How to Render Lard
I love fried food. I love perfectly flaky crusts. I love the taste of bacon. I dislike most shortenings available at major grocers as partially hydrogenated oils are typically the first ingredient in them. By this point, everyone should be aware that trans fats aren’t good for you, though in my opinion, the hysteria surrounding it is blown a bit out of proportion as trans fats do occur naturally. In fact, with the public focused on trans fats, I’d be willing to bet the food companies are doing other things in the manufacturing process that will allow them to tout 0 Grams of Trans Fat! but ultimately be even worse for you. Seriously people, haven’t we learned anything from Olestra? Frito-Lay originally branded chips made with Olestra as WOW! and touted them as being fat-free/reduced fat: all the taste and none of the guilt…oh and by the way, they cause anal leakage! WOW! chips is right, as in WOW! I just sharted! The only way to avoid tricks food companies employ is to avoid their products as much as possible.
Sure there are substitutes for shortening–butter or vegetable oil for crusts, Pam or vegetable oil to line pans, and vegetable or peanut oil for frying–but I find lard is the most versatile of the substitutes.
So for the love of fried foods and pie crusts, I decided to render my own lard. Thankfully, Polyface had a post on how to render lard. Seemed simple enough and it was.
I ordered 5lbs of pork fat from Polyface. I also bought a 12-pack of wide mouth pint canning jars (the pint jars are available in-store for about $11). I picked up the pork fat from my buying club on Saturday and planned to render the lard overnight. Something came up and I had to be out for a while on that Saturday night, so I decided to start at 6pm.
I threw the pork fat into the Crock-Pot without doing anything – ideally, you want to chop the fat into bits and trim off the meat. I’m lazy.
I set it on low and let it go.
We got home earlier than anticipated and here it was at 9pm.
Not too appealing – the wife said it looked sweaty and gross. Additionally, the smell wasn’t sitting well with her since her Spider senses are super sensitive due to the pregnancy. So I turned on our kitchen vent.
Look at all the oil released after 5 hours. Despite our kitchen vents best efforts, the smell of cooked pork fat is permeating our home. Good for me; bad for her. I went to bed and told myself I’d wake up at 6am to jar the lard.
Crap! Three hours late… 😛
The pork fat was super crunchy and smelled delicious. Since I didn’t chop it up beforehand, however, I decided to chuck it (not to mention the wife was grossed out by it). I used a slotted spoon to remove any fat bits and I may or may not have eaten them. A cheese cloth would’ve worked well, but I couldn’t find it at any of the grocers near me. I let the liquid cool a bit then jarred the rendered lard and here it is!
Liquid gold! After refrigerating the jars, they turned a nice creamy white.
We used the lard to make Jamaican beef patties a few days later and it was amazing! It does add a bit of flavor, so I’ll let you know how a pie crust turns out, but I can’t wait to fry and braise vegetables with this stuff.