Rendered lard in a mason jar

Complete Guide To Rendering Lard For Cooking

Rendering Lard is the process of rendering animal fats such as pork fat into your own lard. Rendered lard is perfect for baking things like homemade pie crusts, biscuits, and cooking. 

Rendering lard is a wonderful skill to have tucked in your pocket, whether you are raising your pigs or are looking for a sustainable source of cooking fat for your pantry that can be stored at room temperature for a long time. Pork Lard is easy to make and when you make it yourself there are no cheap filler ingredients.  

Rendering Lard

The rendering process has been around forever, by exposing small pieces of fat to heat allowing the solid pieces to become liquid fat, and then straining any bits of meat out you get beautiful white lard for long term storage. 

Rendering lard is easy to do, and can be done in several ways depending on what best suits your needs and preferences. 

What Is Lard?

Lard is simply pig fat (or bear) that has been heated enough to enter a liquid state and separate from any connective tissue, tissue, or meat bits. The rendered fat is then strained to remove any crispy cracklings from the liquid lard. Once strained it’s poured into jars to cool.

When the jar of lard comes to room temperature it will turn an almost creamy white color. Lard turns to liquid at a temperature between 93-113 degrees F and will be a clear yellowish-gold color, depending on its purity.

Rendered lard in a mason jar

Lard is a versatile fat with a high smoke point and a great fat for baking things like:

Types Of Fat For Rendering Lard

Not all pig fat is the same, so there are three types of fat you should be aware of when it comes to rendering lard:

  • Leaf Lard

    Leaf lard or leaf fat is the fat that surrounds the kidneys. This lard is the best lard for baking and pastries. When leaf lard is rendered correctly, it is the most mild-flavored lard of the three and will add flakiness to all your baked goods. This is the lard we render and work with the most here at the Cottage. 

  • Fatback or Back Fat

    The fatback or back fat is located on the back of the animal as well as the shoulder and rump areas. It’s the layer of fat directly beneath the skin. This lard is the best for sauteing or frying food. The pork butt and pork shoulder are the portions of the animal that will yield the most lard.

  • Pork Belly

Pork belly is the fat that’s located right alongside the bacon. Because of its location this fat tends to have more meat throughout, it’s not the best choice for lard. We don’t recommend rendering it into lard, because it can be cured and cooked deliciously. Here is a great recipe for curing your own bacon.

How To Find Fat For Rendering Lard

If you aren’t raising and butchering your pigs, try reaching out to your local butcher. A local butcher shop in our town was able to connect us with a local farmer who raised pigs and had leaf fat for sale. Since then we’ve been buying it regularly so we can put freshly rendered lard into our pantry. 

Just as it’s important to know the different types of pig fat you are working with selecting the best pig fat for rendering Lard. You want fat from pigs that have been fed a healthy diet, preferably pasture-raised where they have had access to the sunshine. 

What You Need For Rendering Lard

Rendering Lard Two Ways

To start rendering lard you’ll need raw fat, pick which type of fat you want to use for rendering lard. Cut the fat into small squares, or run it through a food processor, or meat grinder to create small pieces. 

Rendering Lard Stove Top:

Using a clean, dry, heavy-bottomed pot and place it on the stovetop on LOW heat for the entire process.

Put a small amount of chopped or ground fat into the bottom of your cool pot and turn the pot on low, stirring constantly until the pot has a thin layer of melted fat across the entire bottom. Add more fat if necessary.

Add the rest of your fat and stir to coat with the already melted fat.

Stir occasionally to avoid scorching.

Continue cooking and stirring until there are no longer any bubbles and the cracklings are a nice light golden brown.

Scoop out the cracklings with a slotted spoon onto a plate covered with a clean cotton cloth or a paper towel to drain. 

Wash and dry glass jars and keep warm. Set the canning funnel in the still-warm jar, and the metal strainer in the canning funnel, and line with a clean cotton cloth, muslin, or a coffee filter.

Turn off the heat source. Carefully ladle the melted fat into the jar through the cloth and strainer to remove any remaining bits of cracklings.

Fill the jar and immediately cap each jar.

Rendering Lard In The Oven:

Using the oven for rendering lard is the method I use the most often. Place the fat pieces in a casserole dish, dutch oven, or cast iron pan. 

Turn the oven on to 300F. Place the filled pan in the oven. 

Keep an eye on it as the fat liquefies, remove the pan from the oven, and strain the liquid lard through a fine mesh strainer. 

Return the pan to the oven to continue rendering lard. 

When no more liquid forms in the pan, and the cracklings that remain become crisp you can remove the pan from the oven. 

Pour off any remaining liquid through a strainer and secure a lid on top of the jar. 

Storing Lard

Store your homemade lard in glass jars and place a lid on it. We like to fill our jars while the liquid lard is still very hot so that it will seal the jar. Store your jars in a cool dark place. If your pantry or kitchen stays warm, you can store your jars in a fridge or freezer. 

How much lard you get will greatly depend on the type of fat you use. You can save the cracklings to add to dishes such as beans to add flavor or feed to your chickens. 

Before you go check these out:

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