The other day my wife was given a large amount of pig fat to render. She chose to use her crock-pot, but you could do it over an open fire without any problems. If you do it over an open fire, a double boiler is preferable to keep it from burning. It’s really pretty simple cut the fat into small pieces or run it through your meat grinder. Put it in the crock-pot and turn the heat up.
Let the fat cook until the pieces turn into crackings and start to sink to the bottom of the pan. Drain the fat off through a colander lined with cheesecloth. Don’t do what someone I know did, they tried to pour hot fat through a plastic colander and ruined a nice batch of lard when the colander melted.
Older cookbooks say lard rendered at lower temperatures will keep longer. I recommend that you cook it at about 200 degrees.
We then poured the lard in mason jars and after they cooled off, we placed them in the refrigerator for storage. Save the crackling that remain in the colander, salted they taste good and are nice for a snack or to sprinkle on salads.
Lard is good for you
We now know that lard has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat and less cholesterol than butter. Unlike most vegetable shortenings, unhydrogenated lard contains no trans fat (unsaturated fat with trans-isomer (E-isomer) fatty acids) and is a rich dietary source of vitamin D. Trans fats do not exist in nature, but occur during the processing of polyunsaturated fatty acids in food production. The consumption of trans fats increases the risk of coronary heart disease by raising levels of LDL cholesterol and lowering levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. Lard, when used in moderation, is good for you!
Lard stores very well. In closed containers it will remain fresh in the refrigerator for many weeks. For long term storage, put your lard into suitable containers and freeze for 6 months or more. Storage life in closed containers without refrigeration is open to debate. I don’t have enough data to give you my personal observations yet. Any information you have would be welcome.