Saturday, November 20, 2010

Rendering Lard in a Crockpot

It's PIE time, and I need lard for pie crusts!

But, why do we render lard or tallow? Well, rendering improves storage life by removing the impurities, whether bits of flesh, connective tissue, or moisture. Down near the bottom of this post there is a photo of the 'dregs' that did not dissolve into pure lard during the rendering process. (This is more than one would usually have rendering fatback or leaf fat, but that is only because of what I used as the source for fat.)

My earlier posts on rendering have only been on beef tallow from leaf fat. I'm still waiting on my meat man for leaf fat and back fat from hog butchering so I can render some lard. However, Thanksgiving is coming soon, and that means pies... which means some lard for a flakier crust. Frankly, I make lousy pie crusts... but then, I've never made one with lard. Maybe, just maybe, I can make a decent crust with lard!

I had 3-4 pounds of frozen, uncured 'bacon' I ordered when a local meat co-op opened several months ago. I had thought I was getting pork belly to cure my own bacon, but it came thick-sliced instead. So, I am rendering roughly 3 pounds of it for lard, doing a few things different than I what did for the tallow.

One, I chopped the pieces much smaller. Two, I added a cup of water (the tallow was done dry, in the oven), and three, I'm using the crockpot (slow cooker). Someone asked me in a post earlier if rendering can be done in a crockpot, so I'm finding out!

Here's the beginning, after maybe half an hour. It has come up to temperature and now (while I'm writing) it is at a low simmer, uncovered.

This is after about 2-3 hours in the crockpot, and after I took off some of the liquid fat and water.. 

I removed part of the liquid (fat and water) and strained it through some cheesecloth. You can see the water at the bottom of the measuring cup. 

The lard will turn white when cooled. (I poured off much of the lard into the container at the left, before it was cooled enough to become white and semi-solid.)

There are still some dregs not fully rendered. I put them in a small skillet on a low temp, to see if the meaty bits will "fry", and I can get a little more lard from them. I'll package the remains in small amounts for the freezer as they will make tasty additions to soups and stir-fried greens.

Update: I ended up with one pound of mixed bits of small fat chunks and meat, one and a half pounds total of rendered lard; the remaining half pound of the original weight must have been a combination of water and some fat soaked into the layers of cheesecloth I used for straining. Also, the fat I rendered in the skillet after I strained the bulk of it (about half a pound) had a slight but noticeable bacon odor so I packaged it separately for use where taste doesn't matter. I don't want to make Bacon-Pumpkin Pie for Thanksgiving!

I see no reason lard cannot be successfully rendered in a crockpot, and I'm quite satisfied with mine even though it was uncured bacon slices and not chunks of pork fat. When I do get the pork leaf fat, I'll try some in the crockpot to see if that works equally well.


  1. The crockpot is my favorite place to render lard and tallow. You can just walk away from it!

  2. I could walk away from making tallow when I used the oven, too. I don't know that I really have a preference yet.

  3. And there's delicious cookies that can be made from the cracklin's! As well as dog biscuits. =0)

  4. Just as a note... Uncured Bacon is really called "Side Pork". It's delicious itself in place of bacon. My grandmother used to cook up a big slab of fresh side pork, and then use the grease to cook country fried potatoes and eggs. Absolutely wonderful!


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