For years when the kids were small I used to buy them gold foil wrapped chocolate coins for St. Patrick's Day. Then, after we moved to Wisconsin I was unable to find any chocolate coins at the store -- until this year. Lara had been lamenting that the Leprechauns hadn't brought her any gold for a long time. I told her that maybe our territorial gnome that lives in the chicken coop ran the Leprechauns off whenever they tried to come, but that we would try to entice one to sneak past the gnome. So, we made some Irish Soda bread. We thought he might like it better if we gave him some gold, too, so we added golden raisins to the dough. Our ploy worked and Lara (and Ed) were very happy to eat their Leprechaun gold!
Tom was at the butcher in Phillips this week replenishing his kishka stash (I hate stinky blood sausage and refuse to cook it) and while he was gabbing with the butcher, somehow the conversation turned to lard. Now I had just been griping that when I went to the grocery store there wasn't any lard anywhere to be found. Tom mentioned this to the butcher who asked if Tom would like some pork fat. He said that when most people buy an animal for their freezer, they don't want the fat because it has to be rendered. So Tom bought home a garbage bag full of ground up pork fat for me.
If anyone tells you that you can render fat inside your house and it won't smell, don't believe them. Have some scented candles on hand to light after you are done rendering.
Anyway, rendering pork fat into lard is really easy. This is how I did it:
First I pulled out my little roaster. It's a bit bigger than my crock pot and you can control the temperature, which is great. I set the temperature on 250°F. Then I put a cup of water in the bottom of the roasting pan and added some of the pork fat till the pan was about 2/3 filled. The water gets hot and starts the fat melting without burning it on the bottom of the pan. After a while the water evaporates and the fat melts leaving little browned pieces of meat or cartilage.
Strain out the browned bits and ladle the hot lard into clean, dry and hot canning jars. Cover the jars quickly with heated lids and bands and the jars will self-seal. Each batch took about 2 hours, and after the better part of one day I bottled 8 beautiful quarts of lard. (The chickens got the browned bits.) See how the lard turns a beautiful white as it cools.
It was really fun doing this and I'm glad to have learned another skill!
Till next time, be safe and well!