What else would YOU do with 50 pounds of lard? When we slaughtered our 5 hogs last year there was a lot of fat left over. The leaf lard (the purest lard from the kidney areas) I rendered for our cooking. It is sooooo awesome! Love it for cooking eggs and pancakes.
The rest I had to do something with…. ah ha! Soap! Brief soap history. Your great grandma probably made it by running water through wood ash to create a lye. Then she’d add water and lard and cook it all day, let it set and harden and have a semi soft soap.
I started by reading “The Complete Soapmaker” by Norma Coney. You can create two basic types of soap. The first is to do the water, lye, lard thing. This will create a mild soap – commonly called a Homesteader’s Soap. You can then take this soap, grate it, melt it and add “flavors” to it, let it reharden and then you have a more elegant hand milled soap which is harder and lasts longer.
The Homesteader’s Soap sounded, well, kind of gross to me so I decided to buy some first to see what I thought of it. I found some in one of my favorite catalogues, Lehman’s. Surprisingly, it really is a nice soap!
So, here is the process I’ve gone through so far. About a month ago I cut up into small pieces about 10 pounds of lard. This step has a pain in the, ummmm, lard. Then I put it in small batches into the Cusineart. Then in a pot with about 4 inches of water in it and boiled it for about 3 hours – rendering the lard. Poured it into a big container and let it set in the fridge overnight. The next day I turned it out and scraped off the gel (the yuck) and had my pure lard.
Today I measured out my water, lye and lard and mixed them according to Ms. Coney’s very strict instructions. It was a bit nerve-wracking since my scale sucked and I’m sure everything was off. But, by the end of stirring it for an hour it did kind of look like the picture in the book.
I poured it in its container, wrapped it in a towel and it’s resting on my kitchen counter with a note reading “Leave Me Alone”. In 48 hours I can check it to see if it’s solidifying like it should.
I’ll write a note on Tuesday to let you know if this first batch was a success.