A culinary term for melting and clarifying hard animal fat for cooking purposes. Rendering can be done by two methods: dry heat or wet heat. In both methods, the fat is slowly cooked until it melts and is then strained of impurities from the cooking process. (For example, cracklings are the remnants of rendering pork fat.) If properly stored, the rendered fat can keep without going rancid for 6 to 8 weeks in the refrigerator and for almost a year if frozen.
Medical research reports that rendered animal fat has health benefits. Despite a history of misinformation, pork fat or lard is high in monounsaturated fats (like olive oil and canola oil), with only 40% of saturated fat, compared to 70% in butter.
Rendered duck fat is also much lower than butter in saturated fats, and it cooks much "cleaner", i.e., it doesn't burn as quickly as olive oil or canola oil.