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Aunt Lilly's Farm Soap

| 12/5/2019 7:15:00 PM

I think it’s appropriate that my last soap project for this series is a re-make of the soap that started me off on my soap adventures 50 years ago. If you remember from the castile soap project I mentioned that when I was a young woman my mother introduced me to an old woman named Lilly who lived on a farm near Iowa Falls, Iowa. Lilly was straight out of the pages of The Foxfire Books edited by Eliot Wigginton. She was the real deal and she showed me how to make tallow soap on her wood stove.

The only thing I’m going to do differently this time is I am going to use rendered pig fat (lard) instead of rendered beef fat (tallow). I purposely chose lard because I decided that if I had any leftover after rendering it that I could use it for cooking. Yes, I rendered my own lard for this project. Store-bought lard is—in my opinion—odious stuff. The texture is grainy. I simply don’t like it. Who knows how those pigs were raised and with what chemicals they were fed? I was also able to source pig fat from an organic pig who lived a good life and who was humanely dispatched. If you can’t do this please do what you are comfortable with.

By the way, soap made from animal fat is particularly good for skin irritations like poison oak or ivy and has a nice creamy lather.

soap 2
This is my best soap so far. Photo by Renee Benoit

Rendering Pig Fat into Lard

  • 3 lbs of pretty clean pig fat (That means: as much of the meat removed as you can)
  • Slow cooker

Chop the pig fat into 1” chunks or smaller. If you have a meat grinder you can run the fat through the grinder. It will melt all that much faster. Put the chopped or ground fat into a slow cooker on LOW. If you put it on high it could brown the fat which will make it have a strong scent. Let it slow cook for a long time. It might take 6 hours. When it’s all melted and there are little brown bits (cracklins) floating in it, scoop the cracklins out with a slotted spoon and then strain the melted fat through a sieve and then cheesecloth to get rid of all the cracklins and particles. Letting particles stay in the soap can make the soap go rancid. You can fry the cracklins until crisp and eat them if you wish. No carbos there! The melted fat will be a light golden color but when it solidifies it will be white and gorgeously smooth.

This will keep in the fridge, covered, until you’re ready to make Farm Soap.

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