How to render your own Lard

If someone had told me a few months ago that I would soon be dedicating an entire blog post to the art of rendering your own lard, I would’ve called them crazy.

Yet, here I am today, dedicating an entire post to the art of rendering your own lard.

Oh, I’m not saying that I am an expert in the matter, far from there.

But ever since I got to read Beyond Bacon (which I highly recommend, by the way), I’ve been dreaming of having access to good quality lard so that I could cook and bake with it.

So I went on a quest to find me some good pork fat (because I hadn’t read the book prior to ordering my side of pork, so I didn’t ask for the fat) and proceeded to render me some lard. And I figured since I would be using it a lot in my recipes, I might as well share the experience with you so that you too, can stock up on this great, versatile and healthy fat.

Yes, I’m already in love and don’t know how I have been without it for so long.

And I haven’t even started baking with it yet!

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Now it is imperative, when selecting your pork fat, that you purchase the highest quality that you can get your hands on, since that is precisely where all the nasties wind up being stored.

That means if you buy fat from a pig that has been fed all sorts of nasties, you will be getting a concentration of those nasties in the fat that you will be rendering.

And you don’t want that in your body now, do you? You want pure, beautiful fat from a healthy and well cared for animal.

100% pastured would be best if you can find it, but if you can’t get your hands on it, make sure you at least get organic, hormone and antibiotics free.

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

This batch here I made with back fat, but you can also use leaf fat if you wanted to. The process is pretty much the same, although I found leaf fat to melt a little bit faster. Also, the lard from leaf fat is somewhat finer, a tad lighter in color and has less of a pork or meaty flavor to it, which makes it ideal for baking.

But both types are extremely suitable for cooking, though, as they can withstand pretty intense heat! Lard would be the perfect fat for deep frying, especially since it’s really not that expensive. If you look closely on the label above, you will see that $2.26 got me close to a pound of fat.

All in all, I spent $14.40 for 4 packages of back fat and 3 packages of leaf fat, which yielded a total of 13 cups of pure, top quality lard.

Oh, and I got Crispy Lardons as an added bonus, but we’ll get back to this later.

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Now, I chose to take the basic route to get the job done and used a simple knife to cut my fat. You’ll notice that the back fat that I got still has the skin attached and that is a little bit on the tough side, so I suggest using a very sharp knife and getting a very good grip on it. This will require quite a bit of pressure and you don’t want to end up hurting yourself.

I personally haven’t been able to find any, but I know for a fact that this also comes in sheets with the skin removed, which would no doubt make it so much easier to chop.

But the thing is, you see, that skin becomes so puffy and crispy after spending a great deal of time frying in its own fat, it’s insanely delicious.

But we’ll get back to this later!

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

After you’re done cutting the strips, you want to cut them again into tiny little dice.

Make sure you keep your pieces as tiny as possible,too for the smaller they are, the more fat you will render.

You could even pass them through a meat grinder if you have one, or throw them in the food processor and give them a couple of spins on pulse.

Make sure you work in small batches, though, for this stuff is really stiff and you wouldn’t want to end up burning the motor!

And don’t go too small either, ‘cuz then the lardons might not be quite so yummy!

But we’ll get back to this later…

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Throw all your fat in a large stockpot and put it to heat slowly, delicately, over medium heat.

Lard will burn fairly easily and you do NOT want your precious fat to burn, so don’t go set the temperature too high in the hopes of getting the job done quickly…

That’s NOT the way it goes… This is a food of love, guys.

Slow and low, that is the tempo!

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

At first, you’re going to feel like this is going nowhere. The fat will only very slightly melt and become a tad more translucent. It will remain like this for a little while too, say 5 to 10 minutes.

Just stir the fat at regular intervals and keep a very close eye on it.

Do not despair, this WILL happen eventually. I guarantee it.

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Then, slowly but surely, you’ll see a small amount of liquid fat starting to appear at the bottom of the stockpot.

Some of the beautiful fat is finally being rendered!

Keep stirring and after a few more minutes, you will see the level of liquid fat slowly start to raise.

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

It would be a good idea to strain that rendered fat regularly, just in case you would inadvertently burn it somewhere down the road.

This would at least insure that you don’t end up burning the entire batch.

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

This is the point at which I decided it was time to strain some of that fat. I was probably about 30 minutes in the process.

You might feel more comfortable starting to strain sooner, or you might feel confident letting it go a little bit further.

But remember: the more often you strain, the less you run the risk of ruining your batch of precious lard.

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Strain the liquid fat through a fine meshed sieve. I opted to line mine with a piece of cheesecloth to make sure I got all of the tiny little brown bits out, even the minuscule ones, but this is entirely optional.

A fine mesh sieve alone will suffice, if you don’t have the cheesecloth.

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Put the fat back over the heat source and continue cooking over medium heat.

The lardons will start getting smaller and turn golden brown as the fat is becoming less abundant.

They are literally starting to fry in their own fat.

That is not a bad thing, but when that starts to happen, you might also want to start straining more often…

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Eventually, the lardons will become somewhat dry and will stop rendering fat. They will only get darker, and will start to smell real good.

Make sure you don’t let them burn!

‘Cuz these things are GOOD! Whatever you do, do not let them go to waste.

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Eventually, they will just completely stop to render fat at all.

At that point, the skin will start to puff up, almost as if it were popcorn.

And THAT’s when we get to the Crispy Lardons!

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

This, my friends, is just crazy delicious. It’s like Pork Fat Popcorn.

Just sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on these puppies and get ready to have your mind blown.

Of course, though, you’re not going to want to eat all of these in one sitting…

Apparently, they will keep in the fridge for quite a few weeks, so you can save them and enjoy a few pieces here and there with your meals. They reheat very well in a pan and go very well alongside your morning eggs!

Also, I like to throw mine in the food processor and turn then into the tastiest, crispiest fat I’ve ever eaten, which I then add to meatballs and beef patties. They add so much flavor, it’s not even funny.

I’m sure I’ll find a million use for them and will run out of those WAY before I run out of lard…

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Once you’re done snacking on the crispy lardons, it’s time to transfer your strained fat to clean glass jars.

Look at how pure, how beautiful!

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

After a few hours, your lard will set and turn beautifully opaque.

Honestly, I never thought I’d ever think of lard as being “pretty”, but looking at this, I have to admit that it sure can be a lovely thing to look at!

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Can you imagine yourself cooking with this?

It immediately became my favorite cooking fat.

Can you blame me?

Render your own Lard | by Sonia! The Healthy Foodie

Oh, I so can’t wait to start baking with this.

I get the feeling that my Christmas menu will be particularly copious this year… thanks to a freezer full of pork and cupboards full of lard!

So be on the lookout for tons of glorious, delicious and most of all, nutritious Holiday recipes!

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Comments

  1. says

    I render my lard in the oven at a low temperature… works really well if you are only doing small batches.

    I have even used the skin/fat that came on the ham I got last time I ordered half a pastured pig. That made the most delicious fat – something between lard and bacon drippings.

    • says

      Sounds like a great idea! I might give it a try if I ever make a small batch. And your rendered fat sounds heavenly. I can’t wait to try my hand at making my own bacon and ham… I need to eat more pork so that I can order a new one! ;)

  2. Susan says

    The Healthy Foodie rendering lard. Hmmmm… I guessing you’ve done some research on the healthiness of it, and I would be interested in knowing what you found out. After all, lard is traditional in tortillas, which I make frequently. Thank you for posting such a detailed tutorial on the rendering process. I’m certain that your end result would be much better for us than the commercial stuff, which I won’t buy. :-)

  3. says

    My husband went boar hunting this past weekend and came home with the meat AND the fat…I’ve never been so excited about fat! He has boar hunted for years but we only educated ourselves on REAL FOOD in the past couple years so this is the first year he remembered to keep the fat! And his dad gave us the fat from his pig too, I think we will end up with about a gallon total.

    Really looking forward to these crispy lardons, especially to add to meatballs/patties etc. Have you found any other uses yet?

    • says

      Oh, lucky! What I wouldn’t give for a hubby who brings home wild game! Boar has to be incredibly tasty. I can already imagine all the delicious Christmas recipes I would come up with if I had all that meat and fat on my hands.

      As for the crispy lardons, apart from munching on them from time to time, I must say that I haven’t yet found any other uses for them. But they DO add a great deal of flavor and moisture to patties and meatballs. I figure they must be totally glorious in a meat pie! I think I’ll save a bunch and give that a try myself… :)

  4. Crystal says

    Great tutorial! We rendered lard last night, and mine didn’t all come pure white and they are not all odorless. Is it possible to re-render this? I am afraid we may have burned it? We found mixed instructions and we not sure how long to let it boil, and at what temp, etc. It seems so easy, we were over-thinking it! Now I wonder if this lard we have is able to be boiled again, or if I should start over with a new batch?

    • says

      What’s the color like, Crystal? I’m thinking you might have burned it too, and if that is the case, unfortunately, there isn’t anything you can do to unburn it. You’ll have to start fresh with a new batch of fat.

      • crystal says

        Thanks! They are all shades of white, but nothing is snow white. One or two is even beige-ish. Bummer. I will try again soon. Can it be made into soap? (If someone doesn’t mind bacon flavor?)

  5. Christina says

    Cubans love chicharrones! Chicharrones are what you call “lardons,” but I have always known them as “chicharrones.” They are so, so delicious!

  6. Deborah says

    Hi! I was wondering if you can make lard from any type of fat, or if it only works with pork? Thanks in advance for any answers!

    • says

      Lard specifically refers to pig fat, Deborah. You can render the fat of other animals, that’s for sure, only it wouldn’t be called lard. In most other instances, i.e. beef, lamb or horse, the fat is referred to as tallow.

  7. Cecy Kuruvilla from South India says

    What a delightful experience rendering lard using your method! So happy that I have a pig farmer who gets me excellent fresh pork right here in vegetarian country!
    Thanks for the detailed instructions and pictures- great help and the lard is beautifully clear.

    • says

      Thank you so much for taking the time to leave that great feedback, Cecy. I really appreciate that. Glad the instructions did the trick for you and that you now have beautiful healthy and heat resistant fat to cook with. :)

  8. Sarah B says

    This past weekend we butchered hogs with my husband’s family. I saved the fat back from our pig and some from several others (almost 15 POUNDS TOTAL!!). So this morning I followed your directions for rendering lard, and just want to say thank you! It turned out perfect! Although I may have gone a little lower and slower than I needed to, it took over an hour for the first batch. Needless to say when the zombie apocalypse comes, I’ll be ready. LOL!! :-P

    • says

      That’s just great, Sarah! Seriously, you won’t have to worry about a potential shortage of healthy cooking fat happening in your household anytime soon… but hey, lard doesn’t go bad, and it’s the best fat for deep frying, too! So now you’ve got your freezer full of pork meat and your cupboards full of lard. Lucky you! :)

  9. Leah says

    Looking forward to trying this with your directions. The last time I made this I canned the lard and didn’t like the result so I’m excited to try this way. I’ve read that one thing that will spoil grease is water. Just wanted to add that for anyone storing the lard.

  10. Erin says

    Forgive me if this is a silly question, but when you put the lard in jars are they supposed to be sterile and then processed in a water bath? I’m not sure if I should “can” this or if it can just be put in a clean, but not boiled and sterilized jar.

    Thanks, I have about 10 lbs of lard to render. I’m excited for baking goodies with it!

    • says

      There is no such thing as a silly question, Erin! The jars need not be sterile, but really squeaky clean. I like to put mine in the dishwasher before I use them for projects such as these. No need for boiling, canning or sterilization. Just good cleanliness.

      And 10 pounds of lard?!?! *swoon* This foodie is quite jealous! ;)

  11. Erin says

    Hi Sonia,
    Thanks so much for the response. Rendering the lard was easy and a total success, thanks to your detailed instructions :)

    I made a Mulberry pie and used a lard pie crust. It was an amazing, flaky crust full of flavor! I can’t wait to bake more, thanks again!

  12. Elizabeth says

    How do you store your crispy lardons? Also, an you freeze the crispy lardons to keep them longer? Do they thaw well?

    • says

      I’ve never tried freezing them, Elizabeth, but seeing as how they are pure fat, they do keep for a fairly long time (i.e. months) in the refrigerator, so I don’t really see a need for freezing. I just keep mine in an airtight plastic container way in the back of the fridge and they’ve been doing fine!

  13. JR says

    Hello! I was wondering, what happens to the fat if you burn it a little (i.e., it’s a pale brown color instead of clear in the pan)? Is it just the flavor that is changed, or is its usability/shelf life disturbed? I have some bacon fat I just cooked off, and wondered if I can still use it. I assume I would just be dealing with bacon-flavored fat instead of a less flavored fat. (Mmm, bacon!)

  14. Tigga says

    My husband had high cholesterol BUT at the same time we began a paleo diet (gaps) for my son.

    After a year of eating butter/pork fat my anxious husband went to get his cholesterol tested:

    His cholesterol had LOWERED!!!
    The food pyramid is a lie folks.
    Enjoy yr organic pork fat! We just fry it up and pour through a small sieve sitting on the jar lip.

  15. derrick westwood says

    Thank You very much for your reply .Your complete article on rendering lard was so informative , especially the pictures.

  16. raylene says

    My mother and I were just talking about how my nan used to render her own lard. I’m so excited to try this.

  17. Eli says

    Where do you get the pork back fat? I have been looking for years but cannot find a decent thick pork back fat here in Sacramento. Any ideas what stores carry it?

  18. Shirley Linkous says

    After you get the liquid fat, do you keep it hot and put in hot jars like canning? I’d love to do this. Please let me know. Thanks.

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