How to Render Lard

| 6/27/2011 8:38:31 AM

Tags: real food, lard, Karen Keb,

chopped fatSince reading Nina Planck’s Real Food, I’ve been a 100% convert to “real” fats. No more so-called “healthy” canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil or safflower oil. Planck documents that these oils are relatively new industrial creations, and are the real cause of obesity, heart disease and all the other modern diseases we Americans have been plagued with since switching to an industrial diet in the 20th century. These oils are present in just about every processed food on grocery store shelves.  

liquid lardAs it turns out, there are all sorts of things our bodies need in traditional fats like lard, beef tallow, and butter, and Planck gives us the research, the science, and the dissenting views in her book. Most disturbing is how margarine is made and what’s in it—metal particles, rancid vegetable oil, soaplike emulsifiers, and bleach. I’ll stick to sweet cream and salt, thanks, which are the only ingredients in real butter. I’ll never touch margarine again (more cleverly disguised as “buttery spread” and similar), and living in the Midwest, that’s not an easy thing to do if one dines out ... ever.

So, I’ve begun to render lard from the kidney fat from our own Mulefoot hogs, which comes back from our processor all chopped up in a big bag and ready to go, so I don’t have to mess around with a food processor. Here’s the simplest way to do it:


1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.

2. Fill a large roasting pan with the chopped fat.

frozen lard3. Roast slowly for 30 minutes to 1 hour until the fat has melted and you have protein particles floating on top.

cygnia rapp
3/27/2012 9:51:25 PM

Does this work for suet from game meat (elk, deer)?

trudy prynne
3/27/2012 9:51:20 PM

I always save goose fat from our Christmas goose like this, perfect for best roast potatos

donald mokelke
3/26/2012 2:58:55 PM

I was happy to have just read the comments written with such friendly civility and will try to follow your good example by being a helpful newcomer. Thank you for the very enlightening comments about this topic that has interested me for some time.

karen keb
7/21/2011 8:37:14 AM

Check out this British site that explains what is in margarine and how it is made commercially:

sandra socolick
7/14/2011 6:05:11 PM

I tried searching for more information about what's in margarine. The only thing I found on an internet search was a very biased essay... Any ideas, BESIDES the mentioned book, where I can find out more?

7/3/2011 10:15:40 PM

When we processed our hog last fall, I rendered more than just the kidney fat. The back fat also makes a nice lard. I used very low heat on my electric stove and a big stock pot. Right now I can't remember if the clearest (then the whitest once chilled) was at the top or the bottom, but I know that I filled many of those square freezer containers, and gave them labels like "rather nice lard" and "kinda porky lard." The porky lard is wonderful for frying eggs, sauteing greens or making crust for a savory pie. I save the really white lard for fruit pies (most recently, rhubarb custard--yummy!). Home rendered lard is notably softer than butter, which is an indication that it is not as saturated. Lard is rich in vitamin D, something that all the nutritionists are saying Americans don't get enough of.

carmen ortiz
7/2/2011 7:20:22 AM

Yes, I render fat. BUT I don't have a problem with olive oil or sunflower oil. What I have a problem with are broad statements such as "olive oil and sunflower oil are bad for you" just because the expert de jour says so. There is a huge difference between that and "the way commercial companies render those oils, is bad for you". I suffer(ed) from fibromyalgia to the point that I had to crawl upstairs to my bedroom due to the intense pain. I read in a website by and for people with the condition that the use of virgin olive oil helps. For me it was a miracle cure, I still can't be touched but I have no problem walking or living a normal life by just adding olive oil to my diet. (Never took medications.) So I DO NOT agree with "this is a fragile oil with no particular health benefits". Perhaps the best option is telling people not to buy the commercial product but instead buy the one made by traditional methods.

kristina lefever
7/1/2011 5:14:01 PM

I just recently rendered lard for the first time. I haven't used it for pastry yet, but its great for sauteeing and in cornbread. But an easier method-and cooler-is to use your crockpot. Let it render over about a 12 hour period. And, another fat I use a lot of and highly recommend is coconut oil. Some are better than others. The really expensive stuff is for your face/skin and eating straight out of the jar!

the old geezer
7/1/2011 3:37:10 PM

To the folks with inherited lard presses. They are very easy to use. If I still had my collection I would send detailed. Happily, they are all back in services as "newfamily heirlooms. Can it and cut to the chase. I grew up with these wonderful machines, as they the 1st tool children were allowed to use. The press as manufactured had a strainer basket and some different sccessories made for sausage stuffing, etc. The first step is to make sure it's totally clean. At home we always rubbed so of last years lad on the barrel, seive and pressing top. The fats to be rendered were cooked off in cast iron pots and the fat was poured in the press and then cranked down. The pressed and squeezed fat is removed from the press(these are called craklins)and most of the crew ate their fill of them. As you could not remove all the lard the cracklins were also used in sausages and stuffed sausages. I could tell a lot more about family butcherings about the whole process, but that was not the questions. Thanks for listening!

bernadette moore
7/1/2011 9:35:39 AM

I have inherited a lard press. I have no idea how to use this. Could you please explain the lard process and where would I go to get appropriate lard? Thank you, Bernadette Moore or Rio Grande, NJ.

karen keb
6/29/2011 9:16:02 AM

It will smell rancid when it's gone bad. I always keep mine in the refrigerator and freezer and have never had a problem.

lisa medley
6/28/2011 8:38:26 PM

How do you know when it's gone bad?

6/28/2011 12:47:39 PM

Caleb -- Native Americans grew and ate sunflowers that were much lower in oil content and higher in protein and carbohydrate than modern, overbred oilseed sunflowers. And the sunflower oil industry has been slow to really embrace the "cold pressed" technology -- I would agree with the author that today's sunflower oil as a major dietary fat is really pretty modern. Russell -- nice work on the chicken fat. I prefer goose fat myself. And having researched fats and claims about fats, I can assure you that chicken fat offers no health benefits over lard rendered from pork fat such as was described in this article. Lard from the grocery store shelf has been adulterated and should be avoided for a number of reasons. Pure lard from ranged hogs fed realatively little grain will be liquid at slightly above room temperature.

russell bowman
6/28/2011 9:39:48 AM

We render chicken fat. Boil skin, a whole chicken broken up, or bones, refrigerate and skim off top, mix with water and boil again to remove chicken flavors if desired and skim one more time after cooling in the refrigerator. It is a healthy fat that is not as hard as bovine or hog fats.

karen keb
6/27/2011 4:05:40 PM

She doesn't discuss the origin of sunflower oil, but here is an excerpt: "The unhealthy fats are refined vegetable oils, including corn, safflower, sunflower, and soybean oil, and synthetic trans fats ... Industrial vegetable oils are unhealthy because they are too rich in omega-6 fats and because they are typically refined with heat, which makes them rancid and carcinogenic." Later, she states "Fran McCullough has a sensible take on high-oleic acid sunflower oil in Good Fat: 'If you desperately need a flavorless oil that's not light [refined] olive oil, this is your best candidate, as long as it's expeller-pressed (cold-pressed, without high heat), not hydrogenated, and stored carefully. Still, this is a fragile oil with no particular health benefits beyond its high-oleic additive.'"

caleb malcom
6/27/2011 2:27:20 PM

I find this interesting and will be attempting this but I would like to point out that sunflower oil is not a modern industrial creation and was in fact used by Native Americans. Now admittedly I've not read this book and will have to and I try to avoid soybean oil.

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