Rendering Lard

Hello out there! I got swept away from updating our beloved website for a while. . . by life and all its demands. I’ve missed writing Farmlet posts! It feels like high time to be getting back to writing regular updates again.

I’m breaking my long silence with a few words about something very dear to my heart: lard.

We were lucky enough to find a source of local free-range pork fat. Finally! I was actually given this precious fat for free because nobody else wants it. The farmer told me he doesn’t kill many fat pigs any more, except for the occasional older sow. He and his wife now aim to breed and raise lean animals, which are preferred by the “health conscious consumer.” This is a sad state of affairs for those of us who recognise lard as a delicious, nourishing and healthy food.

Straining the lard

I decided to try rendering batches of lard three different ways: stovetop, oven, and slow cooker. The slow cooker (crock pot) got the thumbs down. My usually-reliable recipe book claimed that much of the fat would have liquefied after 4 to 5 hours on low heat in the slow cooker. I left it for three times this long and still felt that I was wasting too much of the fat due to incomplete rendering. Both the stovetop and oven methods worked well, though.

How to render lard

I used about 2kg of pork fat for each batch (belly fat is especially good), cut into small pieces.

Put it in a large enameled cast iron casserole (any heavy-bottomed pot or casserole with a lid will do) with about 1/4 cup of water.

Add an onion and a handful of herbs if you want to give your lard some extra savoury flavour. We rendered some of our lard with onion and herbs and kept some plain.

Heat the casserole on the stove (over medium heat) until the fat is cooking nicely. Then turn the stove down very low or transfer to an oven preheated to about 140 centigrade.

Cook for about 4 hours, or until most of the fat has turned to liquid.

Strain the lard and cool it a little before pouring it into glass jars. I warm the jars before pouring in the lard, so that they don’t crack from the heat of the hot fat.

Let the lard cool to room temperature before storing it in the fridge or freezer. Lard should keep for a few months in the fridge, and will stay good for over a year in the freezer.

Please be very careful handling the hot fat!

13 Responses to “Rendering Lard”

  1. ms lottie says:

    So how do you use your lard? I’m of the oil generation and I’ve never cooked with it, and never saw my Mum cook with it either.

  2. Kylie says:

    Great to see you back ! Was so excited to see this new farmlet post on your home page 🙂 You are very lucky to have found a local source of good pig fat! I was very lucky for a while and also got mine free from an organic butcher, sadly they went out of business a few months ago, and I have yet to find another Auckland source!

  3. farrah says:

    I’m a big fan of your site and so glad to see you back writing posts!!

  4. ej says:

    yum… good stuff

    I was at the butcher’s the other day, getting my complimentary bones and fatty off-cuts for broths and stews (can’t believe no-one wants that stuff!) and the old butcher went on a tirade about how everyone’s sick these days because they get the all the fat cut off the meat they buy. I couldn’t disagree, of course. It was surprising, in a good way.

  5. Paul says:

    I think this is what my family used to call “dripping”. I remember us getting several packets of it every time we got a beast homekilled – though this was beef. I also remember my grandmother having a pot of it in the fridge, from which she would take a chunk and melt in the frypan or oven dish for cooking with. Once the cooking was done she would strain it straight back into the pot (on top of the other already-set dripping for re-use next time…

  6. stephen says:

    my mother grew up on a dairy farm during the Depression, and she refused to have beef dripping in the house. but i can see the argument in favour of pork dripping, from pigs that have been reared in a healthy way. i assume you use it for various types of frying and roasting? what else do you use it for?

    one thing i miss is roasting whole chickens or legs of lamb because you can drain off the liquid at the end and put it in the fridge to use for gravy for your next roast.

  7. Eileen says:

    Hello Becky,
    I enjoy your out of the box thinking on foods so much.
    Lard. Holy crap.
    That the lard of any healthy animal is a GOOD thing is a kind of blasphemy anymore. Snort.
    I pour off the fat – the little amount there is from my grass fed beef – into a storage container.
    I’ve had a duck in the freezer for a long time now. Have to cook it off to make room for the meats I’ve purchased for storage this winter.
    I am a fan of crispy Duck. I think I’ll have a LOT of the duck oil to store for future cooking.
    Thank you for going where no one has gone before re LARD.
    I also think its a GOOD thing!

  8. Rebecca says:

    Thanks for all the comments. What do we use our lard for? Frying and roasting. (It’s especially yummy for cooking your traditional fried breakfast.) It’s a good stable fat with a high smoke point. It also goes really well in sourdough crackers and pastry.
    I’ve used beef dripping(tallow)for cooking as well, and we like it ok. We think pork lard is much more delicious, though!
    Enjoy that crispy duck, Eileen! It sounds very tasty.

  9. MMP says:

    Animal fat is a precious thing. The animals we raise and the pigs we buy are all pastured raised, so there is not so much fat on them. But it’s nice to have an alternative for cooking with butter, especialy since we can’t produce our own butter.

    We rendered lard this year also. If we don’t ask for it special, the butcher will keep the fat from our annual pig. We got the pig fat this year and rendered for lard in March. Since we have a cookstove running most days in March, we used the oven method and were happy with that. We rendered nine pounds of fat and we are just finishing the fat from that batch. Fall is progressing just fast enough that it will be cool enough to start the woodstove again soon.

    We got a bunch of beef fat from a friend this fall and we are looking forward to trying tallow.

    Most of our use also goes into breakfast. Eggs fried in lard (and a bagle or toast too!). Doesn’t get much better. We also use it in pie crust. We got the tallow at least in part to make soap. I am sure we’ll also use some in cooking. Luckily, we have the other half of this years pig fat in the freezer waiting to be rendered.

    Glad to see you are back, it was a long absynth.

  10. Stephen says:

    Hi Rebecca
    i have looking for lard, but now in NZ can’t get
    help me to get lard as it is good as olive oil reach in vitamin D

  11. Rebecca says:

    Hi Stephen,
    My suggestion would be to get some pork fat/ pork trim from a good butcher (Good luck with this step!), and render some for yourself.

  12. Natalie says:

    Thank you Rebecca, I’ve just made my first batch of tallow using your lard instruction. Worked a treat. I rendered about 3/4 litre of fat from filling my 5 litre pot full of beef fat. Finished fat is so beautiful sitting in the fridge in glass jars. Oh and the roasted potatoes cooked in it are wonderful!

  13. Astrea says:

    Hi, I would like some organic pork fat (lard) to make some rongoa (Maori medicine) for my family. I am in the Wellington area. Any suggestions very much appreciated. Best wishes, Astrea