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Rendering is the process of separating the actual fat from the fatty tissue of an animal.

The fat on you pork chop is tissue with little pockets that hold the fat.  Lard is the fat after it is separated; cracklings are the tissue that has been cooked in the fat during the rendering.

The rendered fat from deer, cattle, buffalo, sheep and many other animals is most often called tallow, with bears it it’s called fat,  with geese it is called goose grease.

To do rendering one needs a large kettle, I like cast iron because it don't get hot spots as easy when starting up.  One also needs the fat of an animal with as much of the meat removed as possible.

Cut the fat into cubes about one inch in size.   Place in cold kettle and put just a little heat to it, to little is better than two much.  One needs to melt the fat with out burning it or any of the tissue.

Stir often and when you get about a half-inch of melted fat in the kettle you can turn the heat up a bit.  Keep stirring and the melted fat will increase,  When you have most of it melted you can turn up the heat fairly high, one needs to get it hot enough to cook the tissue and boil out all traces of water, the water will turn the rendered fat rancid quickly.

One does not want to get it hot enough to smoke, this breaks down the fat.  If one want to use a thermometer do, about 300 degrees F or a little less is fine.  When all the water has boiled out and the tissue is all cooked you let it cool and set up some cheesecloth to strain it.   When the temp reaches about 150degrees F strain it and let it cool.  I simply keep mine in clean canning jars and use a canning lid.

One must be very careful and not wander out of the kitchen when rendering, a trip to any other room should include turning off the heat, a fire involving this much fat could ruin your whole day not to mention your home.  Never put water on a grease fire, a lid or something like a cookie sheet that completely covers the kettle would be the best way, if not a C rated fire extinguisher will also work, but will make one terrible mess.

If rendering lard save the cracklings to make crackling corn bread, a favorite period recipe.


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