Why make your own lard? Because the commercially available one here in Malaysia is mostly terrible and expensive and you don’t get all that wonderful crackling with it either!
Our prime objective is to make lard to cook with, but a very welcome by-product is obviously the just mentioned pork crackling. I like to leave the crackling just slightly undercooked. Not so much that it’s horrible to eat, but with enough life left in it, so that when I use it to make noodles or anything else, I can still refry it for a few minutes without burning it. If you plan to just eat it as a snack, just fry it to a perfectly crisp state.
This recipe will give you about 1.5 litres of lard and two 350ml jars of crackling, depending on how much of it you eat before it even reaches the bottle.
- 2 kg hard pork fat (fatback)
- 50g plain, fine salt
Now, before we start, one word of advice; I don’t recommend making less than half the quantity in this recipe. It’s just as much work to make 250ml than it is to make 1500ml and it won’t be any faster either.
Put all the pork fat into the pot that you are planning on rendering it in and salt the fat evenly. Leave it to cure for 25 minutes. Your pot should be filled almost to the brim. Fill the pot with water, stir the fat and drain the water off. Do this 3 times in total. Whatever water you have left in the pot after the last draining will be enough to get your rendering started. Do not add extra, it’s just going to delay the process.
Turn on the heat and boil at high heat until the fat has firmed up and become springy. Keep the heat on high until all the water has evaporated and the lard has started to render, then turn it down low, so you’re proceeding at a low simmer. It’s a pain, but the slower you go, the more fat you will extract and the better crackling you will get.
It can take a few hours for the lard to properly extract from the fat, so be patient. It is not necessary to stir the pot all the time. In fact, the fat will reach its sticky stage just before it crisps up and stirring it at that time will be annoying, as it tends to stick to the spoon and come out of the pot in one huge messy island, so just leave it alone until it has unstuck itself.
Once the crackling is separated into individual bits, you’re almost done. I like to turn the heat off completely and leave the crackling to cool in the fat. I actually just leave it to sit overnight and then reheat it again the next day. Do not cover the pot until the lard has cooled, or you will have condensation dripping into the fat.
When you are ready to bottle, heat the lard and crackling back to about 120ºC, line two baking trays with kitchen towel and scoop the crackling onto it. I like to strain the lard through a strainer and a fine cloth to get as clean a fat as possible, but this is not absolutely necessary. Reheat the lard once again to 120ºC and pour it directly into clean glass jars, as high up as it will comfortably go and close the lid immediately. The hot fat will ensure no bacteria will grow in your jars or on top of your lard.
I fill the crackling into bottles and then place them into a 150ºC oven for 20 minutes, then close them immediately. It helps to keep the crackling fresh for longer. You will still need to keep both lard and crackling in the chiller. Fat will go rancid after a while and that’s not at all nice.
NOTE: Make sure the cloth you use to strain the lard can take a high temperature. If in doubt, dip a corner into the pot and if it shrivels you know to go get another one.