September 7, 2010

How to Render Lard

Yes, you read that right. I am rendering lard! Suzanne over at Chickens in the Road has convinced me that I MUST make soap! Considering that I have a large supply of goat milk from Miss Bella, I must make goat milk soap! I am hoping to have an end product that's something like Suzanne's Vanilla Sugar Dreams soap. I have to give credit to CindyP over at Chippewa Creek: Our Life Simplified for her help as well and for giving me the courage to try this! You can find both Suzanne and CindyP's blog buttons in the left sidebar.

The first step was to gather all of my ingredients and I quickly realized that I only had a pint jar of lard. I render my own lard from pork fat. This particular pork fat came from the meat hog we had butchered last winter. My mom helped herself to a large jar of my already rendered lard last time she was here so I'm running a little short. She likes to partake in the fruits of my labor. Last week she left with 2 dozen eggs, a quart of apple pie filling and 3 pints of various jellies but that's okay because I left her house Sunday with 2 quarts of pickled okra, 1 quart of dill pickles and a pint of watermelon rind preserves.

Just in case you ever find yourself with an excess of pork fat (or any other animal fat for that matter) it's not hard to turn it into beautiful, white, creamy lard. Lard makes the best pie crusts by the way. I don't use it much to cook much because of my cholesterol but I do use it for making suet for the birds during the winter and now I'll be using it for making soap.

As a child I remember the men in my Dad's family getting together each winter and killing hogs. My grandmother, mom and the other women would be stoking that fire underneath a huge cast iron kettle just waiting for the hog fat.

This what hog fat looks like right off the hog and thrown in the freezer...
Hours of cooking and stirring would yield lard and those little crunchy things called cracklings! How many of you ate cracklings while hanging onto your grandmother or mother's apron tail when you were a child?

I don't quite go to the iron-kettle-over-the-fire-pit extreme but I do cut up my tallow into 1/4 to 1/2-inch pieces, put it in my crock pot with small amount of water just to get it started.
It will take a several hours in the crock pot to completely melt the fat. I have also used the stove top method for quick rendering but you have to keep a much closer eye on it because it cooks fast. There's also the oven method. You put your cut up fat into a large oven-safe pot, cover with a lid and put in the oven. Set temp at around 300 degrees and leave until fat is melted then go to the next step. This method also takes several hours depending on the amount of fat and the size of the pieces.

However you choose to melt your tallow, once melted, strain the liquid off into jars, cap and store in the refrigerator.

Put the small pieces back into the pot and cook them a while longer until they turn into crunchy little cracklings. Drain the rest of the grease and put the pieces on paper towels to finish draining. You can use cracklings in cornbread, as toppings sprinkled on other dishes, etc.
Here's my rendered lard just starting to turn a little white at the bottom after cooling in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. By morning it will look like this.
Now I have plenty of lard for making soap. I plan on making my first goat milk soap tomorrow! Follow along and I'll let you know how it goes! Wish me luck!


Julie Harward said...

You are amazing..the only one I ever saw make soap was my MIL...awesome! :D

Jen said...

Cool! Cant wait to see your soap :)

Sandra said...

We made lard last fall when we had a hog butchering day here. A friend of ours brought his huge cast iron pot and we built a fire under it. We too kept the cracklings. I have never heard of anyone doing it in the crock pot, but I am sure going to do that. Lard makes the BEST biscuits and the BEST pie crusts!! Thanks for posting this.

Joe said...

Now this brings back memories!! When I was growing up we always butchered six to eight hogs every fall. We would have a couple of big kettles of fat to cook off to make lard. Never tried to make soap though. Really enjoy your blog. It is always bringing back memories of the good ol’ days.

Patrice said...

I'll be waiting to see how your soap making goes! I wish Suzanne's soap coaching had been around when we had a lactating animal around here(everything milkable is dry).

Kathy in KY said...

The gal I'll be farming with in Casey Co will be getting a slaughtered hog this Fall, and she wants to render the fat into lard. I'll have to tell her how you did it. We are thinking of making soap to sell at the farmers markets along with the produce we grow next year. I'm anxious to see how your soapmaking goes. I just read Suzanne's steps in making soap, and was going to print out her soap making recipe. She has such neat things posted on her blog. Thanks for posting about how to render the fat, I always wondered about that. And the cracklins look tasty. Take care, from Fayette Co.

Connie said...

MEMORY! I haven't thought about making lard in years, I have watch my mom and dad make lard to use,(back in the days) enjoy your story and can't wait to see your soap! did you get my address for the country Girl magazine, Thanks again and have a nice day!

Kentucky Farm Girl said...

Just checked Connie and I'm not seeing your email. Did you use the contact me link in the right sidebar? If you did then try sending it through this link.

E=mail Me.

Cindy said...

Can't wait for you to get hooked soaping! LOL!!! Once you use SoapCalc, your mind will be reeling with new ideas of soap!

tberry29 said...

Cool...will definately be waiting for the follow-up post on this. Yay we're makin soap! ; )


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