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Contrary to popular belief, lard is an excellent and healthy fat to use for cooking and baking. Learn how to render lard from pastured pig fat in a crockpot, store it, and use it.
Lard. It gets a really bad rap, you know? People think of things like lard, butter, tallow… all of those fats that can be naturally rendered from natural things as unhealthy. But, it really isn’t as bad as people have been led to believe. In fact, there have been studies linking lard to health! Which, is awesome.
In our family we try to eat healthy. We also try to eat more natural foods. Like lard, butter, and tallow. And steer clear of the unnatural, it wasn’t food to begin with, items like cottonseed oil (crisco), margarine, and canola oil. Call me crazy, but I don’t think manipulating things that were once not consumable by humans into food-like products is probably the best thing to put on the dinner table.
Crisco, by the way, has an incredible history of changing everyone’s minds so they could use it. But, that my friends, is a story for another day. Lard is good. It makes amazing pie crusts, biscuits, and other flaky, pastry goods. It’s also really, really easy to render down. All you need is a little patience and a crockpot.
Recently, we lucked in to finding someone with pigs ready to butcher. Of course being the crazy homesteader that I am, I jumped on the opportunity. We had never in our lives butchered one, but I knew we could handle the task at hand.
Pastured pork chops, hams, homemade bacon, and freshly rendered lard from a pig we butchered that I know was raised properly? Tell me where to sign up!
This particular pig was a mulefoot, a very rare heritage breed known especially for their ham and lard. And this one had a lot of lard. Buckets upon buckets were sitting in the freezer just waiting for me to render down the fat. And all that fat? It made me smile from ear to ear. It would provide us with plenty of pie crusts, biscuits, and soap for many, many months to come.
I could not have been happier. I know, crazy. Someone happy over buckets of fat waiting to be rendered down into glorious lard.
Lard, by the way, is a lot easier to render down than say… tallow. Simply because on a pig, you can utilize all of the fat. For tallow one usually only uses the leaf fat off of cows or deer. So, a pig will generally create quite a bit more lard than you might think. Save all that fat, not just the leaf fat!
While you can definitely easily render lard on the stovetop if you’ve got a day to keep watch on it. I have 3 kids and plenty more to do than watch over a stock pot on the stove all day. So, I chose to use the best electric invention ever. The crockpot. I can simply put all of my ingredients in, stir it upon occasion and let it do its thing. No watching really required.
In fact, we had to run to town (which is a minimum of a 2 hour trip) and I was able to just leave the fat sitting in the crockpot doing its thing while we ran our errand. I love, love my crockpot for simplifying things in my life. I think I need a couple more of them….
But anyway, I am proud to say, I figured out how to do a ton with fresh pork and the fat during our first butchering experience but rendering down this delicious stuff was by far my favorite.
I love the idea of not wasting anything and none of this pig went to waste. We used everything in some form and especially the fat. While you’re butchering, go ahead and just take the big hunks and put them into some food grade buckets and throw them in the deep freezer until you’re ready to use. Making sure the fat is nice and cold will make it a lot easier when it comes to getting it ready.
How to Render Lard in a Slow Cooker
The fat is easiest to handle and cut up if it’s almost frozen. If it isn’t, you can still cut it up, of course, it’s just going to be a little more slippery. So, you’ll need to practice extra care if you choose to be impatient like me.
You’ll also want plenty of soap to break the grease off of your hands after you’re done handling the stuff. It can be a little on the messy side, but it’s definitely worthwhile.
Tools You’ll Need to Render Lard
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Do you use traditional fats in your home?