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How to Render Fat

This guide will show you how to render animal fat.

How to Render Fat

Introduction

Instead of throwing away the fat you trim off cuts of meat when cooking you can turn the scraps into a useful ingredient. This guide will show the simple steps to "wet render" animal fat on your stove top using common kitchen supplies.

Why?

Rendered animal fat is a useful ingredient to keep in your kitchen. It has a high smoke point when prepared this way and is excellent for frying, it’s free of transfats and contains no industrial additives. It’s also pretty much impossible to buy, so if you need it for another recipe (such as confit) you have to make it.

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Steps

Step #1:

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How to Render Fat
  • About one pound of fat & skin. From a duck in this case but this technique works with beef fat, hog fat, goose fat, etc...
  • This is the amount of fat I saved from an approximately 5lb duck. The amount of fat you can collect from an animal varies from breed to breed and animal to animal based on the farm they are raised on and the time of year they were slaughtered.

Step #2:

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How to Render Fat

Add the fat and 1/4 cup of water per pound of fat to a heavy-bottomed sauce pan.

Step #3:

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How to Render Fat

To get a gentle heat I place my sauce pan on top of a cast iron pan over a low flame on my stove. This helps to diffuse the heat and prevents the fat or skin from burning.

Step #4:

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  • As the pot heats up fat begins to melt.
  • Most of the fat has melted off the skin after about two hours.
  • Remove the large bits of skin left in the pot once all the fat has melted off and discard (or put them aside and fry them up if you like cracklings).
  • Continue heating until most or all of the water has evaporated from the mix; about four hours, but YMMV.

Step #5:

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  • Remove the fat from the heat and let it cool down for a few minutes.
  • Use a gravy separator to remove any water or other liquids from the fat. When you've finished you should have about two cups of rendered fat suitable for all manner of cooking applications.
  • If sealed tightly in a Mason-type jar, the rendered fat will keep for several months in the refrigerator.
  • Fat will readily absorb odors from the fridge, so if storing long-term lay a film of plastic wrap directly over the surface before sealing and putting away.

Conclusion

Fat that's been wet-rendered by this method has a mild flavor and a high smoke point. It's also free from transfats and industrial additives and is a sustainable product since you're making use of something you'd otherwise throw away.

Fats from different animals will have different properties and are useful for different cooking tasks. Duck (or goose) fat is particularly well suited for cooking confit and for frying. Because of its richer flavor it's not well suited for baking.

Pork fat (lard) and beef fat (tallow) have a more neutral flavor than duck and can be used for baking applications as well as frying, and can be substituted to great advantage in any recipe that calls for shortening.


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