreased risk of heart disease.
Lard has over twice the monounsaturated fat when compared to butter and if the animals were free-ranged, they ate a lot more greens and not grain.
Since we love to cook and bake and want the best taste possible, lard is chosen over shortening, but should I buy it and save the work and trouble, or should I make it? Store-bought lard is more expensive. Also, I want to know how the animals were raised so I learned how to make lard in my own kitchen.
My local butcher will tell me where the pigs came from and I can go talk to the farmer and see how the animals are raised. Most farmers are proud to be raising pigs and have no problem at all talking about the animals. I started raising pigs for meat and lard so I can control the final product and I’ll know exactly what my family will be eating.
How Do You Make Lard From Fat?
Make the fat pieces as consistent as possible. This will give you more lard and less waste. The easiest way to do this is to put the fat into the freezer and when it’s nice and hard, run it through the meat grinder.
If a meat grinder is not available, you may cut the fat into nickel-sized pieces, roughly ¼” thick.
There are several options to heat the fat to render the lard out of it. Outside over a fire with a heavy-duty kettle is traditional, but it’s not easy to control the heat.
On the stovetop with a heavy-bottom pot is quickest, but unless you have a huge pot, you will have to empty it out before all the fat is gone.
Slow Cooker/Roasting Pan
I use the slow cooker/roasting pan as it is big enough to hold all the fat, and the heat is controlled by a thermostat (250-300 degrees F).
Some people put a little water in the bottom of the pan then put the fat on top of it. This prevents the fat from burning and as it boils, the water will escape. While most of the water will evaporate, not all of it will. This means you will have water inside the lard and that will cause it to go rancid faster.
Put a couple of pieces in the pan and use a wooden spatula (wood does not transfer heat) to stir the fat, stopping it from burning on the bottom.
Once the first couple of pieces are melted, fill the pan halfway up with the cut fat. Stir it once or twice a minute, making sure you move the pieces that are on the bottom to the top.
In a few minutes, the fat turns translucent as more of the fat renders into liquid. Once it renders out, you can add more raw fat to the pan.
The pieces that are floating on top are called “cracklings.” Basically they are harder pieces of fat and any meat that was attached. Many people eat this as is (with salt and pepper). Cracklings are also great to bake with. I like putting them in scrambled eggs with onions and peppers. Or if I happen to be making corn bread, these cracklings add a lot of flavor.
To separate the cracklings from the lard, strain through two layers of cheesecloth or coffee filters. The lard will run right through into your storage containers. The lard will be a light brown liquid. But as it cools, it will turn white (if the pig was not fed a lot of corn, it will be very white).
If you want to store your lard on a shelf, pour the lard into clean canning jars (leaving headspace) and screw on a lid. As it cools, it will seal the container. The lard will last for two to three years in a cool place (basement) using this method, as long as there is no water in it.
If you put the containers of lard in the refrigerator, they will last six months. If you put them in the freezer, they will last up to three years. Just make sure the lard is in a closed container.
Now that you know how to make lard at home, will you be trying it? If you’re an old pro, do you have any additional tips or favorite recipes you use your lard in? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!