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Old 07-03-2007, 10:34 AM   #1
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Talking Home rendered lard/cracklins

From a thread called Piecrust Ingredient Question
Quote:
Originally Posted by justplainbill
IMHO Even the commonly available lard which is typically adulterated with hydrogenated vegetable oil is better than Crisco. Bests results come from using home rendered lard.
...
A collateral benefit of home rendering can be some pretty tasty cracklins. They go great on salad and are pretty good alone with some salt or mixed in some goose or chicken schmalz and perhaps some chopped onion on a crusty slice of rye bread. Some might consider it even better then the onions and cheddar with crackers that one used to be able to 'nibble' on at McSorleys in NYC.
Quote:
Originally Posted by skilletlicker
Lest we hijack this thread, why don't you start a new one on the topic of home rendering lard and the collateral benefits including cracklins. If you have experience, I have questions.
Thanks for the warning/suggestion, Licker. Perhaps you’d care to start such a thread. . . .
Well okay, but I'm starting this not because I have alot to say but because I want to hear more from you. By the way, my post was in no way intended as a warning.

I doubt that the pork fat in my freezer is properly defined as lard. I skim the refrigerated fat off home made pork stock or the cooking liquid from a braised pork butt. Then I simmer it to evaporate off the liquid that adhered to the bottom of fat layer. This yields pretty pure pork fat that might be slightly flavored by any vegetables and seasonings originally used. Obviously this doesn't produce cracklins. Remember, I'm not claiming this way is the best or even a satisfactory way to go about it. It's just what I do as the result of trial and error. It seems like I might add pork skin taken from feet, hocks and sometimes the butt to the pot of fat mentioned above but I've never tried it.
  1. How do you render lard?
  2. How do you make cracklins?
  3. Could the skin from a smoked hock be used?
  4. Do you make pork rinds? If so, how?

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Old 07-03-2007, 12:27 PM   #2
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From Leaf Lard :


Originating from the area surrounding the kidneys, this lard, once ground and rendered, makes the finest lard for pastries. Must be rendered before using.

*NOTE* Instructions for rendering. Cut into 1/4" cubes or grind through a 1/4" plate. Using a large stockpot add 1/4" of water in the bottom, to prevent scorching, add leaf lard and set heat to a low medium. Stir frequently to prevent scorching and do not add to batch once started. DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED. As the lard renders, the cracklings will float to the surface. When the lard is almost done and the cracklings have lost the rest of their moisture, they will sink to the bottom. At this point turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Then carefully ladle into hot jars. Strain the cracklings and the remaining fat through a fine cheese cloth. Fill the jars to the top-the lard will contract quite a bit while cooling. Chill as quickly as possible fo a fine grained lard. Seal the jars and freeze for long term storage. Save the cracklings for adding flavor to egg dishes, biscuits, cornbread, soups, and other food as desired.
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Old 07-03-2007, 01:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justplainbill
From Leaf Lard :
Originating from the area surrounding the kidneys, this lard, once ground and rendered, makes the finest lard for pastries. Must be rendered before using.

*NOTE* Instructions for rendering. Cut into 1/4" cubes or grind through a 1/4" plate. Using a large stockpot add 1/4" of water in the bottom, to prevent scorching, add leaf lard and set heat to a low medium. Stir frequently to prevent scorching and do not add to batch once started. DO NOT LEAVE UNATTENDED. As the lard renders, the cracklings will float to the surface. When the lard is almost done and the cracklings have lost the rest of their moisture, they will sink to the bottom. At this point turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Then carefully ladle into hot jars. Strain the cracklings and the remaining fat through a fine cheese cloth. Fill the jars to the top-the lard will contract quite a bit while cooling. Chill as quickly as possible fo a fine grained lard. Seal the jars and freeze for long term storage. Save the cracklings for adding flavor to egg dishes, biscuits, cornbread, soups, and other food as desired.
As I understand it, the Leaf Lard link above offers to sell pork leaf fat from the kidney area for $4.50 lb. You would then render at home into lard. Looking at the page I wonder of the "Note" containing the rendering instructions might not have been pasted from another source that discussed rendering fat from other parts of animal. If I'm not mistaken cracklings come from the skin (see Cracklins). It is surprising, to me at least, that there would be skin attached to this product. I wonder how much weight is lost in the rendering process.

Hunting around for information on this topic brought me to this excellent article, and this one from the other end of the spectrum. For entertainment purposes only, here is a quote from the latter.
Quote:
. . .home-rendered lard is not hydrogenated and is therefore not saturated fat. It ranks with olive oil on the nutritional scale.
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Old 07-03-2007, 01:39 PM   #4
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As stated in the excellent NewsTribune article:

'
HOW TO RENDER LEAF LARD
• Remove any blood veins or meat attached to the lard. Cut lard into 1/4-inch cubes or grind through a 1/4-inch plate.
• Fill the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot with 1/4-inch of water and place over low heat. Add a small amount of lard. When it starts to melt, add more. Repeat with remaining lard. Do not fill the pot too high, as the hot fat can easily boil over. Stir frequently to prevent scorching.
• As the lard slowly renders, cracklings will float to the surface. When the cracklings sink to the bottom, this is your signal that rendering is finished. Turn off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
• Carefully strain the rendered lard and cracklings through cheese cloth. Ladle strained lard into smaller containers. To ensure fine-grained lard, chill as soon as possible. Use as your particular recipe specifies. Puyallup Fair pie contest
• Puyallup Fair: Friday-Sept. 25'
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Old 07-03-2007, 01:46 PM   #5
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Bill, have you seen the pre-rendered leaf lard? Does it contain skin, or am I mistaken about what exactly cracklins are?
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Old 07-03-2007, 02:07 PM   #6
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Yes I've seen plenty, with a little imagination I guess you could say it looks like white leaves. It's attached to a somewhat cellophane-like skin. If you've ever butchered a well fed deer their body cavity contains fat that looks about the same as leaf lard BUT I suspect, if it's anything like the rest of a deer's fat, the stuff inside the deer is more aptly described as tallow; good only for candles and maybe soap.
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Old 07-03-2007, 02:24 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by justplainbill
Yes I've seen plenty, with a little imagination I guess you could say it looks like white leaves. It's attached to a somewhat cellophane-like skin. If you've ever butchered a well fed deer their body cavity contains fat that looks about the same as leaf lard BUT I suspect, if it's anything like the rest of a deer's fat, the stuff inside the deer is more aptly described as tallow; good only for candles and maybe soap.
Aha, this cellophane-like skin is a membrane then, not the epidermis from which hair grows? It produces cracklins also?

Sadly, I'm too ignorant to grasp the deer reference. I've broken down big animal parts into smaller ones but never butchered a whole mammal.
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Old 07-03-2007, 02:37 PM   #8
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Pretty much, plus I think ther's some fiber in the fat that separates when you render. Lard rendered from fatback and bellies is not as highly prized and I'd rather eat the skin and fat from a fresh ham right along with the ham.
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Old 07-03-2007, 04:18 PM   #9
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Here's what I've gotten out of this so far.
  1. Leaf lard is too rich for my blood.
  2. Next time I'm boiling the liquid out of pork fat I'll try adding some pork skin and see what happens. Not yet convinced that membranes make cracklins.
  3. The next pork butt I get with a thick layer of fat, I'll slice some fat slabs to experiment with pork rinds.
I hope there will be more input on these topics.
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Old 11-02-2007, 09:00 AM   #10
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rendering pork fat for lard

A late contribution...

What I use: fat from any pork that is *not* smoked (ham) or salted (fat back I've bought is salted). Butchers may have pork fat trimmings for sale (even butcher sections in a supermarket may have it). Despite its excellent reputation, for me, leaf lard is too expensive and hard to find.

If you're trimming your own, collect fat chunks in a heavy-duty zip-lock bag in the freezer until you have enough to render. OK if skin is attached, though I don't bother with cracklins after the fat is rendered.

Equipment: large cast iron skillet or chicken fryer (no lid required); fine seive; cheese cloth; heat-proof bowl; *flame tamer also recommended*.

Put the skillet on *low* heat. If your burner can't keep a low, even heat, use a flame tamer. Dump in the fat. The fat should be in a single layer or as close to it as possible. Walk away. Revisit about every 30 minutes or so to check progress and flip the fat pieces (they tend to curl up as they render). Make sure the heat stays low! There should be very little sputtering or bubbling as the fat renders. Fat is fully rendered when the pieces are all shriveled up.

Off heat and let cool until it is safe to handle. Line a fine seive with a double layer of cheese cloth and put this over any heat proof bowl. Pour fat through seive into bowl. Discard any and all solid pieces left in the seive. Let fat sit until it is cool enough to put in the final container(s) of your choice (I use 1-cup or 2-cup canning jars - you may want to avoid plastic). Freeze.

Pig fat should be clear and colorless when liquid and hardens to the familiar white stuff as it solidifies. If it has a tannish color when liquid, your heat was too high and the fat scorched or burnt slightly. Throw it out.

(BTW, same method applies to chicken fat. Chicken fat should be clear and golden yellow when liquid and hardens to a very light yellow as it solidifies.)

I can understand your desire to use fat left over from pork stock but it will always contain some impurities even after the water has been driven off from the reheating. You can use it for deep fat frying or sauteeing but I wouldn't use it for pastry or other baking.

Your cast iron skillet will love you for performing this task. There's nothing like animal fat for (re)seasoning and maintaining the smooth surface of a cast iron pan.

If you collect fat pieces in the freezer, the fat doesn't have to be completely defrosted before rendering. It only needs to defrost sufficiently to be seperated into chunks. There may be some initial sputtering if there has been minor water condensation during freezer storage. It obviously will take slightly longer to render the fat.

Always remember, low steady heat is your friend. Don't rush the job.
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