I started working on the pork fat well before it was thawed out, as it’s much easier to cut it while it’s partially frozen. I have two large slow cookers, and I was planning to use both of them to render the fat out. It should be done over low heat for a long time, and I wasn’t about to monitor a pot on the stove all night.
Thinking back, my mother never rendered lard on low heat. She didn’t have the time for that. I remember it being quite hot by the time she scooped the crispy cracklings out. I’m pretty sure I’m remembering burned bits, too! 😄
Having a large slow cooker or two would have made the job much easier for her!
Part way through cutting the fat up, I changed my mind.
I wasn’t going to do two slow cooker’s worth!
To fill this bowl, I finished off all the smaller pieces I could find. All three of them. 😄 I started cutting into the larger pieces, but they were still too frozen. Plus, I didn’t want to push my hands too far. They’ve been relatively pain free of late, and I would rather they stayed that way!
The small bowl on the side is the janky bits, with blood vessels or meat and the sliver skin. That was saved as a treat for the outside cats, which they were very happy to get!
There was enough pork fat left in the giant bowl that the lid still didn’t quite fit all the way closed, and I had to use the foil to cover it completely again. It’s now sitting on top of the freezer in the old kitchen. It’s going to be a very slow thaw in there! Which is okay. While I was cutting, the outside of the fat would be getting too soft to cut easily, while the inside of the bigger pieces were still too hard. A slow thaw won’t have the two extremes, and it should be easier to continue cutting up tomorrow.
They kinda look like cheese curds in there! 😄🧀
For a moment, while filling the slow cooker, I thought I’d have to dig out the second one, after all! I squished it just flat enough to make sure nothing would touch the underside of the lid. As it renders, it’ll get lower.
The slow cooker is now set on low for 8 hours, and then it’ll automatically switch to warm. It might need more time, so I’ll be checking it off an on throughout the night. I did add a small amount of water to get it going, and make sure it the bits don’t start burning before the fat starts rendering out.
Once it’s getting close to done, we’ll sterilize some jars – probably in 500ml sizes (pints) – to store the lard in. If we do decide to go with a larger size, I’d go with the 750ml jars, rather than the 1L/quart jars. I don’t see us using it fast enough to warrant that large of a jar.
Based on how much is left that needs to be cut up, we might actually be doing two more batches! It’s a shame the meat grinder I found while cleaning out the old kitchen has parts missing. A grinder would make the job much easier, and more fat would render out of the smaller pieces, too.
No matter! The job is getting done, and we’ll have a good supply of shelf stable, high smoke point, flavour neutral fat for our pantry.