Rendering Animal Fat

how to render animal fat

When I was growing up, my parents and grandparents didn’t let anything go to waste.  I remember my mother and paternal grandmother in the kitchen rendering fat, using it to make suet blocks for the birds and serving up the “cracklins” with supper.  It makes for great memories, but unfortunately, they’re very vague.  Like most things in childhood, I was only mildly interested in what they were doing and committed absolutely none of it to memory.  So, a couple of years ago, when we we were butchering a particularly fat deer, I had the realization that I wanted to put the fat to use, but couldn’t remember how.  With a little digging, I found an article on how to render fat in one of our homestead/survival type books and this is how we’ve been doing it ever since.  We use the fat for suet blocks and our homemade soaps; I’ll be posting about both of those over the next couple of weeks.  Well, actually I’ll also be doing an instructable on making your own lye out of hardwood ash, so maybe soapmaking will be 3 or 4 posts away, we’ll see.

The fat that I’m rendering in this instructable is deer fat, but you can use fat trimmed from store bought meat also, of course.

Step One:

When you trim your fat, make sure to get only fat, no meat or flesh.  Any meat cooked in your renderings will give the final product an off smell and definitely won’t be anything you want to rub all over your body if you make soap out of it.

Trimmed Fat

Trimmed Fat

Step Two:

Cut your trimmed fat into small cubes (approximately 1/8 inch).

Cubed Fat Ready For The Pot

Cubed Fat Ready For The Pot

Step Three:

Place cubed fat into a pot along with a couple Tablespoons of water to get the fat started without burning.  Don’t worry about having water in your rendered fat as this small amount of water will evaporate off during the cooking process.  Turn your burner to a relatively low setting.  On my stove, I use #2 on the dial.

Starting To Cook

Starting To Cook

Keep stirring as the fat starts to cook, making sure that none sticks to the bottom of the pot and that all the pieces are getting warmed.  Here’s a little of how the progression should look:

Rendering Fat  Rendering Fat i Rendering Fat j

Once you start getting close to having all the fat rendered, you will notice that the bubbling will drop off significantly. Wait until you have no more of the active, large, grouped bubbles like you see in the last picture above. It will still have some, but no where near like above.

Step Three:

Place a strainer with a piece of doubled cheesecloth over a bowl or measuring cup.  If it’s glass, make sure you’ve warmed it a little so that the hot grease doesn’t shatter it.

Separating The Fat From The Cracklins

Separating The Fat From The Cracklins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooled, Rendered Deer Fat and Cracklins

Cooled, Rendered Deer Fat and Cracklins

 

That’s all there is to it!  The process is really simple and unless you leave it cooking too long, should give you a very pretty milky white fat that has endless uses.  Although rendered amounts and times will vary, I’ve listed the specifics below that may be useful to you.  🙂

  • In this example, I started with a little more than 2 cups of cubed deer fat and ended up with just shy of 1 cup of rendered fat.
  • Once in the pot, cooking time was 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  • If you’re not going to use your rendered fat immediately, simply label it and stick it in the fridge until you’re ready.
  • If you have your trimmed fat, but not enough time to complete the cooking process, freeze it.  It will keep nicely for a year or more.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Rendering Animal Fat

  1. Hi! I really hope you enjoy the scrub, it’s one of my favorite blends. The lemon especially makes your skin feel wonderful! After your shower or bath, apply the sugar scrub to your wet skin, massaging in a circular motion to get the exfoliating benefits. It works best to do this while still standing in the shower so that any of the scrub that falls can easily be washed down the drain. You can use your hands, washcloth or bath puff. Also, working with small amounts(like a Tablespoon or so) and focusing on individual body parts one at a time makes it easier to control. Once you’re done, rinse off well and dry as usual. Let me know how you like it! 🙂

  2. Pingback: Make Your Own Wood Ash Lye Soap - Live The Old Way

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