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Friday, November 14, 2014

Cut the Fat

Freshly made lard.
Okay, so cut the fat are three words you would probably not hear from a homesteader unless they were actually telling you to cut up fat. Yes, cut it into small cubes to put in the crock pot. Rendering your own lard is pretty awesome.

   Now, some people may have friends in high or low places but I have friends in farm places. I'm talking about my friend Steph at Tomcova Farm. I have lots of goat milk around here, but good quality pork and fat are not easy to find. I asked if she was interested in bartering soap/milk for fat that I could render into lard. This is good lard not the nasty stuff sold in stores. She insisted just letting me have the pig fat she had in her freezer. Much obliged!

I was so happy because these pigs are raised in a healthy way with no antibotics or steriods. They interact with a whole family of kids. I know their life was great before they became the yummy meal later. This is where I want my food to come from. When the lard that I use is not hydrogenated I feel a whole lot better cooking/baking with it. It can be used in pastries, biscuits, frying stuff and of course I use it in soap making. 

The rendering process is actually quit simple. If you have a crock pot and some pig fat you can do this at home too! 

The first thing I did was leave the pig fat mostly frozen (only partially thawed- for easier cutting). I cut the fat into cubes. I placed just a small amount of water at the bottom of my crock pot (to prevent initial sticking). I then put the fat cubes into the crock pot. After my crock pot was full I put it on the low setting. My low setting worked perfect but I have read to be careful that your crock pot does not run to high or low. You want the fat to start melting but you do not want to cook it.

I went to bed quite late that night so I left it for at least 6 hours before checking it in the morning. When I woke up and checked it it looked like clear yellowish liquid floating on top. Most of the cubes had started to sink. I drained the liquid with a spoon and poured it through a strainer into a jar. 

After I removed all the possible liquid I put the crock pot lid back on and repeated this process. Each time the small cubes got smaller and browner. I ended up filling 3 quart sized jars and 1 pint. We were left with all the little golden bits at the bottom. Of course I could not resist myself. We fried them up and  made crackling. Yum. Sorry no pics of that . . . I guess I'll have to do another post the next batch of lard I render. 

I stored it in the refrigerator which should keep well for at least a year. You can also freeze it.
If your interested in rendering your own lard I hope this helped!

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