Rendering Fat

Collecting fat juices from cooking and storing them in ramekins in the fridge is age old. Older still, prior to refrigeration, simply pouring into a bowl and using with the next meal.

Draining off fats that are released from frying meat or pouring off roasting fats into a bowl gives a slightly burned, dirty fat, full of all sorts from the cooking process - this is "dripping".

Dripping provides the unique flavour behind proper Fish & Chips, and you will still find fryers in the north of England, particularly Yorkshire who steadfastly refuse to move over to oils and trans-fats. Another use, particularly for surplus or a simple thrifty filler for poor families, is what is known as a "mucky fat sandwich" in Yorkshire - simply spread dripping onto bread. Done!

You can tell, we do like our dripping ...

But what about when you've got a glut of fat?

I cooked some belly pork and only wanted the meat, which left a half cup or so of fat once the skin was scraped. The skin made some Pork Scratchings, while the meat went into a kind of Puerco Pibil.

The fat, I rendered ...

If you don't have any fat surplus to requirement by consequence of what you are cooking, just ask your butcher for some fat - it will almost certainly be free.

I know ... I know ... the horror! Non-stick pans and a silicone spatula! I can't use cast iron on my ceramic hob, but we are in the process of moving and there, I will be able to.

Anyway, "needs must", so today I use these pans.

Simply dice and drop into a frying pan on a medium heat.

Clear liquid fat will render out, so periodically pour that off through a sieve into a ramekin.

Repeat a number of times, even pressing down the fat to fully release any final juices.

You will be left with a clear, slightly off white liquid which will cool to a solid, but soft texture.


  1. I tried rendering fat from pork fat. I used trimmings i had gotten from a butcher. I placed them in a large deep pot and cooked it low and slow. I got about a quarts worth. However, I didn't care for the way it stuck to my cook ware. Especially my cast iron. I had to use soap (gasp) to get the residue off. It also had a strange taste.
    Have you tried using your fat on cast iron? How do you feel about the taste in general? Any pointers for where I may have gone wrong?

  2. Hmmm ... it certainly sounds like you did it right. I can't use cast iron on my hob, being a glass top, so cannot confirm. I am puzzled about how it caused issues with your cast iron pans, since it is pretty much lard ... which I'd certainly use to season such cookware. I guess I'll know more when I have a go on cast iron ... in about 3 months when I move to a new home.

    The smell and taste is unique - I like it.

    Give it a go with beef fat and see if you prefer that. I wonder if the smell and taste is too close to human; memories of burned flesh in chemistry class?

  3. Put a little water in the bottom of the pan you're rendering in. The water will warm and the fat will melt; the water will evaporate and won't end up in your jar of rendered fat. If you're still rendering after that, add a little water again. This seems to make the process more gentle, I find.

  4. I use cast iron on my glass hob. Seems to work fine. Admittedly I rarely move the frying pan and it is now sitting in a layer of grease too, so maybe that is protecting the surface. I wipe the grease up around it now and then, but it always has enough to protect it when hot, letting it slide, and to lock in in place when cold.