We started raising pigs on our farm a few years back and they quickly became my MVA (or most valuable farm animal), and we increased the number we raised. With more pigs pigs come lots (and lots) of fat. Since pork fat is something I can cook with and don’t have to look for outside the farm, I love to render my own lard. It really helps me feel connected with the lost art of doing things yourself. And I’ll be honest and admit… I really enjoy snacking on the cracklin that I get from the pork fat!
Do I need any special tools to render pork lard?
Nothing special is required, though I will admit that having a grinder does come in handy. If you’re able to grind up your fat, it cooks down much easier and requires less attention during the cooking process. But, like I said, it’s not needed. You can comfortably get away with a pan, knife, cutting board, a metal strainer, something to stir with and a container for storage. And few newspapers or paper towels will come in handy for straining liquid lard from the cracklin.
How do you make your own pork lard on the stove top?
Since I’m living in a pretty small space right now, the easiest option for me is to render my lard on the stove top, and since I’m short on storage space at the moment, I prefer to make small batches of lard and store excess fat in the freezer until I’m ready to make a new batch.
If my pork fat has already been ground up (a habit I got into doing prior to freezing), then I just put it in a heated pan and start cooking it down. If it’s not been ground, then I simply dice it up before adding to the pan. The grinding or cutting of the fat helps the moisture to release better when cooking and also promotes more even cooking. This keeps burns from splattering oil to a minimum. Be sure to cook on a low temperature and don’t leave your pan unattended.
After the fat has cooked down and become all liquid, aside from the bits of cracklin that may be floating around, I turn off the stove and carefully (seriously – be extremely careful) strain the hot liquid through a metal strainer and right into your preferred storage container. I like to use canning jars since they are so multifunctional and I always have tons on hand. The stuff in the strainer, or the cracklin (also known as cracklings), can be set aside on some paper towels or newspapers to allow the lard to strain off, just like you would allow bacon to drain. I like to salt them and enjoy like bacon bits on salads or even pop a few into my mouth as a savory snack. And just what is cracklin, you ask? It’s nothing more than pork fat with a little skin still attached.
Once your lard is completely cooled, you can add a lid and move the jar to a convenient place for storage. Use you lard as you would another cooking oil; use it to fry up eggs or veggies, bake with, or grease your pans. You can even season your cast iron with pork lard!
Have you ever rendered your own lard or enjoyed cracklin? Have questions or tips to share?