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Rendering is the process of extracting pure fat from animal tissues such as beef, chicken, duck, pork, and more. Animals store fat in fatty tissue, where the fat is mixed with water, protein, and other substances. In this form, the fat is perishable and not accessible, and it needs to be separated out by rendering.
Before rendering, the fatty tissue should be separated from the meat and chopped into small pieces. Freezing the fatty tissue will help with the chopping, and frozen fatty tissue can be carefully chopped in a food processor.
Dry vs wetEdit
Rendering can take place using a dry or wet method. In dry rendering, the prepared fatty tissue is gently and slowly heated all on its own until the fat melts out. Wet rendering is very similar, but a small amount of water is added to the fatty tissue to help prevent burning. The clarified fat is then strained to remove the remaining solids, which can be eaten. When water is included, the finished fat is left to solidify and separate from the water. It should be noted that the wet method may not produce crispy crackling solids.
Any slow and gentle source of heat can be used to render fat. This includes a slow cooker on low, a stove on low heat, or an oven at around 250°F (120°C). The heat should be high enough to boil off water but low enough to avoid burning the solids. No matter the heat source, the rendering tissue should be stirred every so often to distribute everything and prevent burning.
Rendered fat is technically shelf-stable at room temperature, but it can go rancid if exposed to air or light. Storing the fat in a sealed container in a cool, low-light place like a pantry, fridge, or freezer will prolong the shelf-life.
Fatty tissue cut into pieces
Slowly cooking the tissue in a pot
Cracklings floating in rendered fat
Straining the solid cracklings from the rendered fat
Solidified rendered fat