I was going to start the third and (hopefully!) last batch tonight, but it’s coming up on 5pm, and I just finished jarring up the second batch a little while ago. It can wait until tomorrow!
At times like this, I really appreciate the uninsulated old kitchen. This time of year, it’s basically a walk in freezer or refrigerator, depending on how cold things are outside. The remaining leaf lard is the thickest chunk we got and was still really frozen when I worked on the rest, yesterday, but as it sits in the old kitchen, it will soften more, yet still be frozen. That makes is a lot easier to chop, but also gives me a bit of flexibility in time for getting it processed. Yesterday evening, I had to get the girls to take over some stuff because my hips suddenly decided to go crunchy on me (they were fine by morning!), while my shoulders have started to really hurt from all the chopping. I’m doing it while sitting at the dining table, since there’s no way I can stand at a counter long enough to do it all, but the height while sitting isn’t very good, resulting in a lot of pain and stiffness right in the muscles where the neck and shoulder join. Which still hurts now, so I’m going to take an evening off from chopping.
I didn’t render the second batch in the slow cooker quite as long as the first batch; I’m curious to see if there is a noticeable difference in the colour of the lard. I might have had a touch less chopped fat in the second batch, but since I only have the depth in the slow cooker to go by, I can’t say for sure. Taking the solids out earlier did mean less liquid fat to jar up, and more volume to turn into cracklings later.
After removing the cracklings, I was able to fill six 500ml jars, with such a small amount left in the slow cooker, I just dumped the rest into the pan with the solids. After taking a break so the girls could use the kitchen, I started rendering the last of the fat out of the cracklings. While that was slowly heating up, I decided to take some leftover mashed potatoes and make them into potato patties. I just kneaded flour to the mashed potatoes until I got an dough somewhat thicker than bread dough, but not as dense as pasta dough. After breaking of sections and making them into rolls, I cut them into rounds, then pan fried them in some of the first batch cracklings lard. Enough to cover the bottom of the pan by about half an inch.
Lard has a high smoke point, so I could do these at almost deep fryer temperature. The higher the temperature, the less fat gets absorbed by the food. After cooking, they got laid out on a paper towel lined dish. They came out nice and crispy on the outside, with a smooth texture on the inside, and not at all greasy.
The lines that you see are because I set the cut rounds on a cooling rack until the pan was ready. If I’d laid them out on a plate, I would have had to flour the outsides to keep them from sticking, and I didn’t want to have burnt flour in the hot oil.
Here is the second batch of lard.
The first 6 jars were almost solid by the time the cracklings lard was done! I got another 1 1/2 pint size (500ml) jars out of the cracklings, making for a total of about 7 1/2 jars. The first batch was just under 8 jars total, so it came out very close.
The cracklings are once again laid out between paper towels, sandwiched between 9×13 baking trays and weighted down, so that cats can’t get at it!
One thing about handling all this fat for the past several days; even with constantly having to wash my hands with lots of soap, they haven’t been this soft in years!