Rendering lard is super simple to begin with. It’s even easier in a crockpot.
Take the pork fat you have trimmed up and saved, and pop it in the freezer. It’s much easier to cut when frozen. Once it’s warmed up, it starts to get soft and greasy, and more difficult to cut into pieces. The smaller the pieces you cut your fat into, the faster it will melt.
Add your lard pieces to your crockpot, and add about 1/2 cup (or so) of water. The measurement really doesn’t have to be precise. The water helps to prevent the fat from burning at the bottom of your slow cooker, and will evaporate during the rendering process.
Depending on how hot your crockpot gets, you can use either the low or high setting. If your slowcooker gets really hot (my small slowcooker does, while my two larger ones do not), then use the low setting, but it will take several hours longer. The total time involved is completely dependent upon how much lard you are rendering and what temperature you are using.
As your fat melts, you will start to see bits and pieces of skin, shreds of tissue, etc. separate from the fat. I used a mesh strainer and fished out the unmelted fat, plus those bits and pieces (which will become “cracklings”) and put them aside in a temporary bowl, and then strained out the melted fat into a storage container.
I then returned the yet unmelted fat plus the future cracklings to the crockpot, and went for round two of melting. At this point, I was about three hours in, and my kitchen really did start to smell. It actually wasn’t a horrible smell, but it definitely was NOT the lovely aroma of bacon. At first, I was worried that somehow the fat went rancid. But no, that’s just how natural lard smells.
I only needed to strain the cracklings out and pour the fat from the crockpot through the mesh sieve a second time, and the fat was rendered into lard. It was at first a golden color, but turned into creamy white once it cooled in the refrigerator. I now have just over two pounds love lovely lard that is slated to be used in soap making.
If you do not have a slowcooker, this is perfectly fine to do on the stove top. A friend of mine has a well-written article on her blog on how to render beef fat, which she did on the stove top. Rendering lard would be done the same way. She documented her article with photos at each step, which I really should have done (my apologies, it was an over-scheduled, multitasking day). To read her article and check out her photos, click here.