Rendering Fat into Lard
Lard is the rendering of animal fat into a solid(ish) state to be used in cooking or as a base for an herbal rub such as a bruise balm. Rendering fat into lard isn’t hard, just time consuming.
The first step is to pick the type of fat to be used. The fat from the back or the sides of an animal are usually considered better then the fat from around the organs. (This is not including caul fat which has different cooking properties). The fat from the organs, I am unclear as to why, seems to be more odiferous then the melting fat from either the back or the side. I have heard that leaf lard is the way to go (as being the fat from the back) or that you should never use leaf lard (being the fat from the organs). So the naming of the fat differs depending on where you live, hence the reference as back, side or organ fat. The exception to this is the ball of fat found on some sheep referred to as tail fat. The rendering method is the same, just the location is different. Note: Do not use the fat found in the organ region but the fat around the organs (caul fat) is very good.
The type of lard you want is the next step. Pork, beef, sheep, chicken or even duck can be made into lard or just fat for chicken or duck fat. Why the fowl get fat instead of lard for theirs I don’t know…it just is. All have very different tastes. Each animal imbibes the fat with a flavor. Some flavors are stronger then other. Tail fat for instance tastes strongly of mutton while duck tends to have a smoother flavor that is not very strong, more like a hint of duck.
Once the type of fat for rendering has been decided upon, place the fat
into a pan and cover with either a lid or foil and cook until the meat parts turn brown. 2.5 lbs take about 2.5-3 hours. Once the meat pieces in the fat start to turn brown take the pan from the oven and allow to cool a bit. Ladle into molds.
I used muffin molds which measure ¼ cup per muffin round. Once the liquid has been put into molds, put the mold pan into the freezer.
This makes the lard easier to remove from the pan and the individual lard cakes can be stored in plastic bags in the freezer for up to 3 months.
The crispy pieces left over, are called crackling and can be used for other dishes.
Save these! Very period…but also makes an excellent addition in cornbread.
Upon occasion the timing is off when cooking fat and overcooking will occur. This can be quickly spotted when the rendered fat is an amber color instead of clear gold.
If the cracklin part is burnt, toss the fat and cracklin away. The liquid fat, in a prior picture is actually amber and from the burnt batch and was thrown away. The fat needs to be clear and golden in color. Burnt fat transfer the taste of burnt ash to the fat. There is nothing to be done at this point.