Rendering Lard – Two Ways

Wendy, my daughter-in-law, has a dear friend, Spring, who is developing a sustainable farm that includes goats, chickens and pigs.  Spring is an RN who is interested in naturopathic remedies, especially essential oils, and is also busy with her four children.  She recently had her two hogs butchered and saved the fat.  When my daughter-in-law mentioned that I was rendering tallow to make soap, Spring wondered if I would like to have the pig fat to render into lard.  Yes Please!  🙂  Thanks, Spring!

When I got the hog fat, it was separated into two different bags, each hog’s fat in it’s own bag. Spring was nice enough to have it frozen for me, so all I had to do was pop it into my ice chest and take it home, where I could thaw it in our outside refrigerator just in case it got stinky. 😉  Then, just like when I rendered some beef fat into tallow, I did quite a bit of research on the internet to see how other people render their hog fat into lard and found quite a few different ways to do it!  I decided to try rendering the lard two different ways and see which method I liked to render lard

The first method involved using my crock pot.  Since the crock pot delivers an even but low heat, it was recommended that the fat be ground up first.  I took out my handy-dandy Kitchen Aid, and with the grinder attachment and began grinding hog fat pieces.  Almost   immediately the machine bogged down and balked, and I barely had a cup of the fat ground up when I had to turn the machine off so that it wouldn’t overheat!  Then I cleaned out the cutting plate and realized that the fat still had quite a bit of skin left on (not always easy to see), and this was clogging the machine.  I continued to grind the hog fat after cutting off the skin.  But the machine still balked, so I ended dicing up the last of the fat.

rendering lardBefore the ground up fat was placed in the crockpot, about 1/2 cup of water was put in first (this prevents scorching of the fat, but evaporates off as the lard is rendered) and the crockpot was allowed to heat up on the lowest setting.  After the water in the crockpot was hot, I poured the pig fat in, placed the lid on and left it for about 1/2 hour.  I then gave it a good stir, and left the fat to render another 1/2 hour.  After a hour, I could see that there was 1/2 liquid fat and 1/2 still clear white solid fat, so I let it go for another hour, checking on it and stirring about every 10-15 minutes.

Once the solid pieces began to turn just a slight shade of beige-orange, I knew the lard had been rendered enough and it was time to separate the liquid lard from the solids. Apparently if you let the little solid pieces brown with the fat, the lard will be darker and take on a “piggy” to render lard in a crockpot  Since I eventually want to make soap and pastries with the lard, this would not be acceptable. Again, after roaming around on Google, I found that there are quite a few ways to strain the impurities out, and I decided to use the coffee filter method for this batch.  As you can see from the picture (click on any picture to make it bigger), I laid an unbleached coffee filter in a large strainer, and placed that over a funnel in a canning jar. The fat strained easily through the filter and was crystal clear with a light yellow tinge to it in the jar!  I ended up with  about 1-1/2 pints of lard from that batch.  Once the lard had cooled in the refrigerator, it was as white as snow!rendering lard

The second method was much quicker.  The fat was diced into fairly small pieces, placed into a pot with about 1/2 cup of water, then set over a medium low flame.  I could hear the fat start to crackle almost immediately, and I realized this method was going to involve a bit rendering lard how to more tending to than the crock pot method required, with constant stirring to prevent scorching.  With this method, the fat was rendered to about the same stage as the crock pot method in just 20-ish minutes! In fact, it happened so fast I forgot to look at the clock! One thing that I forgot to mention is the salt.  I read in a few books and a couple of blogs that it’s important to add some salt while the rendering is taking place, so that the resulting lard will be more solid and make harder soaps.  Therefore, I added one teaspoon of sea salt to each batch before I started to render lard in a crockpot I brought the rendering pot inside to separate the fat from the impurities, and decided to use the hot water method for this batch.  With the hot water method, a strainer is placed over a bowl of almost boiling hot water, and the rendered fat is poured into the strainer.  The impurities in the fat that go through the strainer simply fall down into the water while the clean fat floats on top. After a night in the refrigerator, the lard had solidified into a solid white disc, which I froze for future use.crockpot rendering


First:  It stinks.  Seriously.  Don’t render fat in your house if you can help it.  If you do render in the house, use your exhaust fan on high.

Second:  Rendered fat is hot.  Boiling hot!  Be careful around children, dogs, bare legs and feet!

Third:  DON”T clean your pots and pans in the sink without wiping them out first! Lard and/or tallow will clog your pipes!

Fourth:  It’s fun and you will get hooked.  Your friends and family will look at you strangely when you ask them to save all their beef or hog fat for you.

freshly rendered lard strained through an unbleached coffee filter - light pale yellow yet clear!

Freshly rendered lard strained through an unbleached coffee filter.  It starts out light pale yellow, yet clear, then cools to snow white creamy lard!

My verdict?  I prefer the quick method of rendering.  It just took too long to grind the fat and the clean-up was much more involved!  It was simple enough to just dice the cold fat up (skin and all), throw it into the pot and render on medium low heat for 20-30 minutes.  I may try dicing up the fat like I did for the pot, yet rendering it in the crockpot.  We’ll see.

My choice for getting the impurities out of the fat was the method using the coffee filter and strainer.  It just seemed a lot easier because the filtered fat went straight into jars, ready for the fridge, without much trouble.  The other method of pouring the fat through hot water took more time and effort because it was necessary for the fat to form a solid disc before it could be taken out of the bowl with the water.  Also, there was still a thin layer of those “impurities” that stuck to the underside of the fat disc and I had to scrape them off.

how to render lardWhat will I do with the lard?  First, I would like to make soap.  I have sensitive skin and get “the itchies” quite often after a bath or shower if I don’t get every trace of chemical off my body.  Chemical?  Yes.  Most soaps purchased in retail stores include substances such as  polyquaternium-6, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, pentasolium pentetate…., well, just look at the label in the picture above!  Now, go ahead and read what’s in yours.  You will probably be shocked. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather use soap made with just four or five ingredients:  lard (or tallow), olive oil, sodium hydroxide, and essential oils! Since I am trying (really hard) to be a locavore, I prefer not to use coconut or palm kernel oil.  Though those are wonderful, silky, lather producing oils, they are not produced locally, which raises their carbon footprint which renders them non-sustainable.

The other use for lard is, of course, in cooking.  I am going to make a pie crust for my first cooking experiment with the lard. I must admit that I have never cooked with lard before because I was afraid of it.  Cholesterol!  Hardening of the arteries!  Triglycerides!  All that stuff.  Now we find out that the alternatives (margarine, canola oil and partially hydrogenated anything) are worse than the good old fashioned lard!  It’s time to get back to basics, folks, and eat real food.

Besides, I hear lard makes a delectable, flaky, golden brown crust, and when it comes to pie, I’m all about the crust!


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36 thoughts on “Rendering Lard – Two Ways

  1. Hello Vickie,
    this is a great and very detailed post.
    It is great fun to read it, and learn.
    The second method I find better.

    With us you eat lard on bread with roasted Onions. But this is goose fat. This is also delicious.

    kind regards


    • Good morning, Uwe! I have heard many people love schmaltz (goose fat) in Germany with roasted onions. My son wouldn’t eat it when he visited Germany (he is a picky eater), but one day when I visit Germany I will be sure to try some. Do you make your own schmaltz, or do you buy it in a store?

  2. such great info as always! Hubby’s mom used lard (she did render her own too and store bought) and her pies & desserts were raved over – might have been the lard, don’t know, but they were delish!

    • I remember my grandma cooking with lard and I didn’t think anything of it, except that I loved her cooking! I will be experimenting with the lard (and tallow) in both cooking and making soap. Wish me luck!

    • Doesn’t soapmaking sound like fun? And I can’t wait to try this stuff out on a pie crust! This is only the third time I have rendered fat – the first time I made tallow out of beef fat – but it really is easier than it looks! Enjoy your ham, bacon, chops, ribs, sausage and lard!

  3. Your lard looks delightful! I would use it!
    I will use olive oil exclusively if I’m cooking with oil, but I’m not above keeping the fat from any meat I’ve cooked for reuse 😉

    • Good morning… er, evening for you! I like to use olive oil also, but I have been hearing about the health benefits of lard lately. For years we were told “no animal fats”, and now I guess it’s healthier than some of the oils we had come to think of as “safe”. Go figure. Besides, I plan to use most of the lard in making soap!

      • Lard tastes yummy, though, lol! I reckon it’s adverse health affects would come from an excess of consumption.
        Your soap would be something pretty special, made with your own lard! Does it cost you much?

    • I would bet a cast iron kettle would work great! Nice and heavy so it wouldn’t heat too fast, but keep a more even heat! Thanks, Kathy.

    • Soapmaking was the main reason I wanted to render lard and tallow, but then people started saying how good it is to cook with it, especially pastries! As we get ready for my husband to retire and ultimately move up to our future homestead, I am trying to learn as many homesteading skills as possible! Wish me luck in my first foray into soapmaking! Thanks for stopping by, Terri.

  4. Some input on the health benefits: My cholesterol has run a little high (around 230) for years, but my ratios are great so I’ve not been concerned about it (although my doctor keeps trying to put me on statins). I just had another cholesterol check and was in the middle of doing a Whole 30 where it is required to eat a thumb-size portion of fat (specific fats allowed, mostly saturated and animal based) 3 times a day (with food, of course). The only fats I used were bacon grease, coconut oil, ghee and olive oil. I also ate a lot of eggs. I was shocked when my total cholesterol came back at 192! Ratios were still great and triglycerides were low, also.

    • Hi, Mary. Isn’t that something? It’s just like coffee: remember when we were told it was bad for you? Then, surprise surprise, turns out it’s full of anti-oxidants! I fell into the myth of using vegetable oils and hydrogenated this and that when I was a young wife. I switched from butter to margarine and we used Sweet N Low instead of sugar. Well, now we use real butter and organic cane sugar. I’m glad your cholesterol is better. You are proof that real fool is best!

    • I can’t wait to make soap! I keep reading recipes and hearing about how much better it is than commercial soap. I have most of my supplies ready now, just waiting for the lye! Wish me luck!

  5. When I was a child that is all we ever used was pure lard and then came Crisco. Now people are coming back to what was real food and saying it is healthy. Thanks for sharing this informative post on Real Food Fridays.

    • Good morning, Marla! I was raised on Crisco, margarine and all sorts of food substitutes, and I feel blessed that I am still alive and kicking after reading some reports about how bad these are for you! While I won’t go crazy cooking with the lard, I am interested to see how to use it and try it in a few recipes. Thanks for hosting the party!

  6. G’day! Thanks for allowing me to learn something new and thanks for sharing at our #SayGdayParty
    Please make sure to revisit if you haven’t already to Say G’day to the hosts and another person at the party!
    Cheers! Joanne @ What’s On The List Pinned

  7. I have used lard for several years AFTER my husband had a heart attack. After a lot of research, I came to the conclusion that natural fats were not the problem. I’ve not bought margarine or shortening since. If we ever raise a meat hog, I will now know how to render my own lard! Thank you for sharing at What We Accomplished Wednesdays. Have a lovely week! ~Deborah

    • Crazy, isn’t it!? Come to find out, it isn’t the fat that’s so bad, it’s the sugar and lack of exercise! It’s unbelieveable when you read that heart disease didn’t come about until AFTER all of the food substitutes came into play and our nation became a population of desk jockeys. Thanks, Deborah, for your comments!

  8. I remember having Shmalz on toasted rye bread with a tiny sprinkle of salt. My father loved it. Mother being Of German descent and Father Hungarian. I think mother bought it at a market or Continental store.
    Thanks for the memories and all the best for your soap making….the only thing I don’t like about homemade soaps made with goats milk ( the best) , oil or fats is the residue that is left on tiles and glass in the shower.
    Love your adventure and how you share it with us 🙂
    Alexa blogging from Sydney, Australia

    • I didn’t really get many cracklings, what I did get I salted and munched on right away – not bad! Thanks for stopping by, Jackie!

  9. AMEN on the facts about lard/butter being better for you .if we would quit using vegetable oils we would be much healthier . as with anything we eat we just need to remember moderation .