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
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:
|Step 1: cut the fat into smaller
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.
|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.
|Step 3: strain into clean jars
and let cool; Step 4: keep refrigerated or
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.)
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?
*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!