Wednesday, February 29, 2012

HOW TO RENDER LARD

Rendering your own lard is a tradition being rediscovered and rendering lard in your own home is not a difficult task. Lard is a remarkably good source of Vitamin D and of monounsaturated fat: the same fatty acid found in olive oil and avocado and heralded for cardiovascular health benefits.

Lard is definitely a food that our grandmothers would recognize, recipes passed down from previous generations call for lard in pie crusts (try this old fashioned recipe) and tarts, pastries and biscuits and many other recipes.

You want true flakiness in your pastries: use lard. You want a little extra flavor in stews, gravies and a plethora of other recipes: use lard.  You don't need a lot, but the difference in taste is noticeable.

A jar full of creamy white, freshly rendered lard for cooking and baking is worth the minimal effort it takes to bottle some up; all that is required is filtered water, pork fat and some patience.



STOVE TOP METHOD FOR RENDERING LARD

INGREDIENTS

2 ½ pounds Pork Fat

About 4 ounces of water


DIRECTIONS

With a sharp knife, trim any blood spots or remaining meat from the lard.

Cube the fat into small cubes, about ½-inch in size.

Place the fat and the filtered water into a heavy bottomed stockpot and simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.




Cubed lard simmering in a cast iron pot.


After a time the water will evaporate and the fat will begin to melt. Continue to gently stir the melted fat periodically. Eventually,  the “cracklings” form. You know how bacon sputters sending hot fat out of a shallow pan? As moisture is released from the cracklings, it will definitely sputter like the bacon. Be careful not to get burned.

Eventually when those cracklings are crispy brown and there appears to be no more lard to cook off, you may remove your pot from the heat.




Lard cooked down to 'cracklings'.


Line a strainer with cotton cheesecloth or a paper coffee filter and strain the melted fat into hot sterilized canning jars, reserving the cracklings for another use (they’re quite tasty salted and eaten as a snack).

Allow jars to cool. The melted fat will be golden to golden-brown in color; when cooled it will become a creamy white. Keep in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 months or freeze and keep for up to a year. If you are going to put your jars into the freezer, leave 1 inch headroom.





Use your freshly rendered lard in pastries, as a fat for braising vegetables or seasoning meats, or even for making pizza dough. When you experience the amount of flavor achieved or  the extra flakiness of your pastries, with such a little amount of lard, you will not only be satisfied that their is no real detriment to your health, but that putting by your own lard is well worth the effort.

13 comments:

  1. Sounds awesome! Thanks for the info on how long it keeps. Is it super smelly when you render it down? Will my neighbors wonder if I started a tannery? :)

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    1. Actually, Laura, there is really no overwhelming aroma, your neighbors won't have a clue, and I personally like the idea that if you are going to eat meat nothing should go to waste. So with the added benefit of it actually being as healthy or healthier than many other 'oils', it really is a win-win situation.

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  2. My Great Aunt made (and I continue to make) a ginger cream cookie that requires a cup of bacon fat. It just doesn't taste the same without that ingredient...so I don't leave it out!

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  3. That's good to hear. Cheers to the nose to tail ideas. I'm leaning much more that way myself lately.

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  4. Bo, I always keep my bacon fat also! Great with greens, frying your eggs, starting some soup, making beans: a little goes a long way. Seems like grandmothers and great aunts really knew how to cook for more flavor and less waste, didn't they!

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  5. I enjoy making lard too, just the other day I made some in my crockpot. I put it on my porch cause it does kinda smell like a fryer when its cooking. I have been collecting those silicone (?i think) candy/ice cube trays from the thrift store..... you know the ones they make for all the different holidays.... I made hearts and skulls! they are awesome premeasured amounts to just plop in the pan.

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    1. Kirsten, I am really surprised your fat smelled so that you had to put it outdoors while you were rendering it. I'm curious, was it well-trimmed; purchased from a grocer or a local farmer; was it fat-back? Funny, because I never get a strong odor, or at least one that I find strong. I love the candy/ice cube tray idea, clever and practical. I am going to keep that tip in mind.

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    2. Chiming in here - there's a sensitivity to this, I think. I barely notice, but I have to start my render the minute the wife leaves for work, as a whiff of the rendering process literally sends her running. She HATES it.

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    3. You know, what is offensive to one person is not to another, particularly when it comes to smells. I do not find rendering good quality pork fat any more disagreeable than cooking bacon. I will say that one year we raised some pigs and fed them mostly soybeans instead of corn; when we cooked that pork up the smell was awful and the taste...well let us say I'll never finish off with soybeans ever again!

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  6. I'm beginning to feel strange vibes here. Every time I have a question,it seems you just posted about my very problem. While attending the Farmer market one of the vendors that I purchase chicken and beef and pork presented me with a 2 lb package of something very white and creamy looking. The market was crazy busy that day and I didn't know what she had given me until I saw her this past week......now all I had to do was figure out how to render lard from my gift Tadah and now I know!!!Thank you I'm beginning to feel a bit embarrassed.

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    1. Glad all your questions are being answered. Wouldn't it be wonderful if all parts of our life were like that? I'm a bit jealous someone gifted you a lovely package of pork fat. Love to hear how you fare!

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  7. I was just looking the last couple days at rendering my own lard. I need some pork fat for a recipe and wasn't sure if I should just buy it or make it. The recipe looks simple!

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  8. I have just started to render my first ever pork fat from my free range barley feed Saddleback pig that was 54kg carcass. There is no smell coming from my pot as it simmers on the stove top. Very exited to having the final result in a few hours time. thank you.

    shooziator

    p.s. Have a look on my youtube site under shooziator and you will see mum giving birth to one of the young I have used today.

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