How to render fat: Making stuff to make stuff

One of the ways I love to exercise my creative side is to make soap. There is something gratifying to me about smelling my own homemade lavender soap. I alway try to use farm made products for my projects. I like to make stuff to make other stuff, and this is no different. The main ingredient of soap is fat. Either vegetable or animal, it is then mixed with sodium hydroxide, aka lye, which changes the chemical component of the fat and makes it into soap. (Lard is also used in making pie crusts and biscuits, frying potatoes, and lots of other delicious ways)So what if I could make my fats? That would  be super awesome! Then I would have a free, organic source for lard and tallow (pig and beef fat). Here on the farm we butcher and process our own meats. We are still learning all the cuts of the pork and beef, so we had a butcher come to the farm to begin to teach us last year.(Thank you Zink family) While these beautiful cuts of meat are making there way to the freezer, a few lowly five gallon buckets were filling up with scrap fat. No, its wasn’t very appetizing, but the gross and very heavy bucket turned into my beautiful soap. The next step in the fats extreme makeover, was to run it through the meat grinder. It starts as big slabs, sometimes weighing a few pounds, it gets cubed enough to fit in the grinder, and pushed through to make “spaghetti” noodles.(if you want to do this at home cutting it into strips in fine too) Then I have a buckets of spaghetti, than need to be rendered down into the lard or tallow. How do I do that you ask? Don’t worry, Ill tell my secrets. To be rendered down, it has to be cooked slowly, separating the fat from any bits of meat remaining with it. It also turns the fat from a solid, into a clear liquid than can be poured into jars for longterm storage, where it hardens up, until it is melted again before I make soap. So rather than spending the day in front of the fire fit, like our foremothers did, I  enlist the help of humble crockpot. I can fill up the crockpot and comeback about 5 hours later when most of the work is already done. It then gets ladled through a strainer(I used an old thrift store sheer curtain. Cheesecloth would also work, but once the fat hardens it is very hard to clean up) into mason jars. I got about 20 jars this year. Enough to hopefully last me until next butcher date. Warning:this soap making thing is highly addictive. Soap at your own risk, you may not be able to stop yourself and before you know it, you have hundreds of bars, then you have to try to sell them or your house might be taken over by soap, your husband and children may want to throw away your soaping supplies, just to see the counters again,  it could be bad. Not that this has happened to me or anything, I’m just saying…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *