Homemade lard is a traditional way of taking fat and turning it into a very diverse and useful ingredient. Use of traditional lard is shown to improve heart health and reduce depression. This method will work with fat from any animal.
Check out my 10-part series on taking a full pig to a half pig! More videos about butchering to come. Click Here!
MATERIALS TO MAKE LARD:
You are going to need to melt the fat very slowly and at a low heat. So, a crock pot or turkey cooker works well for this application. Although, you can also do it in a standard pot but it is best to mix it with water to keep the temperature down.
- Crock pot, slow cooker, turkey cooker -OR- standard deep pot, canning pot works well
- Slotted spoon
- Coffee filters, old clean shirt, or cheesecloth
- Meat grinder (optional but makes things much easier overall)
- Mason jars or some other kind of container, including used yogurt or margarine containers
- Rubber bands (optional)
INGREDIENTS TO MAKE LARD:
Given that there are 2 ways of making lard, the ingredients will vary. But neither is uncommon difficult to obtain.
For the good old way of making lard you will only need:
- Pork fat
Thats it! Just pork fat to make lard. The reason for this is because all you are doing is melting fat.
For the other method making lard, you will only need 3 ingredients
- Pork fat
These recipes vary slightly for a few simple reasons which I will get to later on.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE LARD:
The steps and concepts of lard making are easy to grasp. Though people make it sound more difficult than it really is.
The few steps that we need to focus on are the following.
- Grind fat or cube fat into 1/2 inch chunks
- Melt the fat at a very low heat being careful not to burn it as this will give an off or porky taste to lard
- Ladle it into containers for storage, let it cool, and then use it for various different things
Now the way that you heat it up is going to be up to you. So, whatever you can melt lard in is good enough and you do not need anything fancy.
- Grind or cube fat
Here is how my setup looks.
Basically, I like to grind my fat because it breaks down the fat to a very small size. This will make sure that it melts quickly, evenly, and thoroughly.
I cut my fat into strips that will fit in my meat grinder. For my grind, I do once through the grinder on the finest grind that I can.
If you don’t have a meat grinder, this is where you can slice your fat into about 1/4-1/2 inch cubes.
At this point, you should be grinding up all of the fat that you are going to render.
2. After all of the fat is ground down, next is time to begin melting it
This will be a rather slow process. But I will be showing multiple ways of doing it so that you can do it one way or the other depending on how long you have.
TRADITIONAL WAY OF RENDERING LARD:
So the traditional way of rendering lard is simple. Place the fat into a pan and cook it down, and scooping out the clean lard as it melts.
For the traditional example, I am using leaf lard which is the cleanest and finest quality lard on an animal.
Put the ground lard inside of the turkey cooker and turn it on the lowest temperature setting. Then you will see the clean liquid lard start to separate from the pieces of membrane which contained the fat.
Of leaf lard, most of the original fat will melt into lard because leaf lard is such pure fat. Stir as needed to smoosh the clumps of lard. Smooshing the clumps will make the entire mixture melt faster and will improve the overall quality.
Once you have melted the entire batch of lard, strain the last bit into a bowl with a strainer in it. You will want to line this strainer with some kind of finer cloth to strain out fine particles.
You could use the following for the application:
- Paper towels
- Old shirt
- Large coffee filter
- China hat with liner
After all of the fat drips into the bowl, try to get as much out of it as you can. Even though a T-shirt is not the best thing to use, it does make this step very easy. With it you can squeeze all of the fat out easily.
Save what is left in the filter to fry in a pan to make sure you get out every last bit of lard in it.
Behold your easily made pork lard. Ladle this liquid into jars or container that you can store the lard in. It should be covered when stored.
HOW TO PURIFY LARD:
One we can speak of is just as simple and easy, but also faster and better in ways. We didn’t have to clean or purify the leaf lard because of its very good quality. But it does help to purify fat from elsewhere in the pig.
The flavor of other fat on an animal is not always as clean tasting as the leaf lard tastes. But it is still very good and clean of you do it right.
You can do it all at once or you can do it in batches. Make sure you get a good sized pot so you can do the most you can at once. Given that sometimes rendering lard takes a while, it is better to do it in as few batches as possible.
Fill your put until just under the rivets for the handles. You don’t want it to leak out of the rivet holes in your pot.
Add water to the lard. It should be about 1 quart for every 10 or 15 pounds of fat. Water quantity does not have to be specific because the water is going to separate from the lard later on.
Next add salt. Again, this does not have to be a specific amount either. Just make sure you don’t add more than about 1/4-1/2 of a cup per 10 pounds of lard.
Stir as needed to break up clumps of fat in the lard mixture. This will ensure that the fat is getting melted evenly, and consistently.
After a while all of your fat will be melted and you will have stirred your water and salt together the entire time.
The impurities in the fat will adhere to the water and salt and will separate from the fat.
With a slotted spoon, remove as much of the gristle as you can from the lard. This will make it easier to do a final strain.
Let the fat drip out of the gristle and move it to a bowl. Save this gristle so that you can render it down in a pan to get every last bit out.
At last, it is time to strain this liquid lard and place it into a bowl.
Pour it through a strainer that is lined with finer material to catch all of the small particles. Let it drip out and then squeeze as much of the lard out as you can.
Strain it all out and save the gristle left behind in the sieve.
Next place it in the refrigerator or leave it out on the counter to solidify.
The fat will float to the top and the water will settle at the bottom. The water captures the impurities.
Scoop the solid lard off of the top of the water and place it in a separate, clean container.
The layer of water at the bottom will range from gelatinous, to clear and clean as fresh water.
You can repeat the process of purifying the lard until the water comes out clean.
This water can be used in soups and stews. Or any other application that you want to add some extra flavor to.
If the lard is purified to your liking, it is time to go into airtight containers.
What you are going to use soon can be placed in the fridge, or left out at room temperature.
What won’t be used quickly can be placed in the freezer.
HOW TO STORE LARD:
Lard can be store in airtight containers such as:
- Mason jars
- Freezer bags
- Tupper ware containers
- Used containers from store bought goods.
Lard will stay good for the followings lengths of time depending on conditions:
- Room temperature- 4-6 months.
- Refrigerator- 1 year.
- Freezer- 2 years if wrapped properly with no air.
WHAT CAN LARD BE USED FOR:
You can use lard for a huge variety of things.
Due to its clean flavor leaf lard is generally used for:
- Pie crust
- Cooking fat
Lard from the rest of the pig has been used for:
- Heart healthy cooking oil
- Butter replacement
- Frying foods
- Soap making
- Pork fat- Ground or cut into 1/4-inch cubes.
- 1 quart of water to ever 10 pounds of fat (Optional).
- 1/4-1/2 cup of salt per 10 pounds of pork fat (Optional).
- Starting from whole chunks of pork fat, either grind them or cube them into as close to 1/4-inch cubes as you can. Grinding will allow it to render faster.
- Melt the fat around 225°F-250°F. Either on a stovetop, crock pot, or turkey cooker, set to low. Stirring occasionally.
- When all of the fat has melted out of the gristle, ladle the liquid lard into a fine strainer. Pour into jars or other storage containers.
- If you want to use the purification method, simply mix ground or cubed lard with water and salt and boil it together until the fat is rendered into liquid.
- Pour this mixture into a container to let it separate and cool. After it has cooled, separate the lard (on top) from the water and salt (at the bottom). Discard the water or use it for soup. Repeat this process until the water is clean and clear.
- Then pack the lard into containers for storage and use.
Leaf lard usually does not need to be purified, but you can purify it if you want to. Fat from the rest of the pig is usually the fat that I refine with the water and salt method.
Lard will last 2 years in the freezer, 1 year in the refrigerator, and 4-6 months at room temperature.
Ground fat is best for rendering but cubed will work if you don't have a grinder. Cubed fat is the method that most Americans used in the past.
I like to pack lard in glass jars if it is going in the refrigerator or if it is room temperature. I like to pack them in gallon freezer bags if they are going into the freezer. It is more malleable in freezer bags which is better for those with limited freezer space as it can be easily shaped to fit.