Rural Brazil – Rendering Lard

The first time you kill a pig and keep all of the meat for yourself it can be a little overwhelming. There are a lot of parts of the pig that you either don’t know about or don’t know how to use. There is of course the usual cuts, like the loin and the ribs, but there’s a lot more to the animal then what you get at the supermarket. And then there is all of the fat. What do you do with all the fat from a pig? Obviously you can’t eat all of this, (although where I live it is very common to make pork rinds…recipe coming soon) and to just throw it out is a little bit of a waste.

Our first pig that we killed had a good amount of fat on him. I, excited to finally have my own meat and determined to use every last bit of it, decided to keep all of the fat and I figured that I would find a way to cook with it or just make tons of pork rinds! It was A LOT of fat and after a couple of weeks, some portions of pork rinds, and an overwhelming feeling that I wasn’t going to be able to use all of the fat, I began to research about lard soap making.

Soap making looked like a perfect solution to my fat problem and after a lot of research I got down to the business of rendering my own lard. Rendering lard is a super simple process and although there are some icky parts to it, it really isn’t that bad.

So, here goes, how to render your own lard!

How to render lard

Grinding all of the fat!

Step 1: If you have a meat grinder, chop all of the fat into medium to small-sized cubes, making sure to remove all skin and meat attached to the fat. If you do not have a meat grinder this step is going to be much more tedious. You need to cut the fat as finely as possible. Having the fat finely chopped ensures that you get more lard and that the fat does not brown or burn when heating it, becoming hard and unusable!

How to render lard

Freshly ground lard in the pan and beginnning to heat.

Step 2: This is for all people using a meat grinder. Take the chopped fat and pass it through the meat grinder. This is the yuckiest step in the process, but makes such a huge difference when rendering your own lard. By grinding all of the fat you ensure that the fat will not brown and harden while heating, resulting in a much higher lard yield! If you plan to render a lot of lard or do this on a regular basis I highly recommend investing in a meat grinder (you can find one HERE at, kitchen aid also sells as an attachment HERE). I own both of these and prefer the manual heavy-duty grinder.

How to render lard

Beginning to boil and liquify.

Step 3: Transfer all of the fat to a large pan (I use the largest pan I have, but I also try to render as much lard as possible when I do this). Place on a medium to low heat. Stirring occasionally, bring the fat to a slow boil. As the fat heats it will begin to melt and liquid will begin to form. The length of this process will depend on how much lard you are rendering. In the pictures I have here, I was rendering about 5 kg and to complete the whole process it took about 2 hours. It is a good idea to do this with all of your windows open to keep a good air circulation. I always find that the smell of fat can permeate throughout the whole house which I don’t like!

How to render lard

Almost ready to pour off most of the fat!

Step 4: When about 3/4 of the fat has melted pour the liquid fat through a metal strainer into storage jars (I use regular jamming jars). At this point you will be left with a lot of gritty-like bits of fat, return this to the heat and render for some more time about 10 to 20 minutes.

I do “two rendering batches” so that I guarantee a clean first batch and a dirtier second batch. You will not be able to melt all of the fat, so I do a “second” batch as a way to try and get more from the fat, but this will be a browner lard!

You can use the leftover fat in your cooking if you like, fry them up so they get nice and brown and you can use them with potatoes or as seasoning in other dishes.

How to render lard

Batch one finished and ready to be put into jars. You can notice the brown chunks at the bottom, these bits I reheat to get my second batch.

Step 5: Let the fat cool, as it cools it will become white and solid. Store for 3 to 6 months at room temperature. You do not need to refrigerate, although I do know of some people who do!

If you have any questions please let me know. Happy Lard Rendering!

How to render lard

In the jars and cooling!

How to render lard

All cooled and ready to use!



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