One of the many new things we are doing in our kitchen this week is rendering Lard. It’s a lot simpler than you would think, it just takes a little time, but not much effort.
While we were at the meat market (see THIS post about our exciting 1st trip) we picked up 3 1/2 lb. package of fat back. Given that fat back has no meat in it, or very little if any, it really cuts down on the prep-time. If you do have fat with meat in it you will need to carefully cut out all the meat and/or bloody spots, as this will contaminate your Lard causing it to go rancid after a short period of time.
You will need to cut the fat into small cubes. Ours ended up being a little less than an inch squared ~ roughly. Place it in a pot and add about 1/2 inch of water. Simmer very gently for several hours. Stirring often(ish).
The water will evaporate out and begin to be replaced with liquid fat that is melting out of the chunks. I’m not one to time my cooking, so after a few to several hours the fat chunks will slowly shrivel up and begin to brown. They will also start to float on the surface. Keep simmering. Your goal is when you see the chunks of, what is now cracklings, sink to the bottom of your pan and are nicely browned and crunchy then your Lard is done.
Strain through a fine mesh sieve lined with cheese cloth. You will end up with a golden liquid with a delightful aroma. Transfer to a jar and store on the counter. In the picture below you will see our freshly jarred Lard on the left.
Lard is a healthy saturated fat that is stable at room temperature for up to several months. If you refrigerate it you will notice that it becomes firm, similar to butter, and takes on a creamy appearance. But when brought back to room temperature it will become a golden liquid once more.
This morning we fried our grass-fed eggs in our new Lard.
A great article to read about the health benefits of Lard is written by Mary G. Enig, PhD and Sally Fallon called “The Skinny on Fats”. The section on Lard specifically reads:
“Lard or pork fat is about 40% saturated, 48% monounsaturated (including small amounts of antimicrobial palmitoleic acid) and 12% polyunsaturated. Like the fat of birds, the amount of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will vary in lard according to what has been fed to the pigs. In the tropics, lard may also be a source of lauric acid if the pigs have eaten coconuts. Like duck and goose fat, lard is stable and a preferred fat for frying. It was widely used in America at the turn of the century. It is a good source of vitamin D, especially in third-world countries where other animal foods are likely to be expensive. Some researchers believe that pork products should be avoided because they may contribute to cancer. Others suggest that only pork meat presents a problem and that pig fat in the form of lard is safe and healthy.”
This is, of course, referring to Lard made from an animal that was pastured. Certainly, do yourself a favor and read the entire article. You will learn a lot about the different types of healthy fats and why they are healthy. Most importantly to note: they do NOT make you fat. Your body needs these healthy fats/oils.
Hint: Doing this in a cast iron skillet would also be a good way to season that skillet at the same time. Nothing seasons cast iron better than animal fats.