January 28, 2013

Rendering Goat Fat

If pig fat is called lard and cow fat called tallow, then what is goat fat called? Well, I don't know either, but when we had our goats processed, I received a huge, 10+ pound bag of fat. Considering how much my concept of eating fats has changed since reading Nourishing Traditions and Ray Peat, I was delighted. The bag has been sitting in my freezer until a couple of days ago. Last Friday we had freezing rain all day, so a project that kept me near the wood cookstove was highly in order.

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 


Sandy Livesay said...


Will you be making soap with the rendered goat fat?

Judy said...

It is my understanding that depending on where the fat came from on the animal as to it specific name and use. For example, the fat around the kidneys on beef and lamb or mutton makes excellent tallow candles. I wonder if chevron fat works the same way?

Carolyn said...

Great post. Our male dairy kids that end up in freezer camp never have enough fat on them to make much of anything in the way of goat-lard, but I'm hoping when our Boer herd gets bigger, we'll have plenty of goat-lard-fat-whatever to render. I'm slowly replacing my vegetable oils with lard in the larder (pun intended, really!!) and it will be nice to add some goat fat to it. You'll, of course, let us know how the cooking with it goes, right? I LOVE the crispy goat fat on the ribs!

Anonymous said...

I am so grateful to you for sharing what you are doing/learning. It helps me a great deal. Can't wait to see what you use the rendering for.

Theresa said...

Well, the one year rule does sometimes come to bite you. Looks like you came up with a great alternate solution though!

Farmer Barb said...

In kosher cooking , rendered chicken fat called schmaltz, is the fat of choice to make a meat meal. Mixing dairy and meat is a no-no so all the dishes used in a meat meal would be fried/sauteéd/browned with schmaltz. I tried this and the depth of flavor using it instead of butter was indescribable. The schmaltz I made was from my own batch of roosters that I had to dispatch.

Try making a hearty bean and veggie dish where you would have to sauté the veggies. Sprinkle the cracklins on top and it will taste like a meat meal. You could make cream gravy for the biscuits. MMMMM!!!!

Leigh said...

Sandy, I hadn't thought about soap with this batch. The several quarts I'll end up with are more useful for cooking at this point. I do plan to get back to soap making again one of these days. Probably after we have pigs. :)

Judy, I know that's true with pig fat and likely with other animals as well. Pig lard rendered from fat under the rib cage and around the kidneys, the leaf lard, is said to yield the purest, lightest flavored. I see it recommended for pastries and pie crusts. I'm assuming this is because there is no muscle ribboned through it. My guess is that the meat cooking as the fat melts would impart a slightly stronger flavor. All my fat was stuffed in one bag, a disadvantage of having processing done by a butcher.

Speaking of candle making, one of the links I gave in the post said that crisco was originally developed for candle making. When the candle market declined, they decided to market it as "food" instead!

Carolyn, thanks! Actually, that's probably where the term "larder" came from in the first place!

Stephanie, thank you! Your turn is coming!

Theresa, LOL. But only with the things I give away. :) Anyway now I have an excuse to get another one.

Barb, I was just telling Dan I'd like to make my next batch of dried beans with cracklins! And now I know what to call my saved chicken fat. :) Putting Foods By recommends saving it from stock making and using it for biscuits.

Gill - That British Woman said...

catching up with your last couple of posts. I use lard when making bird treats: http://thatbritishwoman.blogspot.ca/2012/12/what-do-you-think-these-are.html


Jackie said...

Fascinating, I've never heard of rendering goat fat, but why wouldn't you? My family has been rendering beef fat and using a 50/50 mix with lard for pastry in their commercially produced meat pies back in the U.K. for almost 100 years. It made our clothes smell yucky! The difference in taste is extraordinary, very crisp, rich pastry. I have a bag of deer fat in the freezer waiting to be processed in to soap, this might just motivate me to get moving on it.

Quinn said...

Good info! I rendered the fat from the pigs I raised many years ago, but never thought about goats. Probably because "fat" is the last thing that comes to mind when I look at my bony cashmeres ;)

Leigh said...

Gill, thank you for the idea and link! I read somewhere else that someone uses the cracklings as kitty and doggie treats.

Jackie, your meat pies sound heavenly. It's true that the rendering odors are a bit strong. One source recommended opening the windows as part of the how-to. Everyone says the taste in pastries, though, is beyond compare.

Quinn, I never would have dreamed our goats had either meat or fat on them. We processed a Nubian doe who broke her leg (which sadly couldn't be set and healed wrong), and an obnoxious yearling Nubian wether. Neither seemed particularly hefty, but we got some 90 pounds(? if I remember correctly) of meat and over 10 pounds of fat. I also asked to keep the bones, which I'm using to make broth.

DebbieB said...

Leigh, I bought a used copy of Nourishing Traditions at your recommendation, and I confess I haven't read it yet! It sounds like I need to dig into it, though.

As an aside, I am intrigued by the little note in your comment composition section, referring to a writing project. Is this something we'll hear more about?

Leigh said...

Debbie, when I first read the book, I simply didn't take her word for it, even though she documents well. I did more research. That's how I found Ray Peat for one. Other researchers verify as well.

The writing project is something you'll definitely hear more about. So many readers have encouraged me to write a book, that I've set about doing just that. It's been a couple years in the making, but I've got the chapter basics done and am on to formatting and adding photos. It will be self-published. I've been reluctant to mention it because it's taking such a long time. But, I can only squeeze writing time in between this blog and regular homestead projects and activities. Prayers for this are appreciated!

DebbieB said...

Leigh, that's exciting! I definitely want a copy of your book. What a great project! As always, your projects and homestead are in my prayers - now I will specifically pray in agreement with your book project.

Leigh said...

Thank you Debbie!

happy momma said...

It's so neat to read of all the things you can do with what most folks throw away. As I was reading I wondered if you would make soap or candles or such. You really do need to try cracklin cornbread, it's yummy! Although I've never made it from goat cracklins. You have so many great projects going on that I'm envious:) Can't wait to hear more about your book. I'd say it will be wonderful. God Bless

Alison (yarnscape) said...

Leigh - thanks for the 'nudge' this post gives me. I'm not in the position of having my own livestock yet, but I have been thinking about rendering my own fats for a while - for cooking, or for soap. I hereby pledge to cut off and keep (freeze) as much 'waste' fat as possible until I have time to give rendering a proper 'go'.

Also: very exciting news about the book! All the best with that; I will be thinking all good thoughts for you there. :)

luckybunny said...

Thanks so much for this post - really, really helpful!!

Ed said...

Never had goat fat but have many fond memories of lard and pie crust!

CaliforniaGrammy said...

Another great post, Leigh. Rendering fat is just something I've never even thought of doing. But after seeing that beautiful quart of gorgeous pure white fat and reading all the comments about how it makes beautiful flaky pie crust . . . hmmmmmm, get's me thinking I wish I lived right next door to you! If I did, I'd happily give you a couple of my cast iron dutch ovens. Oh, and I'll be glad to see your book when it's done. I know what a tedious job that is, though so I won't be holding my breath. :D

Leigh said...

Happy Momma, oh for a totally no waste life! That's our goal anyway. :) I've made soap and candles in the past, but think for now, I'll used the fat for cooking. I have a recipe for goats milk soap made with frozen goat milk, so maybe with goat fat too I could make a really nice soap someday.

Alison, so good to hear from you! Whenever I think about starting a new batch of sourdough, I think of you. :) It is a shame to waste anything that can be used for something else, isn't it?

Donna, thank you. I always hope my posts are useful to others, so your feedback is encouraging. :)

Ed, I've never had a pie made with lard, but I remember how delicious my grandmother's lard fried doughnuts were. Pie crust though, is first on my to-do list, along with the cracklin cornbread.

Janice, thanks! And I'd happily trade you lard for them. :) I appreciate your encouragement on the book. You're right, it is tedious but I am so motivated and love the process!

Renee Nefe said...

I'm wondering if your footed dutch oven might work better in the oven?

Your project sounds like a great way to stay warm!

I'm waiting for a cold snap to make up another batch of broth here...with me being sick I've used up all my chicken/turkey broth (yeah, I mixed the bones!)

But from now on, I won't be shunning boned meats for the more pricey boneless.

Michelle said...

How wonderful. I never would have dreamed that a dairy goat could give so much fat! What was the smell like when you rendered it? I have yet to try rendering. I was saving fat in a jar in the fridge at one time, but it molded way before I had enough to render, and I haven't tried again.

I can't wait to hear about your cracklin' cornbread!

Sherri B. said...

I had no idea how the rendering process went...very interesting. I'm must admit that I would have probably eaten those cracklings by now for sure! xo

Elaine said...

Cracklings are awesome in cornbread ;)

Sue said...

The one year I cooked a goose for Christmas dinner, I worked really hard to collect all the fat from the pan. Imagine how upset I was to discover that my sweetie had tossed the schmaltz without asking!

How do you intend to store your lovely lard?

Leigh said...

Renee, I hadn't thought about the Dutch oven in the oven. It's kinda big though, so it would have to be my electric oven. Sorry to hear you've been sick! Another good reason to keep those lovely broths at hand.

Michelle, we didn't think we'd get much of anything off them. It smelled like cooking goat all day, not unpleasant, though I read at one of those links that some folks really don't like the smell of the rendering process. Do you have enough room in your freezer to save your fats?

Sherri, folks seem to love the cracklings, hot and seasoned especially. :)

Elaine, I can't wait to try it!

Sue, oh no! I've had that happen when I was trying to save all the lovely juices from cooked birds. I come into the kitchen to put them in a jar and, they're gone! Oh well.

I've got all the rendered fat in quart jars in the fridge. I read it can also be frozen, but I'm not sure I have enough to worry about needing to do that.

DFW said...

Great information Leigh! Thanks for posting.

Anonymous said...

Sheep fat is also tallow so I guess goat fat is tallow as well. Tallow is a fat with a much higher melting point than lard. It is more saturated.

Renee Nefe said...

We had a cold snap! So out came the pots and left-over bones and veggies!

The broth is out on the back porch cooling now...the garage is too warm with the cars in there. Once it is cool enough to not cook my frig, I'll bring it back in. Days like this I wish the back porch was screened...I know there are two kitties who think my yard is their yard.

Leigh said...

DFW, I hope it's useful. :)

Anonymous, thank you for that tidbit. I searched the internet to find out what rendered goat fat was called but never could come up with an answer. I didn't know that about sheep fat, so it makes sense that goats would be labeled the same.

Renee, I hope that means you're feeling better! I have to say that a screened porch is wonderful. A great place to spend time when the weather is nice. Plus, they are catproof. :)

Effieq said...

A very interesting post. Thank you :)

Leigh said...

Pat, thank you! And thank you for the comment. I was very happy to find your blog, too.

Effieq said...

Hi Leigh
Thanks so much for popping into my ramblings.:) Really enjoy reading all your past posts.
Take care and keep posting. :)

Sandy said...

In Eastern Europe goat fat is used as a general health remedy. I have learned to add a spoonful to hot tea to ease a cough. And it works!

Leigh said...

I did not know that, interesting!