Rendering Lard

The finished product
The finished product

The butcher left us with four pieces of fat this morning.  Two pieces of leaf fat (from around the kidneys, and two of back fat.  I can’t seem to tell them apart so I’ve decided to render them separately as I’ve read that the leaf fat will render cleaner and be amazing for pastry.  The other fat I can use for cooking or soap-making.

raw lard
I cut up the first piece of fat into about 3/4 inch pieces and placed it into a crock pot with about 1/2 cup of water.  The water helps to prevent scorching.

1 hour update:  No worries about scorching, it’s barely warm.  I turned up the slow cooker to high for 35 minutes and finally have some heat.

3 hour update:  transferred it to a cast iron stock pot to get warmer.

freshly lard5 hour update:  finally enough to pour off some liquid – about 1/2 L.

Next Morning  update:  the lard is hardened and lovely white with no porky smell.  See the photo above.

Tips:  This took A Lot longer than I had expected.  A hot, humid August day is not the best time to render lard – I might freeze the last batch and render it on a cold January morning.

For Great Ideas from other hard-working folks see Life on a Homestead’s Barn Hop.


Zone Cleaning – Week 1 (DTEF)

I decided to jump on board (albeit a little late) a task challenge from the Down to Earth Community Forum site.  Week One involves Porches/Entrances/Hallways

The Front Porch:
~ Declutter
~ Remove Cobwebs
~ Clean door windows
~ Wipe down doors and door bell
~ Sweep as needed

The Entry:
~ Declutter
~ Remove Cobwebs
~ Dust
~ Wash door window
~ Clean baseboards, light switches
~ Polish furniture
~ Sweep and mop the floors

The Hallway and Stairs:
~ Deciliter
~ Remove Cobweb
~ Dust
~ Wash windows and sills
~ Shake curtains if needed
~ Clean baseboards, light switches
~ Polish furniture
~ Vacuum floors as required

A Good-bye and A Thank-you

Today was the day that the butcher came to process Ham and Bacon for us.  I decided to take our son off thrift shopping and leave the day to my dearest husband.  He was especially close to the pigs and I felt better knowing he would be with them.  I knew it had to be done, they lived a fantastic life, were well cared for and happy, but now as I take a quick break from my lard rendering I’m feeling sad and will miss them.  I hope we did well by them and that we continue to do well by the gifts they have given us.  Good-bye pigs and Thank-you.

Granola Bars – Take 1

granola bars finishedIngredients

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup  unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 1/2 cup fruit and nut trail mix
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 pound butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper.
  2. In one bowl bowl, combine the oats, coconut, pecans, raisins, and trail mix.
  3. In another bowl, combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt.
  4. In a third bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar, and honey until light and fluffy. Add the egg and the vanilla and beat until well incorporated.
  5. Gradually add the flour mixture into the butter mixture just until combined. Stir in the oat mix
  6. Press the mix firmly and evenly into the prepared pan. Bake about 35 minutes until the top is golden. The bars will be very soft straight at first, but will firm as they cool.
  7. Cool completely on a wire rack and cut into bars.cooked bars

Optional:  sprinkle a little coconut mana onto the top of the bars before baking.

Homemade Face Cream

Ingredientsfinished lotion

  • ¼ cup almond oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons beeswax
  • ½ teaspoon vitamin E oil (about 7 capsules)
  • 1 tablespoon shea butter


  1. Place all ingredients in a glass jar (canning) in a pan with water.  The water level should be about 3/4 of the way up the side of the jar.
  2. Bring the water bath to a simmer until the ingredients have melted, stirring the contents occasionally.melting lotion
  3. Once the mixture has melted remove the jar from the water bath.  Every 5-10 minutes or so until the cream hardens stir the content vigorously with a fork, scrapping the cooled bits from the bottom and sides.oils cooling
  4. Once the cream reaches room temperature, add about 4 T of Rose Water and beat it with a stick blender.  This gives it a more lotion-like consistency.  Close the jar’s lid, and store in a cool place.

Canning up a storm

Canned Tuna
The morning started with 4 half-pints of tuna lion (I found it in the freezer).  I followed the OSU Extension Office’s Instructions for this project.  I packed the tuna into the jars, added 1/2 teas salt and olive oil to cover.  I poked around with a knife to clear the air bubbles and added more oil to cover the fish.  Then I popped on the lid and ring and placed the jars into the pressure canner.  I’ve got a weighted canner and our elevation is only 460′ so I’m processing them at 10 lb for 100 minutes.

Smoked Fish
Next, I turned my attention to the Mystery White Fish from the freezer.  I decided to try to cure and smoke it like I would salmon so I mixed together:

  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 T lemon zest
  • 1 t red pepper flakes
  • 8-10 Juniper berries

I’ll let this cure for a couple of days in the refrigerator with a weight on it, turning it twice a day.  Then I’ll rinse it and ask Joe to smoke it with some fresh apple twinges.

Blackberry Jelly
I combined the 6 cups juice I made yesterday with 6 cups of sugar and a couple of teaspoons of cider vinegar.  I boiled it forever (it seemed like it) until it finally gelled and then processed it into 8 half-pint jars.

Goat Milk Soap
This afternoon I decided to make a batch of soap – only my second so don’t follow my instructions – I just want to remember what I did.  I had found a recipe for cold processed soap online using shortening, olive oil and coconut oil along with the goat milk and lye but wanted to add a little almond oil.  I was directed to the Brambleberry Lye Calculator where I was able to input the amounts of oils I wanted to use as well as the Superfatting level (extra oils to make skin softer? – I chose 5%) and was able to determine the amount of lye and liquid I would need.


Oil(s) Selected Amount %
Almond Oil (Sweet) 1.00oz 4.35%
Coconut Oil (Fractioned) 6.00oz 26.09%
Lard 10.00oz 43.48%
Olive Oil 6.00oz 26.09%
5% Lye (Sodium Hydroxide) Amount 3.526oz
Ounces of liquid recommended 7.59oz
Yields 34.12oz
Current Batch (total oil weight): 23.00oz
Resize Batch

Oil Weight  gramsounces

I added the lye into the frozen goat milk really slowly – I think it took at least 30 minutes.  I wanted to avoid burning it, which I did.  It turned out a lovely creamy yellow color rather than the dark orange I had last time.  I best part was that I could check on the boiling jelly while monitoring the lye.  I should add here that I have grown-up children that know their way around chemicals as I was a science teacher for years so I trusted them to stay away from the lye on the back porch.

The stick blender helped a lot when adding the oils to the lye.  It took about 15 minutes to reach trace.  Then I just added a little peppermint scent and red color – not sure I’m loving the red.  I tried to make a swirl but it’s more of a mush. Oh well, it’s resting quietly, wrapped in towels, all nice and warm.

The evening wrapped up with a little knitting and my accidental assurance that there are so live mosquitos in our house.  I put a log on the fire which just won’t stop smoldering.  Joe finally took it outside, but the house still stinks.

Summer’s almost over for Me :{

Two weeks left before it’s back to school for me so I thought I’d better get busy.  The camera’s on vacation to the beach without me, but I wanted to write something so I could remember when I started a couple of liquors. I added these to the Mint Tincture I started a week or so ago.  I was cleaning the garage to get ready for our sale when I “went freezer shopping” for groceries.  I found some bags of mixed berries I made last summer to add to the blackberries from this summer.

jelliesI started a batch of Blackberry Jelly, adding a tiny bit of water to the wild blackberries that I picked yesterday and putting them on the stove until the berries broke down. Then I strained it through the jelly bag and ended up without about 4 cups of juice.



I put half of the strained pulp/seeds intosome spiced rum to make a Blackberry Spiced Rum.  The other half went into some white rum to make Blackberry Rum for my in-laws.

I also found a few bags of mixed berries while cleaning out the freezer to get ready for the pork – 2 more weeks – so I also started a batch of Mixed Berry Jelly (strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries) using the same method I used for the blackberries.  I got another 4 cups of juice.

The pulp once again went into jars with white rum to make Mixed Berry Rum.  I meant to use vodka but grabbed the wrong bottle by mistake.

I think this will be it for jam making this year.  I put up about 18 half-pints of Spiced Fig Preserves with Orange last week and made 1 jar of Salal Jelly with Blueberries on Monday.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to make at least one batch of Goat’s Milk Soap.  Maybe I’ll try to get a few photos with my phone.