Thursday, June 13, 2013

Lard in a crock pot

Real food, as I am discovering, can be quite time consuming.  I've been trying to get my home together and cleaned up in preparation for a visit from my uncle and my grandmother next week, trying to school the kids and trying to keep up with the laundry, and it occurred to me that a good part of the morning each day, even when we have something as simple as oatmeal or muesli for breakfast, is taken up with food related business in the kitchen.  I'm putting up water kefir and kombucha to brew, making butter, making yogurt, cooking up a batch of brown rice and lentils for stretching the meat in burritos or sloppy joes, or some such thing.  Last Friday we picked up the pork that was once Pink Floyd from the butcher, and for the first time I had the butcher put aside some fat to be rendered into lard. He saved 10--count 'em--10 lbs. for me.

My vision of making lard always included cast iron cauldrons and fires, and women in long skirts stirring and stirring.  Actually, the process isn't too hard.  If you have a crock pot, it's really quite easy.  I found this video on YouTube which took away some of my trepidation and all of my Little House on the Prairie visions.  My apologies to those who are vegetarian or vegan.  Or sensitive to photos of great big globs of fat.

This is what 10 lbs of pig fat looks like.  

I cut it into 1/2 inch to 1 inch chunks.  It is messy and the knife gets slippery.  

Looks a bit less gross now, eh?  I put as much a I could fit into my crock pot and set it on low with the lid off.

  After many hours, I though I'd take a chance and put it on high.  I should have done it sooner, as the fat cooked and cooked for many hours, and never seemed in danger of scorching.

Still has a way to go here.  If you want cracklins, you have to wait until the fat is cooked out and nothing remains but yummy little crunchy things.  Mine never seemed to get that far, and I threw in the towel at 10 pm and ladled the fat carefully through cheesecloth and into jars.  The chickens are getting the would-be cracklins.  

Voila!  4 jars--approximately 3 quarts--of lard

Anyway, I just wanted to put the process into photos to show how very easy it is.  I don't cook much with lard, to be honest, but I detest waste, and even if I have to make soap from it, I just can't see throwing out what could be used.  The saying used to be that one could use every part of a pig except for its squeal.

And no, I haven't gotten into pig's trotters or head cheese.  I don't know that I ever will, thank you very much.

Anyway, I had better get back to work...much to do, and so little time!  I just had to take a break after cutting Bret's and Dominic's hair, and this gave me an excuse to take one...


  1. I am so excited to see you do this! I have many lbs from our cow we bought and I have been wanting to render it for soap. I am hesitant about the smell. (Pregnancy nose :) ) Was the smell very strong while you had it going?

  2. No, I didn't find it bad (but again, I'm not preganat!) Sebastian said it smelled like a pork roast cooking. Beef tallow, I would imagine, would smell absolutely yummy! Beef fat seems too good for soap to me!

  3. Start mixing the lard in for pie crusts or pastry and you'll never go back to shortening. The flavor is amazing.
    Our butcher grinds our lard for us, so no messy cutting - yeah! (Might want to ask about that next time - it doesn't cost us anything extra.)

  4. p.s. You'd get cracklin's by heating them a little hotter like on the stove or oven. You can even put them in between two paper towels after you cook them in the slow cooker and microwave them for a minute.

  5. Thanks! I haven't weighed it out but I think I have quite a bit so I will use some for cooking too I would imagine. This is all very new to me :)

  6. Oh, Traci, thank you so much for the tips!

  7. Definitely use it in pie crusts and pastry applications! :) Mmm...cracklin's. Bruce is gotta go soon. I'm so excited about the cracklin's that come with the lard rendering. haha.


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