Good Lard!

So I’m really into Saturated Fats right now. Why? Because they are delicious, they don’t cause heart disease (BOOM), and they are incredibly resistant to oxidation. (Unlike the dreaded CANOLA OIL, bah, humbug!)

Unlike vegetable and seed oils, fat from pastured animals is low in Omega-6  fatty acids; which helps us maintain a closer ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fats in the body. Omega 6s aren’t evil, they’re just over-present in our modern diets, which causes the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory processes in the body to fall out of balance, setting the stage for, ironically, many of the ailments that fat has actually been blamed for.

I’d go so far as to say that the only fats you should be cooking with are saturated fats. Feel free to use the other non-industrial oils on salads, in dips, and of course for homemade mayonnaise. Just try not to heat them, and never use vegetable or canola oil.

Fun fact: “Saturated fat” is a bit of a misnomer. Most “saturated fats” are a blend of saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fat. Pork fat in particular is pretty low in Sat Fat. Not that it matters to a Cave Girl (winky emoticon).

I’ve been using my coconut oil from Wilderness Family Naturals and ghee from Pure Indian Foods, but I’ve been wanting to try rendering my own Lard for some time.  I refuse to use non-pastured animal fats because, first, you can bet commercial animals aren’t treated with respect; and second, the crap they’re fed makes for a nutritionally crappy end product. (I ❤ Morality+Science!)

So if you can’t ensure the quality of your animal fat, stick with coconut oil and order some ghee from Pure Indian Foods!

Lard (rendered pork fat) fell out of favor as the commercial vegetable oil industry came in. Even Mexican food, traditionally made with lard, has replaced this traditional fat with soybean and corn oils. The concomitant health issues are no surprise to me.

I got my Leaf Lard (the most prized kind of lard) from Cherry Grove Farm.

 

Leaf lard from pastured pigs.

First step is to chop up the lard. The Leaf Lard is like a brick and it takes a little muscle to chop it up, but once you’re done it’s smooth sailing.

I recommend opening a window during this process if you don’t like the smell of delicious.

Next, add about 1/2 cup of water per 1/2 pound of lard to a saucepan to keep the lard from browning immediately. Add the chunks of lard to the saucepan and set heat to medium-low.

 

Don't over-fill the saucepans.

Stir carefully every 20 minutes. You may hear loud pops – this is normal. Around this time (40 minutes to an hour) and your lard should look more like this:

 

These floaters are called "cracklings," I believe. You may find them tasty too.

Once you’re satisfied (or once you’ve run out of new material on Perez Hilton), you can strain the rendered fat through a colander or cheesecloth as I did:

 

Cheesecloth can be found at most supermarkets and is very useful and inexpensive.

I allowed the rendered lard to cool for a bit, then poured it into mason jars. I’m thinking I allowed my lard to brown a bit too much, which the interwebs stated could create a less neutral flavor, but to me it’s still a totally neutral flavor. While at times I feel the flavor of coconut isn’t quite right, this will be a perfect substitute.

 

Once the fat solidifies it will have a whitish hue.

 

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15 Responses to “Good Lard!”

  1. awesome post. We’re heading to Cherry Grove this Sunday if the weather is nice to stock up and chase their pigs around their giant forest-pen. Love that place.

  2. Lard is good stuff. I’m using some on roasted cauliflower exactly right at this moment. Smells so good. (It’s actually bacon drippings)

    I think of tallow as having slightly more saturated fat content. I was actually going to ask you for a good source for beef fat. If Cherry Grove has it, that would be perfect.

    • You should definitely call ahead. When I brought this home, it was the only one and all they had was pork leaf lard! They just got bacon back in after a looong hiatus…I bought almost 100 bucks worth. So let me know if you run outta bacon – I’d be glad to share!

  3. I’m 83 years old and was raised on pork drippings. We smothered it on bread just as you would butter. I loved the stuff. We also had beef drippin which was not as soft as the pork and not as much to my liking.
    This brings back fond memories. Now to get out and buy the grass fed beef 🙂
    Peg

    • Enjoy! I love your comment – and I love the idea of getting back to a more basic diet driven by what’s available and homemade instead of what’s available at the Super Grocery. I can tell you there are very few things I will have childhood memories of eating (except popcorn!) I think food should be enjoyable enough to be remembered in that way.

  4. This sounds like heresy to me, having been educated in the “lard: bad, vegetable oil: good” school for so many years. Explain it again, please.

    • In short, Vegetable oil is chemically extracted and highly processed. Anything partially hydrogenated has had hydrogen forceably added to its molecules, making it less stable and adding the potential for trans-fat content. You couldn’t make vegetable oils in your home. Saturated fats occur naturally, are easily made (as you can see!) and, not surprisingly, I advocate the use of simple food that can be made at home based on the idea that “life in its fullness is mother nature obeyed!”

    • Lard = mostly monounsaturated fat. Kind of like olive oil. It shocked me that I’d been bamboozled all those years about lard being saturated. If I keep it in the fridge I can still scoop it out of the tub with a spoon. You can’t do that with butter, which is why you often find special “spreadable” brands from the major commercial butter sellers, mixed with olive oil or canola or whatever. Butter is way more saturated than lard. Funny how butter is still more OK to use at holiday time but at no time of the year is lard ever considered acceptable. But olive oil is some kind of health elixir…?

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