Rendering Fat At Home

Rendering fat and lard kept in a jar

What is rendered fat?

Rendering fat from raw fats is simple, inexpensive, and gives you an easy source to an amazingly rich cooking ingredient. It is the process of slowly cooking solid raw fats to evaporate water and separate it into purified fat for cooking. Save pieces of fat from cooking until you have enough to render or get it from a newly butchered animal. Pork fat, for example, can be collected from the back, leg, or shoulder of the pig for rendering lard.

Chill before rendering fat.

To prepare for rendering fat, it should be ground up or chopped to allow for quicker heating. Grinding or chopping up fat or lard is easier to do if it is cold. You don’t want it to be frozen. For grinding, cut the meat into approximately half-inch cubes and place in the freezer for 45 minutes. Run it through your meat grinder following its owner manual. If you don’t have a meat grinder, you could also use a food processor or chop it up by hand. You can also use a grater for smaller pieces of fat.

 Chop or grind before rendering fat

Simmering to render fat.

Use a heavy bottomed pan to heat up the fat over very low heat. The fat should fill the pan at least halfway but not more than two-thirds up the size. This allows for quick and even heating without risking burning. As the fat is heating, stir every once in awhile and make sure it isn’t sticking to the bottom. If it does start to stick, add just a bit of water to loosen. After all the fat has melted, turn up the heat to medium and simmer. Keep an eye on it and continue stirring once in awhile. Turn off the heat once steam is no longer rising from the fat.

Strain rendering fat.

Allow the fat to cool in the pan for about half an hour. You want to be able to handle it without being burned but before it is completely solid. The solids will fall to the bottom of the pot. Ladle the fat through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container. Glass is best as it will be less reactive to the fat than plastic and won’t hold onto any flavors. Keep this refrigerated. Rendered fat will be firm and should not be watery or loose. If this is the case, it will need to be returned to the pan to render some more.

Properly stored, rendering fat at home gives you a supply that will last around 3 months in the fridge and up to 6 months in the freezer. Check it by smell to ensure it hasn’t gone rancid. Use rendered fat for cooking in sauces, baking, and confit. It will add a rich taste and texture to your foods!

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