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How do I render leaf lard and back fat?

 
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I am being given some free leaf lard and back fat from a friend who just butchered his pig. I've never rendered that stuff down before. Any tips and tricks to do it and preserve it?
 
pollinator
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I cut it in small chunks and simmer for hours in a cast iron pan until completely melted. Filter the cracklings and store the clear fat in glass jars. I freeze or keep in the fridge and it keeps for months.

It's a breeze to make; you'll just have a house that smells of land for hours.
 
Matt McSpadden
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Thanks. That doesn't sound too bad. I was actually thinking of doing it outside on the side burner of the grill. I don't have that big of a pan made from cast iron, so I'll probably have to use a stainless steel stock pot.
 
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Similar here,  but with the slow cooker.  Different brands vary, but it tends to be significantly cheaper to run for long periods than the stove.  
 
Matt McSpadden
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Similar here,  but with the slow cooker.



Ooo. I'd have to do multiple batches, but that sounds pretty easy, especially because I wouldn't have to watch it as carefully.
 
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I add a little water at first. The water reduces the chance of burning and eventually evaporates.
 
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i also use the crockpot. put in a bit of water, as John mentions, it eventually disappears.
I put it out on my porch, because it gets a bit porky inside the house otherwise.
 
Matt McSpadden
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I got my first batch through. Doing another batch today. Probably have at least 5 batches if not 6. Going to have some good lard for cooking :)

Based on the advice here and other articles online. I put a bunch of cut up pieces in the crock pot with a little bit of water in the bottom. The crockpot was maybe halfway full I would guess. I had it on low for about 6 hours with the lid on. Then I took the lid off and cranked it up to high for another couple hours or so. By then it was bedtime, and I gave up trying to go until the bits were brown and crispy (per a couple articles). I put a flour sack (fewer holes than a cheese cloth) on top of a metal colander, on top of a large bowl. Poured it in, smooshed it a little bit. Let it drain a little bit. Then I put it in a jar hot, put a lid on it, put it into the fridge and called it a night.

I learned that dull knives are frustrating to cut with.
I learned that scissors work great for cutting thawed pork fat into pieces.
I learned that (so far) rendering fat in a crockpot does not make the house smell any more like pork than cooking pulled pork would.
I learned that it is exciting to have a jar full of lard, and see how much more there is left to make more :)
 
Matt McSpadden
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Second batch was a little bit bigger than the first. We cooked it for about the same amount of time, and it still was not nearly done after 9 hours. So we turned the crockpot off and are going to start again tomorrow. We will see how it works out.
 
Matt McSpadden
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So I ended up with about 5 quarts of lard. Strained and kept in the frig, just because. I did lose probably another 2 or 3 quarts worth because I did not freeze it, and just kept it in the fridge. I went to do another batch and it had green and yellow spots all over it. I pitched it. I hated to lose that much fat, but I learned a lot from this process. I am not confident to do it again, and while I lost some good healthy fat, I feel that what I learned was worth it.
 
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