If you’d told me thirty years ago that in the future I’d be rendering lard, I would have thought you were out of your mind.
I was in the fat-free zone; plain steamed veggies for lunch, toast with jam for breakfast, etc.
When I look back, I realize just how much sugar I was actually consuming in the form of healthier carbs, while keeping my healthy fat intake extremely low; all in the name of nutrition.
Healthy fats that help create a good balance of hormones and brain power.
Fats that have been traditionally used for ages and were, in fact, relied upon for their benefits.
While I feel that any foods, healthy or not, can be overused to the point of ill health or obesity, real foods are the wellsprings of health.
‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.’ ~Hippocrates
And rendering your own lard is pretty simple.
Here are the basics:
- Get some pig fat.
Whether you grow your own pig or purchase fat from a local butcher- the most important thing is to be sure it was raised on land, with as much time outdoors as the piggy wanted and fed on real foods.
Historically, pigs were often allowed to root around a farm as they pleased, or in the woods, feeding on roots, plants, nuts and such.
You want fat from a naturally raised pig.
2. Preheating your oven to 250-280 degrees (no higher) cut the fat into chunks.
This will help speed the rendering process.
Don’t worry about streaks of meat in the fat, these will separate and brown into ‘cracklings’ which you’ll fish out.
You can choose to eat these or not, or feed some to your dog.
Some people love them- including Laura Ingalls Wilder.
However, ‘Ma’ said they were too rich for little children to eat much. 🙂
3. Place the fat into a large roasting pan and bake it.
The fat will soon begin melting into a lard puddle.
It can take 2-3 hours, depending on how much fat you’re rendering.
As it bakes, the lard will separate from the rest. You can scoop out any brown, crispy parts as you go or wait a bit.
Just don’t allow them to become too dark brown or it can flavor your lard.
Feed the left over bits to your chickens or give a few to your dog as a treat. Or simply throw them away if you like.
*Important: Take caution when removing from the oven. The pan may be heavy.
When cleaning up your lard pans later, DO NOT pour any lard solids or liquid down your sink or disposal.
This can clog your drain pipes as it cools and solidifies.
4. Scoop out all of the crispy stuff and leftover chunks.
5. Using a colander over a large, stable bowl, line it with cheesecloth, a dishtowel or large filter (whichever you have.)
Strain the liquid lard.
6. Pour lard into clean jars.
Using care to not spill grease everywhere, ladle the lard into clean, sterilized jars. (A canning funnel can help)
Wipe the jar rims and place heated canning lids and bands on top. (Simmer them in a small pot of water)
Allow to rest on a towel til completely cool or overnight.
The lard will turn snowy white.
At this point, you can refrigerate for up to 4 months or freeze for a year.
Another option, while the lard and jars are still warm, is to can it according to official canning directions.
The lard will last much longer.
An average family, raising a pig each year and eating it in moderation, can have plenty of farm-raised pork and lard to last til the following year.
Pigs have only so much bacon and fat, so stretching that to last a year keeps these food amounts in their proper proportion.
The rich amounts of Vitamin D in lard are superb immunity boosters through the winter months!
That’s my 2 cents. 🙂