Here is our personal process of rendering lard and leaf lard. It is a straightforward process, taking not much more than time and a careful eye! What we were not expecting was the ridiculously delicious and highly addictive gift of cracklin'.
Cracklin' is the hard bits left behind as the liquid separates out. Note, I keep seeing descriptions of Cracklin' as containing bits of skin but I am not so sure that is correct? The fat we use from our butchered hogs has been totally cleaned of any remaining meat/skin because their presence would mess up the lard making process. But don't quote me on it!
Lard is semi-soft when at room temperature or cooled. We use it to sautée.
The leaf lard, which comes from the fat around the kidneys and loin, is a cleaner lard and does not impart a "piggy" flavor so it is preferred for fine pastries!
Cracklins' are incredibly rich on their own. But salted and on top of pizza...a slice of heaven.
Time: 2-6 hours depending on the amount of lard you are attempting to render.
Set deep stock pot on cook top.
Chop pork fat into about 1-2 inch cubes and place in pot with enough water to cover the bottom of the pot. This is important to keep it from sticking!
Set heat at very low and cook until fat begins to render, leaving behind the solid bits.
This process is supposed to be done slowly to avoid burning and imparting too much of a "piggy" taste to the lard! Be patient!
Stir occasionally, scrapping the bottom to keep it from scalding.
When solid bits are golden brown, carefully (they are HOT!) remove them to a metal bowl to cool off some. Store in containers suitable for the fridge if you plan to use within 7 days or you can freeze them to keep for longer!
Allow rendered liquid lard to cool a bit before storing in containers suitable for the fridge.