Picture of Rendering Your Own Pork Lard- And Why You Might Want to Do It!
I don't remember a lot from my high school classes anymore, but something my Biology teacher told us really stood out in my mind; so much so that I remember it to this day.  He told us that when he was a kid people weren't overweight and sick, despite cooking with fats, using butter, and drinking whole milk.  He, of course, attributed it to my generation's lack of exercise.  I didn't doubt that a lack of exercise played a role, but it never made sense to me that a decrease in the amount of exercise was the only reason for the change in the way we look and feel.
It wasn't until years later that it started to make sense to me.  So, maybe it wasn't in spite of our reduction in fats that we have gotten more ill and overweight, but rather because of it.  Fats have been replaced by sugar which has since been shown to fuel cancer, bring up cholesterol levels, and cause, either directly or indirectly, heart disease and many of the problems that we can develop health-wise.  Not only are people finally realizing that a low fat diet isn't as good for you as was once thought, but neither are the supposedly healthier fats (ahem, think margarine) that we have traded for the traditional fats that our ancestors used.
Years ago tallow (made from beef fat, aka. suet) and lard were used quite commonly used in cooking.  If you actually look at the profile of traditionally made and rendered animal fats, they don't really look that bad.  They have a high percentage of monounsaturated fats, the ones that are supposed to be so good for you in olive oil.  What is supposed to be bad about them is the also high percentage of saturated fats, but little by little researchers are realizing that saturated fats were likely unfairly demonized.  Even at my last CE course about nutrition several years back, we were already being advised that coconut oil, despite being so high is saturated fats, was one of the healthiest fats that you can cook with because of its stability, amongst other benefits.  Even a healthy oil like olive oil isn't necessarily so healthy once it is heated to the high temperatures needed for frying, so it is better reserved for using raw.
I have come to believe that the more natural, and less processed something is, the more likely that it is good for you.  I'm not an expert, though, but rather someone who spends a lot of time reading about these things.  The truth is that once saturated fats were demonized, they weren't studied much anymore, so there really isn't much information available about them.  What I can say is that I couldn't find any real studies that would show that they actually were bad.  In fact, certain diets, like the GAPS diet incorporate using animal fats as the fats of choice for trying to heal the body.
I put off trying to render myself for quite awhile, though, because somehow rendering fat seemed like it was going to be something very difficult or scary to do.  I had gotten over my intimidation to all the new words for me like suet and tallow, and the negative connotations to the word lard, but that drove me to buy some lard from the store.  The problem?  Supermarket lard isn't very good.  It usually has other ingredients added and just doesn't have the same taste or texture that you get with homemade.  Still, I kept reading about how other people rave about foods cooked in animal fats, or how flaky pastries and pie crusts become when made with it.  Plus, I love mantecados, a Spanish shortbread made with lard that is very popular here at Christmas.  So, I finally tried it myself.

What you will need:
-Pork fat (I usually use around 2-3 pounds)
-crock pot or stove and pan
-water (optional)

Zclip1 year ago

My god, dude, thank you so much for this instructable!!! I'm living in the Philippines for the next few years before moving back to Texas, and I've been trying to make tortillas, no recipe I can find that uses oil instead of lard seems to work or taste right. I've been to several stores to find lard or even shortening, but to no avail. I always get sent to some other store that either also doesn't have it, or flat out doesn't exist. communication IS a big factor here, but at one butcher shop, I ask for "lard, it's made from pig fat,,you know, for cooking" and the lady sez "Oh LARD, got across the market to (store that doesn't exist), they will have it." and to make sure I asked in a more comprehensive manner, I asked her "What is the word for 'Lard' in Tagalog?", her reply was "Oh,,, Lard." though later at another place, another person told me it was called "Sleeping Oil" (because the oil is sleeping, it won't run like a liquid, as best I could gather). Anyways, thank you again for this, you have saved me from power-walking the path to madness.

tidje (author)  Zclip1 year ago
Hahaha- I'm glad it helps you!
I'm all too familiar with trying to find things in other countries.
I hope the tortillas turn out well. If you're in a pinch, coconut oil, which I'm guessing might be easier to find in the Philippines, also works well for tortillas when it the solid state. (If it's cold enough, it turns to solid. If it's too warm out, you can chill it in the fridge and use it quickly before it liquifies.)
Kurogami2 years ago
My grandma usually make this one. And the cracklings is quite good. She usually chop it thinly (not in cubic shapes as you do). It surely taste crisp and salty (seems my grandma add a bit if salt to it) :D
thebear12 years ago
good instructable     i can rememver when i help mom and pop do this in a big black pot over a fire outside after we had kill and clean a hog for the meat  and the cracklings are good to eat
thank you for sharing this
Okara2 years ago
Thumbs up!