This is the second time we have made lard. The first time was in a lard making group party where no one had done it before. We spent the whole time reading out directions and asking each other if they thought we were doing it right. Thankfully, this time it seemed much easier after doing it once before.
We requested that the fat be saved from the half of pig we bought when it was butchered. Our lard from last year was getting down and we wanted a fresh supply for next year. Some things taste best cooked in lard. The goal in rendering lard is to boil out all the water and strain out all the impurities. You do this by slowly melting the fat, and raising it to a temperature just above the boiling point of water. If you get it too hot, the oil will start to burn and the lard will take on a “piggy” taste. This is not a fast process. I know some people toss it in a large casserole dish in the oven at 250 for 24 hours or so. We processed it in a pot on the stove top for about 7 hours.
You add a little water to the bottom of the pan. This is to help conduct heat to the pieces of fat which starts the melting process and helps prevent burning. About a half cup of water or so will do it. We started out with just a little of the fat in the pot and then added more as it started to melt.
To help speed along the process, we started straining out the bigger bits left in the oil. It was getting very late at this point and most of the fat had melted. When all the water is boiled out of the oil you won’t get bubbles raising through the liquid. You want to make sure that all the water gets boiled out, otherwise you can get botulism in the lard later on.
We used canning jars for containers. We put the jars into a pan that was on top of some hot pads. The oil is VERY hot so you need to be super careful. Once the water is boiled out of the oil, you place some cheese cloth over top of the jars and ladle oil into them. This will strain out all the fine particulates left in the oil.