Farmstay U.S. Blog

Created for and by travelers and the farmers, these posts will cover a variety of topics related to farm stays in the U.S.

Lard. (Yep. Lard.)

This is not a post for the vegetarians among us -- sorry!

Have you ever rendered your own lard? Would you do it if I said that fresh lard has healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, as well as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids? AND less saturated fat than butter?

Lard you render yourself is different from the store-bought, shelf-stable stuff. In order to have a long shelf-life, commercial products have hydrogenated oils that are solid at room temperature. These are your trans fats, which raise your "bad" cholesterol (LDL) while at the same time, lowering your "good" cholesterol (HDL).*

Besides... lard... it just can't be beat for a good pie crust, fried chicken, or those New Years Eve tamales, right?

Some of our farms and ranches touch on the topic of lard in cooking, such as in the Folklore Foods class at Tierra Soul Urban Farm in Portland. Others offer free receipes that use lard as an ingredient, like Splendor Farms in Louisiana (click on their website and find the recipe of the month). Still others sell lard, or the fat to render your own, in their farm shops, like Tyner Pond Farm in Indiana.

I love the idea of using as much of an animal as possible, so I've been rendering my own lard for a few years now. It's easy:

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Step 1: cut the fat into smaller pieces

 

The fat with the least amount of pork flavor is called leaf lard, and this is what you would want for baking.

Above, I defrosted one of the packages that came with a whole pig that I purchased, and cut the fat into smaller pieces. This was the most labor intensive part of the entire process.

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Step 2: simmer!

 

While the fat melted down, I washed my jars and rings in my dishwasher on the sanitize setting. The jars came out of the dishwasher still hot, and I was ready to package it all up.

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Step 3: strain into clean jars and let cool; Step 4: keep refrigerated or frozen

 

Line a sieve with cheesecloth and strain into the clean jars. The processed lard is a clear golden color which cools to an almost pristine white. (The final color can vary, so don't be concerned if it's not completely pure white.)Lard Book

 

I have my eye on this book, Lard: The Lost Art of Cooking with Your Grandmother's Secret Ingredient for more recipes, so that none of this wonderful ingredient goes to waste! (Note: We use an affiliate link with Changing Hands Bookstore, an independent, locally owned book store in Tempe, AZ.)

Pie crust, anyone?

 

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*There is a wealth of information on the internet about lard and how it compares to other shortenings and shelf-stable products made with trans fats. Read up, and as with all good things, use in moderation. Happy cooking!

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