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Monday, March 4, 2013

Rendering Lard

Okay, this is way before my time but I saw one of my favorite blog ladies do a post on this and it inspired me greatly.  I feel like the people of my generation are so out of touch with how to live life like back in the day.  Most of us would be lost if something happened to where we didn't have access to a grocery store 24/7.  This post sort of hit home for me because it shows that you can be self sufficient and still live in the city.  

I know there are some of you that may think I'm crazy for this but I think it's genius and I'll be forever grateful for the knowledge that I've learned from doing this particular process.

You can use this lard as an alternative for your cooking oil and I've heard it's to die for when you use it to replace shortening or butter in your pie crusts.

First thing you need for this is pig fat.  I got mine at a local butcher shop for .99 a lb (I bought a little over 5 lbs) but if you know somebody that is butchering hogs, they may be willing to give the fat away.  You want to make sure you cut all the meat off the fat and set it aside.  (I keep mine and just toss it back in the freezer because you never know when you might need it for something else.) Cut your fat into 1/2 inch pieces and toss them in your crockpot.  Once you've got it in the crockpot, turn it on low and you'll want to stir every 15-20 minutes.

This is the gorgeousness that you will be cooking down AKA rendering. This process took me about 4 1/2 hours but it was well worth it.

Lard rendering

Once it's cooked down you'll start seeing all this liquid gold.  At this point you can grab a couple mason jars (for every lb of fat you'll have a pint of lard) and start straining it through cheesecloth or coffee filters and then ladling into your Mason jars.  This is what my set-up looks like:

Strainer lined with coffee filter on top of a canning funnel
Kinda ghetto?  Maybe, but it works!  

Here is what I ended up with.  1 quart and a little less than a pint of lard.  

The jar in front is a magical jar of goodies called cracklins'.  This is what's left at the bottom of your crockpot when there's no more fat to be rendered.  You can use these babies in cornbread or just sprinkle some salt on them and eat them right there.  

And there you have it folks!  A trip back to good ole' days!  

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