Friday, February 4, 2011

Rendering Fat

With all this cold weather hanging around, we're taking the opportunity to butcher the "excess" meat on our farm.   We have a motto: "Either milk 'em or eat 'em!"  This year, that means we have the benefit of putting in the freezer 4 sheep and 6 goats.  I'll post pictures of the entire process from beginning to end at a later date.  But for right now, I thought I'd share how we render all the beautiful fat that comes from these animals. 

First, as we are cutting up the meat, we cut off any scraps of fat from the inside and outside of the animal.  It's been rather cold this year, making for a good "fat" harvest:
This is the fat is from a 75lb. goat.

After rinsing the fat, we place it in a big cast iron roaster or into a crockpot.  Today, I'm using our roaster.

Next, we put the tight fitting lid securely on the roaster and cook in the oven at 300 degrees.

After about an hour, I check the fat and give it a little stir to see how it's going and check it out.

 Again in a few hours, I stir and check...
 And then again a few hours later.
 After about 10 hours, the fat seems to be melted down and ready to use.  If your using a crockpot, it will take a bit longer.  Sometimes, I get a couple of crockpots and the roaster all going at once.  It takes all day, the house stays warm, and there's a homey smell that reminds me of Granny's old farmhouse.

 I simply strain the fat using a METAL collander.  If I want the fat a bit more pure (for soapmaking), I'll line the collander with cheesecloth.  This fat will be used in candle making, so I'm not as picky about it.
 Pour it carefully into a big, glass or metal dish to cool.  
It takes awhile to become a solid, so I put it in the fridge to speed things up (or outside on a cold day)
Cut it into squares....
and it's ready to be used at a later date.

Rendering fat is really simple.  It takes time to let it all melt, but it's so worth it.  The soap it makes is such a wonderful treat.  The candles are fun and easy too.  I'll be sure to post when I make both soon!


  1. Now that's just one of the reasons I think you are amazing!

  2. I love this stuff...if it only had come a few weeks earlier before we butchered the sheep;) Great Job!