Hey, my name is Cameron, Farmer Johnny’s oldest daughter at the age of sixteen. I enjoy preparing to be a help meet , and rendering lard is something Mama has taught me in my preparation of some day becoming a wife and mother. I’ve enjoyed helping Mama in the kitchen since I was little; some things come pretty natural because I’ve done them all my life. But since moving to the farm 8 years ago, I have to admit, I’m still learning new things all the time. We’ve discussed Kombucha Tea, yogurt and other things, but rendering lard is the topic for today.
Making lard is fun and also very educating for the kids. They’ve learned how to do it and they have such a good time sitting down about twice a year to cut up the bunch of hog fat that becomes cracklings and lard. Lard is so much better for you than Crisco or even lard from the store. We’ve been taught that too much fat in your diet will make you fat; not so. It’s been proven (by me even) that fat is very beneficial to the body, even in large amounts: if . . . yes, if, you get the right kinds of fat.
Lard is not bad for you, neither is butter. In fact, both of these fats are very necessary to the body. We’ve covered how to make your own butter. Now it’s time to show you how to make your own lard.
First you’ll need the fat. If you have hogs, when you butcher them, you’ll use some fat in sausage if you make some, then save the rest for lard. Mama cuts it up into strips and freezes it if we don’t have time to do it before it would go bad. It will keep a long time in the freezer in a garbage bag. When you are ready to tackle this day-long job (if you have very much; as we do) pull it out early in the morning and shortly it will be ready to cut.
The long strips are about an inch wide and we cut them into squares. This is the most time consuming. The smaller the cubes are, the faster they will cook. I don’t want to discourage you by saying it’s a day-long job, because it doesn’t have to be. In fact, you could pull out just a bit here and there and do it in spirts. Whatever you want to do; it won’t go bad in the freezer.
After it’s cut into cubes, we put it in a pot and turn it on. If using cast iron, your lard will be a honey color, using stainless steel, it will be snowy white. If the fat is the from the belly of the hog, it may stick to the pan because it’s a softer fat and will scorch if it’s not stirred regularly. Keep it on a low temp and stir it occasionally. As the fat melts, the cubes will start to float in the lard. It is like brown liquid. It’s at this point we begin ladling it out and straining it.
Using a ladle, you can see that it comes right out of the pot. It is now like water; very runny. Cook it until the cracklings have hardly any fat left to cook out and turn a light golden brown. If you have just hog skin, or even the skin with some fat on it, to make pork skins, bring the lard (before ladling it off) to a boil. Boil for several minutes, or until the skin is fat and bubbly.
Separate the cracklings from the lard. We strain the lard through a colander lined with paper towels over a bowl. After the cracklings are done cooking, put them in the colander also and press out as much lard as possible. The cracklings can be thrown away or eaten. Add salt if desired.
From the bowl that holds the lard, pour into quart jars; carefully. The hot liquid can break a jar if poured too quickly. Place lids and rings on and most time it will seal because the lard is hot. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seal, it will keep a long time in a cool place, such as a basement without a seal.
It will stay the brownish color until it’s completely cool; then it will return to it’s fluffy, white color that is so lovely. Use it like butter in anything from frying (potatoes: yum!) or in pie crusts or light biscuits.