Have you ever rendered your own tallow or lard? With our modern society, we tend to go into a grocery store and buy specific cuts of beef or pork, and never even see a significant ammount of fat – certainly not enough to bother rendering. But if you raise your own meat, or buy from a local farmer, or if like me, your husband got a super fat deer last hunting season, rendering fat is a very useful skill.
Note: Some local butcher shops, which you can look up in the yellow pages, also sell raw animal fat for home rendering – you just have to ask.
I remember when I was a kid, living in an Amish community, everybody would get together and butcher their hogs over the course of two days. The lard rendering – which is the exact same process as tallow rendering – was done outside in large cast iron kettles, over an open fire on the second day.
Without a community butchering party, I’ve found that the easiet thing for me to do, is to freeze the fat, and render it in small batches whenever I have time or need. Up until recently, I’ve done this on the stove top, but with this last batch of fat, I decided to shake things up a little, and try the crockpot method.
I must say, it was quite a time saver! Dicing fat is pretty quick work, and after that, I just let the crockpot babysit it all night. Then, in the morning, it was ready to strain. I really enjoyed not having to stir and watch it like a hawk.
The one drawback is that if you want good cracklings, you’ll have to finish them in a pot on the stove top in order to get them crispy.
DIY Crock Pot Tallow
Honestly, this is so easy, you don’t even need formal instructions, but here they are anyway:
- Fat from beef, venison (for tallow), or pork (for lard)
Dice fat into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes, or grind it using a meat grinder.
Place into a crockpot and cook on high for several hours (overnight works well), until cracklings are a nice, deep brown.
Strain through several layers of cheesecloth, and store in the refrigerator.
It really is that easy! And your homemade tallow will be of so much better quality than anything you can buy.
Note: Tallow becomes quite hard as it cools – in fact, it’s often used for making candles because of this. Even so, I have found it quite easy to clean up any spills with a hot rag and some dish detergent (Dawn is my favorite).