Animal fats are such things as lard, tallow, chicken, duck and goose fat or beef drippings. Lard
is the fat of pigs, tallow and drippings are the fat of beef. Either can be rendered
in the same ways. Tallow is a harder fat and is good for deep frying,
lard is especially good for baked goods, but either can be used
Where to find
lard that does not have BHT in it. In some places, you can find lard
without BHT near the butter section of a supermarket. If not, render
your own from pork pieces. Go
to a farmer's market, look for
someone selling pork, ask for pig fat (or "fatback", as it may be
called) and render it yourself. 1lb fat makes
Lard can also be rendered from pieces of pig that may otherwise be
thrown away, such as the head, tail or feet. Bacon fat can be considered the same as lard.
Tallow and Suet
also called suet, may be harder to find if you don't grow your own
beef, and even then it may be difficult to get it back from the
abbatoir if you cannot process your animals at home. Nevertheless, ask
around if you know any farmers and check out the shelves in the
markets. Don't expect to find any in the big stores called
Chicken, Duck and Goose Fat
bird fats may be easier to find than lard or beef tallow. They may come
in glass jars on the supermarket shelf next to the butter. If you roast
a bird, there will be a good deal of fat in the bottom of the roasting
pan. Skim off any that isn't used for gravy and store it in the freezer
Rendering animal fat into
Roasting method = best taste
Boiling method = clean (whitest), preserves best
Cut up pieces of fat (pork or beef are usual, but any pastured animal
fat will do), put them in a baked enamel saucepan and cover with water.
Put a cover on the pan and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat and simmer
at lowest heat for a couple hours.
Turn off heat and remove pieces of lard from pan.
Set aside or place pan in refrigerator or freezer and allow it to cool.
After lard in pan has cooled it will become a solid layer on top of the
Use a slotted spoon to remove rendered lard once it has hardened. Store
Return partially rendered pieces of fat to the pan and bring to a boil
again to continue rendering out more fat.
Alternatively, partially rendered pieces of fat can be placed directly
into a frying pan and used while cooking
Put pieces of lard or animal fat onto a baked enamel roasting pan. Put
in medium oven, or about 225 degrees F. As fat roasts, pour off melted fat and save in fridge
After lard has been poured off, the browned fat, called "cracklins",
can be eaten as is for a good, delicious, bacon-like tasting source of
lard or animal fat.
Making Lard from Pig
the piece of pig such as a head, half-head, tails or feet
baked enamel or pyrex baking pan, uncovered.
Put into a moderate oven and roast slowly.
About once on hour, depending on the size of the pork piece and depth
of the baking pan, take pan out of the oven and drain the juice at the
bottom into glass jars.
When the liquid in the jars has cooled, it will separate into fat and
gelatin. Put the gelatin in your soup. You can use the fat as is for
If you want a clean, white fat that will preserve longer, put it into a
baked enamel saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil and then
simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. When it is cool,
the water will be at the bottom of the pot and the clean lard will be
at the top.
finish using the rest of the pork piece, when it is cool, cut it with
knife for kitchen scissors into meat, fat and bones. The meat can be
used as pulled pork. If it is tough, simmer it in water until it
becomes tender. Return the fat pieces to the oven to continue roasting
to make lard and cracklings, as above. Add the bones to water to make
Cooking with Animal Fat
you are used to cooking with vegetable oil, you are probably used to
seeing a brown film that looks like plastic build up on pans or the
stove that you have to scrape off. You will be pleased to learn that
that layer of hardened oil does not form when you use animal fats. Use
lard and other animal fats whereever you have been using vegetable
fats. Replace Crisco with half lard or animal fat and half butter in
any baked recipe. Fry onions or potatoes ("French fries") in real
(animal) fat. Don't worry about how much fat is in a good, organic
potato cooked in lard. Both the lard and the potato are good food.
is not, as we have been told, "empty calories". Fat is the most
nourishing food we can eat and is full of vital substances. Eating a
piece of fat is like eating a vitamin pill. It does not make you fat.
Throughout most of human history people knew that fat was important for
their diet. I don't know why we in modern times have forgotten that, or
why our government and health institutions tell us otherwise.
An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient With
Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating by
Fergus Henderson. A little bit too heavy with the sugar, but it helps
explain the mysteries of some types of food preparation. Eliminate the
sugar or substitute honey or sucanat.