For all three methods, you will start by procuring some pastured lard from your local farmer, co-op, or if you are super lucky, your grocery store. If it isn't frozen, put it in the freezer. You will have to chop it up, and it is easier to chop if it is somewhat frozen. If it is already frozen, let it sit out on the counter for about a half an hour so that it softens, but isn't all the way thawed out. I usually work with 1-2 pounds at a time, but I have done very large amounts (5 pounds) at once.
Next either chop the lard with a large knife, with your food processor, or if you have a meat grinder, grind it! The smaller your pieces, the faster it will render.
IN THE INSTANT POT
Add ¼ -1/2 cup water to your Instant Pot insert. Next, add your lard pieces.
Set the pot for about 1 hour if you have small pieces, and up to 2 hours if you have fairly large pieces.
You can either do a manual release or let it release naturally, your choice!
IN THE CROCKPOT
Add ½ cup water to your crockpot. Next, add your lard pieces.
Set the crockpot to high. Stir every half hour or so. After one hour, reduce heat to low. Cooking times vary widely with slow cookers, so keep an eye on your lard. If all of the water evaporates, add more to be sure it doesn't burn. It will take several hours with this method, but they are mostly passive hours.
IN THE OVEN
add ½ cup of water to an oven-proof glass baking pan. Next, add your lard pieces. Se the oven to 300 degrees. Stir often and keep an eye on your lard. If the water evaporates, add more.
1. Once your lard is finished, whether you used your Instant Pot, slow cooker, or your oven, strain it through a stainless steel mesh strainer or cheesecloth to get out the “cracklings”. These are great salted! If that's not your thing, you can feed them to the dog. :)
2. I like to pour the strained lard into the bottom of my glass baking pan and put it into the freezer to set up. Then I cut in into easy to use cubes of about a tablespoon each. I also like to pour some into a Mason jar for easy scooping. I store mine in the fridge, although it is stable at room temperature for quite a while!
Use your lard anywhere you would use other cooking fats. Saute and roast vegetables, sear meat, fry chips or french fries, etc. Enjoy!