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
2 ½ pounds Pork Fat
About 4 ounces of water
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.