Rendering is the process of melting animal fat in order to pour it off and leave behind any bits of meat. It's a simple process, really. It requires cutting chunks of fat into smaller pieces, and then melting them in a heavy bottomed kettle, such as a cast iron dutch oven. The bottom of the pot is covered with water, to keep the fat from browning before it begins to melt. As it melts, the water evaporates. The melted fat is then strained into jars for storage, and there you have it.
|Cubed goat fat in my biggest Dutch oven & on the wood cookstove|
My problem was that my biggest Dutch oven is a campfire model, i.e. with legs. I used to have a huge flat bottom one, but we got rid of it during our apartment dwelling days. You know, I hadn't used it in over a year so out it went. What a mistake.
Because of the legs I had to keep the fire burning quite hot to keep it simmering and melting. That was okay because it was cold out and I also used the heat to bake biscuits to go with scrambled eggs for lunch. This first batch took me all day.
The next day I decided to do another batch. This time, I opted to use my 16" cast iron campfire skillet. I probably couldn't have used it with an electric or gas range, but with a wood cookstove, the entire stovetop is a heating surface, rather than only the burners. I did place an iron trivet under the pan, just to make sure I didn't burn it.
|2nd batch was in my large cast iron skillet.|
This pan worked much better and only took half a day.
My yield for two days was 3 and a half quarts, and I still have one more batch to go.
|Quart jar of rendered goat fat.|
In addition, I have two pansful of cracklings.
Cracklings are all the bits that browned instead of melting. You can see my recipe for Cracklin' Cornbread here.
[UPDATE: Feb. 12, 2012 - yesterday I finished rendering all the goat fat. From 10.66 pounds of goat fat from the butcher, the yield was a gallon plus of rendered fat, and about 3 quarts of cracklings.]
For more information:
Rendering Lard: A First Timers Guide - Lehman's Country Life
Rendering Lard - Pioneer Living Survival
Crock Pot Method - A Little Bit of Spain in Iowa
Oven Method - The New Homemaker
How To Render & Store Traditional Animal Fats - Nourished Magazine
Uses For Cracklings and Lard - The Simple Green Frugal Co-op
Rendering Goat Fat © January 2013