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  1. #1
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    Feb 2012
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    Two Old Guys Rendering Lard Part 1

    We haven't rendered lard since the the mid-90's when our Dad became debilitated with a severe stroke. He cooked everything under the sun with lard but us guys, not so much except in the pop-corn pot. Soooooo this year to rekindle the memories and to provide a little input to the youngsters coming up that have never been around it, the much older brother and I decided to pull out the old rendering tools and have a go at it once again.

    This tub contains about a hundred pounds (maybe less) of the normal fat under the hide. This year the hogs were skinned so a lot of the normal fat went with the skin.

    This container holds aboout 30 pounds of 'leaf-lard'....the softer and less dense fat lining the insides of the body cavity attached lengthwise from shoulder to ham. It cooks up a lot quicker than the regular fat, so should be added to the kettle only once the regular fat is 60 to 70% cooked. If added at the same time or added too soon, the leaf lard will become scorched and give the lard a bit of a tainted or burnt flavor.

    The leaf lard is usually just pulled from the inner cavity once the halves are hung, knifing is not normally required.

    Just a hand full of fat is dumped in while the kettle is starting to warm so you can coat the inner surface before dumping 40 or 50 pounds of fat in. You don't want any sticking inside the kettle so once we start, the paddle won't stop until the batch is ready.

    This old 36" kettle was my maternal grandmothers kettle salvaged from her belongings many, many decades ago and used every year since for rendering up until we quit. We still have our paternal grandfathers 30" kettle that the head meat was cooked in for years until it was replaced by a monstrous 60" kettle with a folding wooden top. Of course the five footer still resides with the much older brother and will remain there until called to duty again....

    Under the kettle is a 500,000 btu home made burner supplying the heat instead of wood. The absence of wood smoke blinding and watering a fellows eyes is a God-send !!! A sheet of light gage metal is wrapped around the kettle as a shroud to ensure even flow of heat up and around the sides.

    Probably 45 to 50 pounds of fat in the first batch....There's other prep work for the other to do as one continues the stirring. The old paddle was made of a piece of sawmill oak by the much older brother back in his high school days and shows the use well too.

    The end is rounded to match the round shape of the kettle bottom and the handle scorched and partially burnt at the edge of the kettle from flames licking up the kettle sides in the old days when cooking with wood.

    One of the things to be set up is a cooling vat filled with water for the lard containers to set in while straining the pieces of fat and the subsequent squeezing of the fat by the sausage press.

    Monitoring the temperature with an infra-red thermometer, right here is is cooking at 217 degrees F. To keep it from scorching, the temperature should not exceed 275 degrees while cooking. That was always hard to do with wood and I remember having to continually stoke the fire with cook-stove sized pieces continually OR quickly kick out a portion of the flaming fire from under the kettle to allow its temperature to lower....responding to a loud bark of a swift kick in the pants from the old man....

    With the propane burner, a slight twist of the valve adjusts the flame easily to modulate temps in the 250 degree range.

    Hard to believe so much cooks down to so little....but here its been held steady at 250 -260 degrees for an hour or so and very near completion.

    ...of course the cracklin' pans and the requisite salt shaker has to be set in place....I remember rendering lard back at the home place in years long past some of the guys would sneak a quick snort from some home made wine kept in a sack in the woodshed...maybe even something a little stronger on occasion...but we won't go there today.

    Close, but not quite ready....just a little too much white showing yet. There's still some lard to cook out. On a side note, the big dipper is a WW 2 mess hall dipper our grandfather bought in St Louis sometime after the war. A number of similar items still bless our presence.

    When done cooking, this dipper is used to transfer the cooked fat/liquid lard to an old grain sack doing double duty as a strainer. Once the pure lard is strained, the fat is then transferred into the sausage press.

    Preparing the grain sack, one corner is pinned up to the opposite side to create a point at the bottom. The point is then dropped into the first container and the liquid strains right out the point or oozes out the sides and runs down the outside to the point and directly into the large can.

    Several sets of pliers and/or channel locks must be used to hold the sack as the dippers of 260 degree lard and fat is dumped in. A fellow still sustains an occasional burn or splatter to exposed skin.

    This has to be split into two posts because there is a limit on text....hopefully Part 2 can continue without too much trouble.

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  3. #2
    Senior Member
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    Here is PART 2: I apologize about having to clidk on the links, but I had to copy and paste the whole thing when ATF wouldn't let me post it because it was too big. In doing so, just the image codes show up in the second half instead of the pictures.... Sorry about that. Too much text it said. Never saw that before...

    [IMG] jok3bu.jpg[/IMG]

    Here goes the first batch...A grand-nephew, Kyle is on my right, a cousin Lumberlady is straight across and wielding the dipper is the much older brother and I am....well.....I am doing my typical goofing off. Camera in one hand, paddle in the other...remember we don't want to scorch it at this stage of the game.

    [IMG] tr3vwm.jpg[/IMG]

    Once enough fat is in the strainer sack to fill the sausage press, another few minutes are required to let the residual lard drain on through and into the virgin container. This will be the best lard free from tiny cracklin' particulate because it has not been 'squeezed' though the press.

    [IMG] bw1wra.jpg[/IMG]

    The point of the strainer sack has another function....when dumping the cooked fat into the press, grab the tip of the point with another pair of pliers to control the dumping process. Its tricky to get that done without dropping pieces out the top or over the edge of the press.

    [IMG] kxcsjf.jpg[/IMG]

    Once in the press, a lot more lard just runs out the spout. Then a slooooooow cranking of the handle gently squeezes the residual lard and leaves behind nothing but good ol' steaming hot cracklins' !!! Guaranteed to block arteries with every succulant bite !!! Colestoral level was elevated by 50 points that morning for sure.

    If you crank too fast, lard will squish out over the top of the press-plate and make a mess of the whole operation.

    [IMG] xtfdnp.jpg[/IMG]

    It takes two fillups of the rendered fat to a batch of cracklins. You can do more, but you force more of the tiny pieces of fat out of the press and into the lard if you do. It doesn't really contaminate the lard so to speak, but it will go rancid quicker than purely virgin lard.

    What you're seeing here is the bottom plate of the sausage press. This plate is placed in the bottom of the press-basket when used for lard, not for pressing sausage into casing.

    [IMG] yyinh6.jpg[/IMG]

    This is the basket that drops into the press for squeezing lard. The holes are for the lard to escape out the sides and down to the spout. The bottom in inserted inside this basket and the top plate of the sausage press is replaced with a smaller one that fits inside the basket.

    The top plate for pressing sausage is a bit larger because the lard basket is removed for sausage. One cannot be used for the others operation.

    [IMG] 4vizl4.jpg[/IMG]

    Here's an appropriate picture...a couple 'ham bones' dumping the last of the pig fat into the last batch. I'm the handsome one, the much older brother is the old guy...

    [IMG] 7wjrwy.jpg[/IMG]

    If you really wanna know what was going on, a picture is worth a thousand words..... The much younger cousin, Lumberlady, stopped by to deliver her normal devilment so we promptly placed the paddle in her hand, the much older brother took up residence on the stool warming his hands over the kettle and me...well, I continued to goof off because now I can see we got someone else to do all the hard work.... and as the saying goes...'and a good time was had by all'.

    [IMG] 0onf6d.jpg[/IMG]

    So we ended up with two batches of cracklins' and approximately 10 gallons of lard. The majority of the lard is pure virgin and a couple gallons came out of the press. The press-lard will be used in the shops for lubricant on the milling machines and metal lathes and the virgin lard will be used for the occasional pie crust and some good old grandmas lye soap...but that's another story.

    [IMG] uaomff.jpg[/IMG]

    Here's the two stainless steel containers for catching the lard out of the press and the grain sack sitting the the ice filled chilling vats of water. Its got to chill a little bit before transferring to the final containers if they are plastic, but the metal cans can receive it hot as can be. We sat them in the snow and packed it around the edges to quicken the pace.

    [IMG] vmwsn8.jpg[/IMG]

    A 2 1/2 gallon container starting to chill down. I had to keep packing snow around it for a pretty good while as it started out over 250 degrees.

    [IMG] cfb7rt.jpg[/IMG]

    Even the brown looking one will turn white as it least thats the way the rest started out and they are all white and solid now. We kept the pressed lard separate for use in the shops as stated before and this is the good stuff... Well, the three peanut containers on top are all for the shop.

    [IMG] 8abpuh.jpg[/IMG]

    All morning long we picked select meaty pieces of fat out of the kettle to salt and munch on...and may I say they were all quite tasty. Even though I shortened my life by at least a year by doing so, it was still an enjoyable endeavor. Ahhhhh...salt and pig fat, just what the doctor ordered !!

    So it was a perfect lunch with a big pot of chile laced with fresh cracklins' instead of plain old crackers. I feel my carotid artery constricting just by looking at the picture.

    Oh well, my best friend owns the local funeral home and he's promised my wife a good deal !!

    ...I just hope she doesn't have to take advantage of the offer anytime soon...
    Last edited by missouri massey man; Today at 09:46 AM. Reason: To add an apology for the image codes

  4. #3
    Senior Member 4imnotright's Avatar
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    Feb 2012
    Waterloo, IL.
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    Wendell, it's always interesting to see the variations of doing the same job by different people. We do ours a little different then you do, but the results are still the same.
    Glad to see that you now have the good lard in your life.
    When Mom made lie soap, she always made 2 batches. One was for company, made with good lard only and a small bottle of toilet water ( perfume ) and the other was for every day use, which consisted of good and used lard and rinds. Glad you were able to educate the younguns on the finer art of getting the good lard in their life. Maybe the next time you do it, I can come and help keep things stirred up.
    1956 Massey Harris 333
    1948 Allis Chalmers C w/ wide front end

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