As a homesteader, I find myself doing a lot of things I never thought I’d do. I never thought I’d raise chickens or can fruit.
And I certainly never thought I’d learn to render lard, but last week I bought a pork half from Easter Egg Acres, in Ellicott. The fat can be used for cooking or for making soap, so I found instructions and set out to render the fat.
The processing plant vacuum seals the fat, just like all the other cuts of meat.
You need a sharp knife for the next step: cubing. You cut the fat into cubes for heating.
The cubes go into the pot.
The instructions said to add a little water, presumably to keep the fat from sticking. I added 2 cups, but I think it could have been done with 1/2 cup. No harm done. The water evaporates. It just took a long time to get started.
After about an hour on low heat, it looked like this.
The interesting sounds and smells got a lot of attention in the kitchen.
After about 4 hours, the cracklings were beginning to look fried and the pot was full of oil. It’s very, very hot. I stuck the thermometer in and it went well past its top temperature of 220 degrees F.
You’re supposed to strain it through cheesecloth to get all the bits out and make the fat a clean yellow. Since I didn’t have any cheesecloth, mine is brownish.
And I hear you can fry the cracklings into a good snack. I mashed mine, to get as much oil out as possible. Then I tried to fry them and it was obvious I don’t know how to fry. It got so hot that years of layers came off the old cast iron pan I was using!
I didn’t weigh it, but I think I got about 10 lbs. of lard from the experiment. It will save us some money in cooking oil and I feel good about making the most of what we have.
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