Yeah, I know. Lard is evil. Lard is fattening. Lard is the right hand of the devil. Okay, maybe not that last one.
In all actuality, it just ain’t that bad. It’s high in mono- and poly- unsaturated fats, which are the good kinds of fat. And it has less saturated fat than butter. Word. Check out the stats here
While olive oil is the fat of choice in our house, I do use lard for seasoning cast iron and frying venison. My main use for lard is in my homemade soap. Whenever I buy a pork shoulder, I cut most of the fat off and save it in the freezer for my devious lard-making purposes.
Pork fat produces the best type of lard for cooking, but if you happen to be a soapmaker, you can use this method to render any type of animal fat; it will all make a good bar of soap.
There are several methods you can use to render lard, this is just what I do.
First, cut your fat into tiny pieces. That has to be one of the most disturbing sentences I’ve ever written. The pieces on the cutting board in the photo below could actually stand to be smaller, but I was in a hurry.
Throw them in a frying pan (cast iron preferably) that can hold all the fat in a single layer. Add 1/4 cup of water and crank the heat to medium high. Adding the water is optional, but it helps heat the fat up quickly without burning it. The water will evaporate quickly.
When the water has evaporated and the fat is sizzling away, reduce the heat under the pan to its lowest setting. And walk away. Let the fat render for about an hour, stirring occasionally, until it looks like the photo below.
Use a slotted spoon (or a sieve) to remove the cracklin’, and there you have it. Done. Easy peasy. The fat is still hot and therefore liquid in the photo above, but when it cools down it hardens and turns white in color. Of course, I didn’t take a picture of that because one, I am a doofus; and two, I had to use the lard before it had a chance to cool down. Once it cools down, store it in the refrigerator.
So there you have it. Render away, folks!