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The usual method to clarify lard or tallow is to strain out the larger particles and then boil in water.

The fat rises to the top and when cold can be removed and is fairly pure.

But sometimes the fat is contaminated by particles that do not sink to the bottom of the pan when boiled in water and the resulting 'clarified' fat is a little discoloured and contains impurities.

Is there perhaps some additive can be used to clear these way or perhaps some different method of processing in order to get pure, pristine, white fat?

I've been asked to edit the question. Describe the whole process. Sorry I'm a bit late.

Well I cook with lard and it gets contaminated with food particles. Fish. Potatoes. Could be anything. And I fry pork and collect the rendered lard from that. And roasted pork too.

I put everything together in a pan with cold water and heat it up until boiling at a simmer and then let it simmer for a little while and then switch off, let it cool.

(If there are large lumps of contamination I'll strain them off now).

The fat rises to the top, the contaminants fall down. Often the bottom of the fat has a layer of finer contaminants but I can scrape that layer off - the body of the fat is good.

What prompts this query is that I've now come across a situation where the contaminants are apparently so fine they don't separate out and fall down - the fat remains discoloured by their presence.

I am seeking a way to clear it completely.

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    Are you starting with raw solids? I don't understand the "boil in water" part. It's not how I make lard or tallow. Can you edit your post to describe your entire process?
    – moscafj
    Aug 7, 2019 at 10:51

2 Answers 2

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When I have rendered lard, I have generally just heated the solids with just a little water at the bottom of the pan over low heat. I never let it get to a boil, and this does take a long time. When the fat is all liquid, I pour it through a strainer lined with cheesecloth into a second vessel, then pour the strained liquid into jars. I have not had issues with impurities - my rendered lard is very clear and white. I have found straining to be very effective.

You don't mention the amount of heat or exact process you are using, so I can't speculate as to what your exact situation is, but it's possible you are trying to do this over too high heat.

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    Yes! In fact, the lower the heat the better. Boiling and high heat will contribute to off flavors. The small amount of water is just to get things started. Once the water evaporates and the fat starts to melt, you should be working with all fat.
    – moscafj
    Sep 12, 2019 at 12:45
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    This answer seems to be describing the process of rendering fat, not clarifying used fat.
    – Sneftel
    Jan 13, 2022 at 10:16
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My Mum taught me the boiling-water clarification method too, and like others report, my resultant fat is clean and clear as well; and it seems to me that you're doing it exactly right (but it should be noted that good tallow, from pasture raised animals, is not white, it's yellow-ish, from slightly to very, depending on the pasture; you'll only get white beef or sheep tallow from grain-fed beasts; and once your lards & tallows are mixed after repeated use, the end result will never be pure-lard white again -- but that doesn't necessarily mean it's dirty).

All I can think is that, when you strain it, you're not using a strainer with a fine enough mesh (a fat-strainer should be very fine) as the method you obviously already know, will 'bring back' even burnt, charcoal-laden fat to good.

The only other fat-cleaning method I know of cannot be done at home, because it requires the use of industrial solvents (of the kind used in the seed-oil industry, and I don't imagine you want that crap anywhere near your good fat!).

My only other idea is that whatever the contamination you describe is, it's not from a food, but something else altogether (anything that was once edible should be able to be filtered-out), and if that's the case, I suggest you discard it and start again ~ because the only things that I can think of that would remain suspended rather than sink, would be microplastic contamination, wood contamination from a bushfire, bulldust from a dust-storm, or particulate-matter from pollution. Even the fine black carbon from cremating the odd chop or toast can be successfully filtered from fat with this method, so if you can't get it clean this way, with the right strainers, I'd assume it's something else and chuck it.

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