How to Render Down Pig Lard


Well, it’s a good morning on the farm as today we are learning the art of rendering down pig lard. Exciting, I know.

If this is your first time, or if you haven’t rendered in a couple of years and need a refresher, then welcome.

To get started, take the fat you have saved after butchering your pig and put it all on the countertop or wherever you will be rendering. If you don’t butcher yourself, no big deal, ask your local butcher shop to save the fat from your pig you are having processed, and they will.

Once you have your pig fat collected you are ready to begin. Note, I store the fat in my freezer until I am ready to render it down. Life is busy and when garden season ends I’m cleaning up vines and pulling corn stocks so don’t have time to render down the pig lard, at least not right away.

Items Needed:

  1.  Crock-pot
  2. Chopping board
  3.  Sharp knife
  4.  Pig fat
  5.  Glass jars (I use wide mouth quart jars)
  6.  Cheesecloth or coffee filters
  7.  Ladle
  8.  Funnel

Directions:

  • Now that you have the necessary items, it’s time to begin. Start by plugging in your crockpot and turning it to high. Some people like to use the low setting, so it doesn’t burn or turn the lard brown, but I have never had this happen. However, I am constantly in the kitchen watching it. If you think you will be in and out, set it to low.
  • Once your crockpot is on, start chopping the fat into chunks and put them in the crockpot. Just to let you know, not all the fat will fit into the pot at the same time, or at least not usually. Not to worry, I will explain as we go along.
cutting pig fat
  • Once the crockpot is full of chopped fat, put the lid on. At this point, you can let it sit for a good 2 hours or until the fat starts to break down into liquid lard.
lard
  • Time to set get your quart jar. Using a cheesecloth, a coffee filter, or whatever you’re choosing to strain the liquid with, you need to lay it over the jar opening and then indent it a little bit. This is so when pouring your liquid it does not run all over the side of the jar.
  • Once the lard has started to break down and you are able to start scooping the liquid lard from the top, do so and pour it into the jar. This process you will do over and over, replacing the full jar with an empty one as needed.
  • My husband and I just look in the pot from time to time and scoop as we go about our day.  As you’ve guessed the more you scoop out the more room you now have to add more chopped fat chunks. It’s like a revolving door, some go in, and some come out. 
scooping lard out of the crockpot
  • You don’t have to wait for a batch to be done, just keep adding until you have added the last of the chunks. The amount of fat you get from one pig will take you most of a day to render down. That is if you start in the morning. It will take two days if you start sometime in the afternoon.
  • If you are tired and there is still fat to be rendered just shut off the crockpot before going to bed. Leaving the contents still in the pot and then resuming again when you wake up will in no way ruin the lard.
  • Here is a photo showing a jar half-filled with lard as you go through the process.
jar half filled with rendered down pig lard
  • Here are different stages of the rendered down lard as it cools. You can see the color goes from a brown tint to a white. Once they are all cooled it will look like snow:). We were able to get 8 quarts and a partial out of one pig. Note: the more you stir the lard while it is cooling in the jar the whiter it will turn out. I use a butter knife to stir.
Different stages of rendered down lard
  • Once you have ladled the last of the liquid out of the crock-pot, you will see what we call the cracklings left.  They almost look like bacon crumbles. Some people love these, others give them to their chickens or you can throw them away. We had a large cottage cheese container full of cracklings by the time we were done and gave it to a relative, who looks forward to them every year. 
cracklings
  • Keep the jars in a cool dark place, the same as you would your other canned goods. You can also freeze it.
  • We use the lard for pies, biscuits, or anything you would use store-bought lard for. The flavor of home-made is so much better, and your pie crusts will flake and taste incredible!
  • After opening a jar, store it in the refrigerator.

You now have the skill and knowledge to render down and make lard. If you have any questions please send me a direct message or leave a comment. Best of luck!

P. S. If you would like the recipe for a great pie crust and or baking powder biscuits please click on the highlighted links.

Until next time, stay healthy and free.

Heather Earles
Heather Earles

Heather is married to a retired Special Forces Officer, and they live on a farm with their four children. She is an established author, a stay-at-home mother, and an advocate for healthy living. She publishes a weekly blog and podcast (Herb ‘N Wisdom™) and writes for a local newspaper to aid and inspire others.

One Comment

  1. Katie L said:

    That is a whole lot easier than I thought!! I will have to try this some time 🙂

    April 18, 2016
    Reply

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