I finally got around to making some more lard last week.  I will tell you about my experience, direct you to more information on the web, and tell you about what I learned from this to do differently next time.

Fill the Slow Cooker with Fat

Here is my slow cooker full of fat.  Next time, I will grind the fat or at least cut it into very small chunks.  I will show you why in a moment. I know, some of you are wondering why in the world I would be making lard, aren’t you?  If you do a quick internet search, you will find many articles talking about the renewal in interest in and use of lard.  We have been told for years that animal fats are bad, we should cook with vegetable oils, right?  Well, as use of the vegetable oils has increased, so has the rate of heart disease.  Our ancestors ate large amounts of animal fats without the rate of heart disease, cancer and other health issues from which our society now suffers. Real foods are what kept them healthy, and real foods do not come in a box.  Real lard is made at home, it does not come from a shelf in the grocery store. Check out this post from Earthy Delights, or this post from Nourished Kitchen, and this one from Healthy Diets and Sciencefor more information.

Fat Heating

There are several methods of rendering lard.  Some people use a large, heavy stock pot in the oven or on the stovetop.  I was happy with the results I got from the slow cooker (set on low – this is important).   Some people don’t like the smell of the heating fat, but it did not bother me.  Our fat did not have a “gamey” odor in my opinion.

Solids Sink to the Bottom

As the fat cooked and the liquid came out, I found that my large pieces retained a lot of the liquid.  This is when I decided smaller pieces or grinding would have been a good idea.  I stirred the pieces and broke them up at this point to release more of the liquid, but it would have been easier and more effective to have done it to begin with. As the fat is released, the solids begin to sink to the bottom.  At this point it becomes easy to ladle off the liquid, and you can do so at any time.  I found that as long as I did not stir up the solids, I could ladle the golden liquid without needing to strain it.

Clear Golden Liquid Lard

You want your liquid lard to be clear,

Cooling Lard

then as it cools, it will turn white.  Overheating the lard will give a tan color. Here are three jars at various stages of cooling, from warm and clear, to cooling and cloudy, to cooled and white . It is important to remember that this is not the same product as store-bought, hydrogenated, shelf-stable lard.  This lard needs to be refrigerated.

Finished Product

It can also be frozen for long term storage. The final product, a white, solid lard, is wonderful to cook with.

We basically no longer cook with olive oil.  We use our lard, butter, and are trying to use more coconut oil (which makes great fried yellow squash, by the way.)