• Loving Lard – How To Make And Use Rendered Pork Fat

    by  • February 24, 2013 • Featured, Homesteading, Make it Yourself, Meat, Preserving, Recipes & Meals • 8 Comments

    homemade pork lard recipe
    Oh, lard. Mention the word and some people turn up their noses, remembering days of eating cookies that tasted like pork. Others are curious, having never eaten lard to their knowledge. And then there are those of us whose faces break into knowing smiles.

    All About Lard

    High quality lard is a pure-white fat. It remains solid at room temperature. It should smell only slightly porky, if at all, and that flavor bakes away when cooking.

    Home-processed pork lard is arguably healthier than vegetable shortening because it doesn’t contain trans or hydrogenated fats. It contains less saturated fat than butter and is 45% monounsaturated fat, one of the more heart-healthy kinds. Lard also contains vitamin D naturally.

    Pay attention to lard labels if purchasing – some are hydrogenated to be shelf stable which transforms some of the good fat into trans fats. Others contain preservatives like BHT which you may want to avoid. I recommend buying directly from a local pork producer like Morning Sun Organic Farm.

    How To Make Lard

    Start with high quality pork fat from around the organs (leaf lard) or body of the animal. When we recently slaughtered and butchered a Large Black pig from Six Buckets Farm, we ended up with 18 pounds of fat unattached to muscle cuts. Lyndsey, the farmer, was concerned that we might be upset with the excess fat, but I assured her we knew what to do with it.
    lard cookinglard with cracklinsstraining lard
    Set up a rendering pot, a heavy bottomed non-reactive lidded pot over an adjustable heat source. Some prefer to do this outside over a propane stove because the slightly porky smell can bother some folks. A crockpot set up in a garage or porch is another idea.

    Add in your pork fat, ideally fresh and chunked into small pieces. Ours was frozen this time so we started the heat very low, breaking up the pieces as it thawed. Add a little water and the lid so the fat begins to simmer over low heat. You want the fat to melt out of any proteins that might hold it in place without burning those same proteins. Stir frequently to prevent sticking on the bottom.

    In one to three hours, you’ll have a pool of fat with some pork cracklins. Drain the cracklins on a towel and eat as a snack or on salad. Pour off the liquid lard into a non-reactive container like a mason jar. Some people stir in salt at this point to flavor and preserve the fat. Allow it to come to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for up to a month or freeze for up to a year.

    What To Cook With Lard

    Lard makes the best pastry. Lard pie crust (I use Ruhlman’s 3-2-1 ratio of  flour, fat, and water by weight with at least 30 minute rest in fridge) is flavor neutral and bakes into a flaky yet strong dough to contain fillings. Lard dough is very easy to work. Sometimes I mix lard 50/50 with butter because the butter flavor is desired.

    You can pan-fry meat or vegetables in lard. It is a useful emulsifier in pates. Many traditional recipes like Mexican tamales and refried beans call for lard. Some chefs are even advancing the fat to be used as a spread like butter – whipped salted lard was part of a bread and spreads platter I ordered in October at Cleveland’s The Greenhouse Tavern.

    homemade lard in mason jar

    Pork Lard
    1. Start with leaf fat, back fat, or belly fat from pork. Cut into one inch pieces and place in a clean deep sided pot.
    2. Add a little water to the pot, cover, and begin to heat over low heat. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Continue until all fat is melted, one to three hours. Add more water as needed to keep fat from browning.
    3. Cook as long as desired to crisp up cracklings (delicious on salad or as a garnish!) and then strain through cheese cloth or a paper coffee filter.
    4. Pour lard into clean glass containers and allow to cool to room temperature. You may add salt to taste while it is still liquefied  Refrigerate and use within a month or freeze for up to a year.

    Do you use lard? Do you make it?

    PS. Like Harmonious Homestead of Facebook to see photo outtakes featuring a certain lard lovin’ kitty, Moonshine.

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    I live to eat and eat to live, planning every meal to include as much local and seasonal abundance as possible. My favorite color is purple, my favorite vegetable is whatever is fresh and local, and my favorite drink is whatever you're pouring. Follow me @racheltayse


    8 Responses to Loving Lard – How To Make And Use Rendered Pork Fat

    1. February 24, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      How can lard be stored long term?

      • February 24, 2013 at 1:11 pm

        I recommend a few months in the fridge or a year in the freezer. It doesn’t go bad, necessarily, but begins to absorb other flavors.

    2. February 25, 2013 at 9:23 am

      If you don’t want to make your own you can also buy containers of lard at Plaza Tapatia Mexican Market. Great for tamales.

      • February 25, 2013 at 9:39 am

        Bluescreek at the North Market sells lard too. One of their varieties has preservatives and the other doesn’t.

    3. Pingback: Canadian Thanksgiving aka My Time as Butcher aka Making Lard from Scratch | sophisticatedjerseygirl

    4. Debbie
      October 20, 2013 at 8:12 pm

      I made my own lard, second try. It still seems a bit runny, and slightly tan. I believe it may have scorched in the first few minutes. Can I firm it up by re-simmering again?

    5. Heidi
      February 13, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      Can you pressure can the lard in the mason jars to give it longer shelf life and save room in the freezer? I worry about putting glass in the freezer for that long of a time. I obviously haven’t researched it, but wanted to put it out there in case anyone had tried it.

    6. Mary O'Grady
      December 14, 2015 at 12:12 pm

      Griebenschmalz is a traditional North German spread for bread or rolls, made with chopped onions and bits of peeled, cored apple cooked in rendered pork fat. It turns up in small crocks on the table in places like Bremerhaven, my husband’s home city. Tightly covered, it keeps for months in the refrigerator and also freezes well.

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