Sunday, February 6, 2011

the great lard experiement: take 1

So the lard didn't turn out exactly like we hoped.

If you notice, it's a rather dark color. It smells pig-ish, almost like bacon grease. We used it to fry up some leftover chicken giblets, but decided that we're going to call this batch "needs improvement" and use the rest as dog food gravy. In small amounts, of course.

The pig fat was free from the grocery store, about two pounds of trimmings that they would have otherwise thrown away. We've also decided that, in the future, we're going to make 5 or 6 lbs of starting material the requirement, since it takes so long to make. It seems that one pound yields roughly one pint of lard.

We started by cutting the fat into 1" cubes. Then we put them in a dutch oven, with a small amount of water in the bottom, and put the whole thing in the oven at 300 degrees. Kept it there for about... oh... five hours, until the cracklins were mostly small and hard. They turned out delicious, by the way.

The diagnosis of my mentor-in-all-things-old-timey, based on what I described over the phone, is that we cooked it at too high a temperature for too long. He says it has to be done more slowly, at a lower temperature, and that will help eliminate the dark color and pig taste. He also described to me a lard press. I'd never heard of it, but apparently it's a device you can use to squish the last bit of lard out of hot cracklins. Has anybody ever used (or even seen) one?

Well, since all the ingredients (except the electricity for the stove) were free, I'm sure we'll be trying it again. Maybe next time we'll try it in a doubler-boiler pot on top of the woodstove.


  1. I've got about zero experience with lard, sorry. I"ve heard that 'leaf lard' that is more from around the organs (I know at least in cows) is really good. A useful site to check is Throwback at Trapper Creek- and sorry- for some reason I'm not being allowed to add a link.
    Good luck.

  2. I hate it when things like that don't turn out!
    We had really good luck with our lard rendering earlier this year. It wasn't quick but it was simple, splatter-free and successful. Here's the method we used:

  3. Do you have a crock pot? That's a perfect way to render lard - lard, a bit of water, and "low" for hours. I agree that 300 is too hot - I'd try 200 or 225 if you do it again in the oven.