Friday, October 23, 2009

Making Lard

Whenever we, or someone we know, have a pig slaughtered we always ask for the fat to make lard. Rendering lard is quite easy and nothing makes better doughnuts than homemade lard.

We follow the directions in Stocking Up: The Third Edition of America's Classic Preserving Guide
Start with your pieces of fat and cut into 1/2" cubes. Put about 1/4" inch of water in a large heavy bottom kettle and add your cut up fat to it, being careful not to fill the kettle too full; it is better to add to it as it cooks. Keep the burner on as low as it will go. A wood cook stove works well for this, as you can slide the kettle around to get the heat you want. You want it to melt, but not scorch.

fat to turn into lard

It takes a very long time for the fat to melt; we have been as long as 4 days to get all our fat cooked. Be sure to stir frequently to mix in the new fat and to keep it from sticking. Patience is needed.

As the lard renders, the cracklings, which are the pieces of fat that do not cook down, (why, I do not know) will float to the top and eventually sink to the bottom. That is when it is time to jar your lard. (The temperature will be about 255o F)

Sterilize your jars, strain the cracklings, and pour the strained lard into your jars, filling to the top. Chill as quickly as possible to produce a finer grain shortening (we set our jars outside….for us, lard making is always done in the fall for a few reasons; it is usually the time people slaughter their pigs, the wood stove is going and it is cool outside)

Store the finished lard in a cool dark place.

Many people enjoy the cracklings (the part that didn’t cook down that was strained off before bottling) and eat them with some salt or as bacon bits. We haven’t really enjoyed them too much, but are still hoping to find a use so they do not go to waste.

Lard, the finsihed product


  1. I'd love to find a local supplier who has real lard, as a replacement for shortening. About the only thing I use it for is greasing my baking pans, but I have had occasion for other uses.

  2. I know it is very hard to find. We use it for cooking steaks, vegetables....all kinds of things. I was afraid the food taste would chnage because of the lard, but it doesn't.

  3. Hmm, this is interesting. We have a great family butcher who would be willing to give us just about any part of an animal we want. We've currently got him working on our T-bone steaks and our bird for Thanksgiving. T-bones in Germany are still are rarity! :)
    Might consider doing this in my outdoor kitchen. I dread to think what goes into the shortening they sell here in stores. I mostly use it for baking cookies of all sorts. :)

  4. I was surprised the first time I rendered the fat just how easy it was. Now I'd hate to be without it!