Lard is a healthy, traditional fat from pigs that can be used to greatly enhance the flavor and nutrition of your home cooking and baking. Contrary to popular belief, lard does not make you fat. Perhaps the fact that lard is traditionally used for making pie crusts and eating too much pie will indeed make you fat is where the negative connotation comes from.
Animal fats such as chicken, goose, duck, tallow, and lard have nourished Traditional Cultures for centuries. The key is to source quality from healthy animals living in their natural environment outside.
The most nutritious and best quality lard is leaf lard, which is the fat around a pig’s kidneys. It is best to render lard once you have located a quality, pastured pig farmer in your local area. Lard contains high amounts of vitamin D when the pigs are allowed to be outside in the sunlight. Locating a source for pastured pork, then, is of primary importance to make sure you render lard of high nutritional quality.
The pork “cracklings” that are left over after rendering the lard can be placed on a cookie sheet in a warm oven overnight to dry out. They make a great snack alone or topping for salads!
Lard: A Healthy Fat Used for Millenia
Most people don’t realize that McDonald’s used beef tallow, which is very similar to lard, to fry it’s french fries. This all changed about 30 years ago in favor of partially hydrogenated fats which caused the unfortunate switch to these very unhealthy Factory Fats!
When I render lard, I freeze it in one quart containers for easy storage and convenient access for cooking. Animal fat imparts valuable nutrition and wonderful flavor to roast vegetables. The reason many kids won’t eat veggies is because they are so tasteless! Roasting organic vegetables in a bit if chicken fat makes them absolutely delicious. My kids frequently ask why the veggies in restaurants are so tasteless and why the ones cooked at home are so yummy. Now you know the secret that Traditional Cultures always practiced!
Rendering Lard Recipe
Below are the steps for rendering lard in written form to easily refer to or print out for later use.
How to Render Lard
The steps to render lard yourself at home.
- 3 pounds leaf lard preferably pastured
- filtered water
Remove leaf lard from the freezer. Cut up into cube like pieces.
Put all of the cubes of lard in a large stockpot. Add a half cup or so of filtered water to the pot so that the lard doesn't scorch or burn once you start rendering it.
Put pot on the stove with the cover off and turn the heat to medium to low. Stir the lard every five minutes or so as it is warming up and melting.
It will take quite a bit of time for the lard to completely melt and separate from the cracklings which will come to the top with the liquid lard in the bottom.
Strain the liquified lard through a strainer lined with a cheescloth and into a large bowl. Allow the lard to cool slightly and then pour into mason jars. Once at room temperature, screw on the lids and refrigerate. Freeze what you won't use in a few weeks.
The cracklings that are left in the strainer can be placed on a plate covered in a towel and left to air dry. They can be used as snacks or put on salads.
Don’t Want to Make Lard?
If you decide making lard is not for you, fear not! You can buy pastured, premium leaf or pure lard from Radiant Life. This is a really awesome turn of events in recent years. It used to be only 10 years ago or so that you couldn’t buy unhydrogenated, unprocessed lard. You had to make it if you wanted to use it in your kitchen. Take advantage if time constraints are an issue for you in pursuing a Traditional Diet.
How to Render Lard: Instructional Video
Paula Jager, CSCS shows us how to render lard in this video class below. Please note that one pound of leaf lard will render approximately 1 pint of lard.
More Information on Healthy Fats
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist