by Danelle @ My Total Perspective Vortex
Our butcher does not render the lard that our pigs produce for people, but they will grind it up and bag it to be included with the order. Still, rendering lard has set in our cultural imaginations as something dangerous, messy, smelly.....ect. I came across several historical accounts that involved houses burning down as a result of lard splatter during rendering or of severe, debilitating burn injuries. Most accounts talked of men with long sticks and huge kettles over open fires doing the rendering due to the danger factor.
I'm not kidding.
That doesn't work for our modern kitchens. At least not mine. I did a bit of research and found lots of links to sites that had people buying a couple lbs of lard and doing small batches on the stove top or in a dutch oven. But that's still not what I needed. Last year our butcher presented me with a full 5 gallon bag, frozen hard. It took three days to thaw mostly. I needed a way to do this thing in bigger batches and explain to customers how to do it too.
So my starting point was my experience last year. It wasn't hard, it did smell though, and the end results had some problems. This year I was having none of that.
My first batch was completed on Thursday and came out exactly how I wanted it to.
So start with the big old bag of frozen lard. This bag was about 3 gallons. I let it completely thaw in my fridge.
It would fit in my 7 quart crock pot, but I also have an 18 quart electric slow roaster that I wanted to try out. Either would have worked great. A smaller amount would work in a smaller crock pot too.
I scrubbed out all the equipment I was going to use. Any old food residue will contaminate, even dust from sitting in storage. Wash and rinse before use no matter how clean it looks.
I set the fat in the roaster and set it at 225 degrees (low on a crock pot). Some say to put 1/2 cup of water in too, but I didn't. I put the lid on and came back in 1 hr. In that time a lot of fat had liquefied so I scraped down the soft sides of the fat glob in the middle.
1 hr. later repeat.
|Lots of extra room. A 7 quart crock pot would have been more than enough.|
So now I was checking every 20 minutes or so and I actually saw the sinking in progress. Yay!
|Very clean and clear.|
|As it was cooling. Chad thought it was lemonade concentrate and almost tried to drink some.|
To put in the jars I got out my widemouthed canning cone and some cheese cloth/mesh folded over 4 times. I just laid it in. I used a metal measuring cup and scooped the lard/cracklings mix into the mesh. The lard drained into the jars, the cracklings separated out. When enough cracklings built up, I dumped them into a big bowl to cool. I filled the jars just below the freeze line and capped with a sterile lid.
|After cooling and freezing.|
No splattering since it was all done at low heat. I laid a towel out to catch drips but those were minimal.
I did put my purse in the car (in case the house caught fire) and a bowl of ice water waiting (in case of burns). Neither was necessary.
Lard can be used in place vegetable shortening in any recipe. Crisco type shortening was developed to replace lard with its longer shelf life (of like 20 years, ew). Lard should not be shelf stable, ever.
Anyway. No mess, no stink/smell, super easy, clean jars. I'd call this year's process a success!