I’m not normal.
You know how I know this?
Because, even though I just came back from Cape Town, I feel the urge to tell you about rendering pork fat into good ole’ lard.
Because, when I’m stressed about writing and can’t seem to find the right words for a couple projects, the only thing that makes my fingers fly off the keyboard typing are these words, which will soon describe nothing of importance, unless you find fat important (I do).
Because, when I saw the huge plastic bag hoisted up from behind the counter of the butcher shop, the plastic bag that not only contained pork bones for a broth but also sheets of pork fat and skin, I clapped my hands with joy.
Because, I happily, attentively, patiently waited for over a day for my pork skin to cook down in the slow cooker, eventually ladling the residual product into small glass jars like a mad scientist.
Because, instead of using olive oils and coconut oils and whatever other “healthy” oils are available, I choose to use my own, homemade lard.
Because, the word “LARD” is as funny to me as the word “FART” but also sexy in a way that farts are most definitely not.
Because, I couldn’t wait to take pictures of pork fat cradled in a small wooden spoon.
How to render pork fat into lard
According to Paleo guru and our new household hero Robb Wolf (or rather, an author on his website),
Leaf lard is from the interior of the animal near the kidneys and back fat is from, well – the back of the pig, between the loin and the skin. If you purchase back fat it will almost always have a little bit of red meat layered with the white fat while leaf lard tends to be more purely white in color through and through. Both types of fat are delicious and versatile but back fat does often have a richer flavor that may arguably make it somewhat less suitable for a few particular purposes such as certain desserts or baked goods.
Most recipes instruct the use of back fat, and I agree with this. I had to actually pick through my pile of scraps to find the ones with the most fat, but hey, this is Africa.
If you ask for back fat from the butcher in the states, you will most likely receive your pieces, nice thicky fatty pieces with a thin layer of skin. Still, no matter how thin this skin, it will seem as thick as leather when you try to cut it at home. Therefore, ask your butcher to cut it for you into small pieces, even minced, if possible, as opposed to doing in online. Especially if you’ve got dull knives, and dull kitchen shears. Trust me, these fingers I’m typing with were nearly gone on several occasions.
I’ve also read online that the smaller the pieces, the more fat you’ll get off of the skin.
Anyway, on with the instructions:
- Start with any increment of pork fat, but at least a pound, up to 5-6 pounds (or really, as much as your crock pot can handle), cut into pieces.
- Pour a small amount of water, about 1/4 cup into a crock pot. This will prevent the skin from sticking to the bottom, but does not need to be an exact amount.
- Place your pork skin and fat into the crock. Set on low to medium heat and let the crock pot work its magic.
- If possible, check the crock pot once an hour or so, stirring if possible, to ensure even cooking of the skin.
- The fat will slowly start to melt into a puddle of oil. My lard took over 10 hours to render, but just keep your eye on it. It helps to spoon out the fat as it cooks down, straining through a fine-meshed sieve as you go.
This Lard will keep on the counter top if you prefer as such, but can last several months in the fridge.This rendered fat also freezes extremely well!