Finding pastured pork/bacon can be challenging – even here in (agricultural) Minnesota.
Once finding a source, the supply is NOT guaranteed either!
At a recent Farmers’ Market, I located a farm that produces pastured beef, pork, poultry and eggs (which happens to be near where I grew up in Central MN) and was so excited! The initial sampling of beef and eggs were outstanding, so you can imagine my disappointment when told they were out of bacon for the season. *sob* Oh, The Horror!
Pastured piggy fat is one of the few food sources with any appreciable amount of vitamin D, which we really need here in the Northland winters. So, after a moment to calm myself, I perused the menu and saw pork organ/back fat on the list. Did they still have some in stock? Yes, one package in the trailer. Score! Only I had to render it myself. Sure, I could buy a jar on Thrive Market, but it wouldn’t be local or as fresh.
How hard could it be? I took to the Paleosphere and read a few blog posts and decided to do it crockpot-style in my Instant Pot. [This appliance has been an incredible help in the kitchen as a pressure cooker, and I’ve used it for beef, poultry, root veggies and curcurbits with great success. As an aside, if you have little ones with hands that reach the stovetop like I do, it’s a huge help safety-wise as it can be kept on the counter out of reach and is insulated should it be touched.]
I cut up the slabs of back fat into cubes and set the Instant Pot to Slow Cook (vented, of course!)
It took much longer than expected on the slow cooker setting, so I opened the pot and continued on the Meat/Stew setting, stirring occasionally. Once most of the fat was melted, I strained it, removed the pot from the base and finished rendering on the stovetop for better heat control. Apparently it is better to take the time to cut up the fat into really small pieces.
All told, I got 3x the amount of lard at 30% less cost than buying it finished.
And got a jar of tasty cracklings to boot!