Lard & Animals Fats
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 interchangeably.

Where to find animal fats

Buy 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 about 1 pint lard.

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
Tallow, 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 "supermarkets".

Chicken, Duck and Goose Fat
These 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 or refrigerator.

Rendering animal fat into clean lard.
Roasting method = best taste
Boiling method = clean (whitest), preserves best

. Boiling Method

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 water.

Use a slotted spoon to remove rendered lard once it has hardened. Store in freezer.

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

. Roasting Method

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 or freezer.

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 Sections with Bones In 

Put the piece of pig such as  a head, half-head, tails or feet into a 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 cooking.
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.

To 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 bone broth.

Cooking with Animal Fat
If 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.


Fat 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.

Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient  With Recipes by Jennifer McLagan

The 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.

"It isn't because you're dirty,
It isn't because you're clean,
It's 'cause ya got the whoopin' cough
From eatin' margareen"
... Irish childrens' chant.

Once upon a time*, lard and animal fat were recognized as the healthy foods that they are.
In some countries and cultures, lard is considered good for fertility, and eating lard is recommended both to women who want to become pregnant, as well as to men who want to be able to start a family with their partner.
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*That time being before they invented a way to make cheap, profitable vegetable fat.

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