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Crockpot Lard


Finding lard these days isn't as simple as dropping by your local supermarket, since all of that lard is partially hydrogenated...crazy. But if you want to get rid of shortening in your household, it's worth the effort required to get some of the real thing. Fortunately, it's extremely easy to make it yourself! All you need is some pork fat, a crock pot, clean quart jars for storage, and a day. I followed the simple instructions found at Polyface Farm Recipes and had fantastic results.

Instructions

  • Aquire some pork fat (a 4-quart crock pot will hold about 5lbs of fat) ... you can find pork fat at your local butcher shop, you might have to ask them to save some for you as it might not be something they sell as a standard rule.

  • Thaw your pork fat ... this step is partially optional, sometimes it's actually easier to cut the lard if it's slightly frozen.

  • Cut your pork fat up into small cubs ... this lets you fit more lard into your crockpot and the fat release more evenly.

  • Turn your crockpot on LOW and let it cook all day ... by the end of the day the fat will have separated into clear melted lard and cracklin's (residual tissue ... just like the fat part on your cooked bacon).

  • Strain the melted lard through a filter into clean glass containers.

I've been using the lard for a year now, and I delighted in trashing my half-used tub of shortening. Lard works anywhere shortening is called for and can be melted to be used as liquid fat in recipes. It is very tasty when used to pop popcorn and is extremely stable at high temperatures. If acquired from grass fed pigs, it is also a great source for vitamin D.

Notes

  • When you cut up fat dedicate one hand to touching the fat and another hand for holding the knife. This avoids slippery knives and/or frequent hand washing.

  • Once the cracklin's are light brown, crispy and floating in a mass in clear melted fat you're done ... if you cook them too long the lard will darken and take on a slightly burnt flavor.

  • If you want to store your lard at room temperature, simply pour the hot lard into clean mason jars and screw the lid on immediately. The temperature of the lard will seal the jars, making them shelf-stable.

  • When you are done rendering all of your lard, clean-up is easy if you pour some dish soap immediately into the bottom of your still hot crock and scrub. The heat and soap will liquify any fatty residues making clean-up take a fraction of the time it does if you let your crock cool.

  • Once I did the initial pour-off after a day of cooking, there was a generous amount of fat still in the cracklins. So I put that portion back in to run overnight. The resulting lard was not as clear-white as the first pour but has worked great. The first pour yielded 1.5 quarts from 5 lbs. of fat, the second pour gave me an additional quart.

  • If you are rendering enough lard to fill multiple crockpots, cut all the lard up at once and store the excess in the refrigerator until it can be rendered. This avoids having to clean fatty cutting boards and knives multiple times.

  • You can just dispose of your cracklin's or you can cook them up in something ... they can be pretty tasty in omelettes.

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