There are many uses for lard so it is handy to know how to render it. Rendering simply means that you are separating the pure fat from the meat and gristle. So I thought I would share how I render my lard.
Step 1. Trim as much meat as possible off the fat.
Step 2. Grind the fat. This doesn't have to be a fine grind, a coarse grind works just fine. If you don't have a grinder you can chop the fat into small bits and this will work also, it will take a bit longer though.
Step 3. Place the lard in a pot or crockpot with 1/4 cup of water and simmer. If you do this on a stove use a medium low setting and if you do this in the crockpot use a low setting. Then cook and cook and cook some more. Periodically you will need to stir the lard so that the cracklins don't burn. This process will take a few hours stove top and about 8 hours in a crockpot depending on the strength of the crockpot. Mine is an el cheapo crockpot so doesn't have a whole lot of kick with temperature. If you have a really nice one it's low setting might be a higher temp. In other words keep an eye on your lard whether using the stove or crockpot.
Step 4: Your cracklins (meat and gristle bits) will sink to the bottom as the fat is separated out. Then they will start to brown a little. At this stage turn off the heat and let them cool for about 10 minutes.
Step 5. Take a strainer and line it with cheese cloth. You can either freeze your lard in chunks or pour it into jars. If you want to freeze it then take a pyrex dish that is square and pour the lard through the strainer. Place the dish in the freezer for a couple hours then cut your lard into chunks to place in a ziploc bag. If you are pouring into a jar then you can let it cool for a bit then place a lid on the jar and store in a cool place. Lard will go rancid if stored in a hot area.
Step 6. Use your lard. Biscuits and pie crusts made with lard are by far the best. Use lard to saute or fry. If your hands are really dry consider rubbing a tiny amount of lard on them. Make soap. Grease your cookie sheets and baking pans.
That is it. It is really an easy process even though it does take some time. You can use this same process for any type of animal fat. Tallow is great for making candles (they smoke alot though) or making soap (makes a nice hard bar) or making a leather preservative lotion. Lard is softer than tallow so don't be surprised if it is really soft at room temperature. Mine stays creamy even in the refrigerator. Oh, and don't throw away those cracklins! Use them for cracklin bread or you can feed them to the chickens, dogs or cats if you really don't like cracklin bread. How can anyone not like cracklin bread?! Use them, they certainly don't belong in the garbage. Blessings, Kat