Pasture raised, Berkshire pig fat from Green Being Farm.
As opposed to this, rendering animal fat is an incredibly easy process. All you need is a healthy, grass-fed source of animal fat and a big pot. Cut the fat into cubes, place them in the pot, and place over a low temperature. You can use the oven on a very low setting as well (for our oven, that's about 180). Stir it up every 30 minutes or so. When the fat has sufficiently rendered, pour into glass jars. Store in the fridge.
The rendering state of affairs after about an hour.
It can take upwards of five hours, depending on how much fat you're rendering at once. In the pictures, I was rendering a large amount and it ended up taking about six hours.
Allo lardo. Voila, it's lard! I got about 8 jars out of the deal
Why would you want to render animal fat? Well, for one, it's the only stable fat to cook with. Vegetable oils are very unstable and hence quickly oxidize making them a poor choice for cooking (some would say they're already oxidized by the time they're put on the grocery store shelves). For a multitude of other reasons to include saturated fats in your diet, check out the links below.
- The brilliance that is Dr. Stephan Guyenet: Stephan's entire blog is a treasure-trove of information. "The Dirty Little Secret of the Diet-Heart Hypothesis" is a grand place to start.
- Weston A Price's primer on fats. It's a good place to start if you're still convinced that vegetable oils are a healthy choice.
- The Daily Lipid. All of it.
- Lard is making a comeback.
- "Lard, the New Health Food" by Food & Wine.