Let’s talk lard. Using lard seems like a thing of the past; something our great-grandparents used but should never be consumed in this low-fat, no-fat society we live in today. Thinking of regular lard consumption brings on ideas of clogged arteries and instant heart attacks, but research is beginning to show that lard isn’t as bad as the reputation it has been given. Consumers have had vegetable oils, such as canola or corn, crammed down their throats as a “healthier alternative” when in fact these heavily processed oils are not our healthiest choices.
Pastured lard actually boasts several health benefits, including being a good source of vitamin A. It is also high in monounsaturated fat similar to olive oil. I know I would much rather reach for my home-rendered lard than use any other highly processed vegetable oil. Want to learn how to render your own lard at home? Follow these simple steps!
- Start with cold fat. I stick mine in the freezer until I am ready to make the lard. It is much easier to chop when cold.
- Remove any leftover meat that may be on the fat.
- Chop the fat into tiny cubes, the smaller the better. You can also use a food processor or meat grinder. I have chopped it by hand and used a meat grinder. I definitely preferred the meat grinder. If you use a processor, be careful not to process it too long. The heat from the blade can turn it into a giant sticky ball.
- Add 1/4 cup water to a Dutch oven or slow cooker. This is optional. It can prevent the fat from burning on the bottom before the fat starts to melt. I have never used water when I made my lard, and I have never had any problems. It will evaporate out as your fat cooks. Add your chopped fat into your pot or slow cooker.
- Cook on the lowest possible temperature. This is important if you want pure white fat that can be used in pastry. Cook the lard for a few hours stirring frequently. You don’t want it to over simmer or stick to the sides of your pot. If this happens, you can certainly still use the lard for cooking, but it may not be the mild flavored, white lard that is good for pastries.
- When the lard is finished, the bits left will float to the top. Line a strainer with cheesecloth and place it over a bowl. Strain your lard, and pour it into quart jars. Lard is shelf stable, but I usually keep some in the fridge as well.
- You can save the remaining bits, fry and salt them. These are cracklings which people snack on them or use them to top salads.
I typically use my lard for biscuits or pie crusts, but it also makes the best friend potatoes! Would you give lard a chance? How do you use lard? Leave a comment below and chime in. Also, don’t forget to subscribe for updates from the homestead!