When Ken and I raised pigs, I grew accustomed to rendering and cooking with lard. Before you say eeew, let me point out a few things: people have used lard for eons – it is not some created or highly processed oil or hydrogenated fat. If the pigs are outside it has the “sun vitamins” like D. I can use less and cook hotter than most other fats and oils.
A friend asked why one renders pork fat. After some thought I explained it as follows: lard is like the ghee of pork fat. When you fry a slice of bacon there is fat in the pan and some fat that remains solid around the meat of the bacon. Since my friend’s meat cutter had not run his pork fat through the grinder as our meat cutter did, I cubed it and trimmed off any meat.
Rendering lard on the wood cook stove is easy as the height is lower and rather than changing heat on burners, one just moves pans to hotter or cooler parts of the stove top.
The fat melts and turns beautiful amber color and the little solid pieces are called cracklings. Other people leave the fat as large pieces and eat the larger cracklings as we would potato chips – delicious. I like them small as I have a recipe from Ken’s mother for cookies!
Once the fat reaches 255 degrees all liquid is out and it’s time to strain and fill jars. I use canning jars.
As it cols the liquid amber lard becomes a lovely solid white. I store it in a dark cool place – my root cellar.