Time for rendering lard!
We had never actually done this, so lots of reading was done, and a few conversations with folks that had.
This didn’t seem all that complicated, so we dove in, so to speak
So far, the results are pretty good after one batch. We’ve got several more batches to go.
The steps we followed were pretty straight forward. Here’s what we did:
- First, my gorgeous and very talented wife took a couple bags of the fat and cut them into thin strips.
- Next she fed them into the meat grinder with a coarse screen to get things ground up nice and small for faster rendering. Or so the theory went.
- Then we dumped it into the crockpot on low, took it out to the mud room because it kinda smells … different.
- Fast forward about eight hours and we ended up with nice dark cracklings (the leftover from the fat rendering) and a good liquid.
- Before deciding it was done, I made sure that the lard had hit about 230 degrees. Not sure how necessary that is, but I wanted to make sure all of the water was boiled off. Technically that means that if it was 213 degrees the water was gone, but what’s wrong with a little buffer?
- Then I set up a strainer with cheesecloth in it over a nice pot and poured the rendered lard through it.
- Our last step today was to cool this off.
Tomorrow we’ll put it in containers. The plan of record is:
- Heat up canning jars to prevent them from cracking.
- Heat up the cooled lard back up to 250 degrees
- Ladle it into the hot jars
- Put lids on, and can in the pressure canner for 120 minutes at 15 lbs
Unfortunately I didn’t think to take pictures, so I’ll try to take some pictures of one of our next batches and update this post with them!
There’s quite a bit of debate about the safety of canning lard. The USDA provides no guidance one way or another on it which doesn’t help much. They’re pretty good about saying ‘Dont’ if it’s bad, so who knows.
Botulism spores die out at 250 degrees, which is one reason to reheat the lard that hot before canning. Further, they require water to grow, which isn’t present in the lard. Finally, processing in the pressure canner brings it BACK up to 250 degrees just for fun. Not much chance of Botulism living through all of that.
What I do know is that it’s JUST fat, and if it goes rancid, we’ll know. Further, folks keep uncanned lard for a very long time, and from what I understand canning lard used to be a normal thing. In any case, you should use your judgement on whether you can it or not.
If you don’t can it, then it should store fine in a dark cool place for three to six months, or you can freeze it for a longer shelf life.