Hand Rendered Organic Pastured Lard is Delectable
Did you know that for hundreds of years animal fats played a primary role in the human diet? It’s not until recent years that the American society has deemed saturated animal fats the enemy. We’ve all seen it in the headlines recently about the myth of animal fats being detrimental to our health. Guess what? That myth is now being debunked! The fact is, animal fat from healthy animals is excellent for your health.
Your Choice – Man Made or God Made
I like to think of it this way – in simple terms – did God create animals with fat to live off of or did He give us tubs of margarine and Crisco? The answer is obvious. As I have cut out processed foods and man-made (or lab-made) foods, I have realized that eating what the good Lord gave us in the first place is really what our bodies tolerate and do well with.
Our ancestors all cooked with these animal fats that are saturated but also high in monounsaturated fats that are very stable and they have a small amount of polyunsaturated fats as well. Saturated animals fats help our bodies absorb calcium, vitamin D, E and A as well and they have omega 3 fatty acids in them! They also contribute to optimal brain health since our brain needs fat and cholesterol to function properly.
Based on that notion, in our family, we eat animal fats in some form or another every day. Of course, we eat them in reasonable amounts as a complementary ingredient to our big plates of vegetables and fist size portions of meat. Sometimes we may choose, bacon grease or grass-fed beef tallow. sometimes organic shmaltz (chicken fat) and of course pastured lard.
The Most Important Thing – Quality Matters
The quality of your animal fat matters my friend. If you are eating fat from sick, undernourished and mistreated animals, then you are damaging your health. However, when you choose animal fat from grass-fed and pastured organic animals (much like our ancestors used), then you can trust you are nourishing your brain as well as many cells in your body by giving them what they need.
How to Render Your Own Pastured Lard
Rendering fat to make pastured lard is actually quite simple. However, it’s a process that will take several hours so be sure you have ample time set aside. The finished product is quite tasty and a wonderful accomplishment and well worth the time it takes.
Each year we purchase a whole pastured pig and split it with my parents. I would imagine someday with all these hungry boys I live with that we won’t need to split it! When we receive the pig each year I always ask for the organs, bones and fat. Usually I will also ask the butcher to separate the Back Fat from the Leaf Fat. There’s quite a difference. Each year I plan a day to be at home so I can render the lard from that years pig.
Pastured Pork Back Fat
This type of fat comes from the areas near the skin and muscles of the pig and tends to have a mild “porky” flavor. It’s great for sauteing and frying foods in. I have baked with it before too and it wasn’t bad at all.
Pastured Pork Leaf Fat
This type of fat is actually prized among bakers because it lends to ultra flaky crusts and has virtually no “porky” taste at all. It is found in the fat deposits near the kidneys and surrounding the loin.
In the pictures you’ll see in this post I do not have the Back and Leaf fat separated because, much to my disappointment, I forgot to ask the butcher this time to separate them! I just rendered it all together this time. I could tell which fat was each kind but didn’t want to bother separating it because it was all frozen together in one huge chunk.
The Supplies You Will Need to Render Your Pork Fat
- Meat Grinder (I use my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer with the meat grinder attachment.)
- One Large and One Medium Stainless Steel Bowl
- Large Stockpot With a Heavy Bottom
- One Large, Fine Mesh Strainer (to fit over the big stainless steel bowl)
- One Small, Fine Mesh Strainer (to fit over the glass canning jars)
- One Large, Stainless Steel Spoon
- One Medium, Stainless Steel Slotted Spoon
- Several Sterilized Pint or Quart Ball or Kerr Glass Canning Jars, lids and rings – wide mouth is best (not pictured in photo above)
- A Very Sharp Serrated Knife
- A No-Slide Plastic Cutting Board (this is about the only time I used plastic in my house – for raw meat)
The Step by Step Process to Hand Render Your Pork Fat
When we get our pastured, organic pork fat, it usually comes in one or two huge frozen bags from the butcher. The goal is to take that huge bag of fat and render it down to lard so that it fits in nice glass jars for storing on the shelf and can be used on a whim for cooking and baking.
That’s the big side of my entire kitchen sink filled with the bag of pastured, organic pork fat.
1 | Step One
The first step is to LIGHTLY thaw the fat. What I mean by that is to thaw it just so you can pull piece by piece out of the big chunk in the bag. *You’ll want to be careful that the fat does not get to room temperature during the cutting and grinding process. The refrigerator is your friend.
2 | Step Two
Take each strip of fat and cut in into smaller pieces that can be fed through your meat grinder slot.
3 | Step Three
Feed each chunk of fat into the meat grinder. The reason you need to get the fat down to this size is that it melts in the pot evenly and quickly and doesn’t burn like it would when there are some small pieces and some large pieces.
4 | Step Four
Place as much fat at you can fit in your stock pot and turn the burner on medium heat. As soon as you see the fat starting to melt (you’ll see liquid at the bottom of the pan) you’ll want to turn the heat down to almost as low as it will go – maybe a one or two. At this point, you will let the fat continue to melt until you are able to pour off some of the liquid. During this process, you’ll want to stir the fat fairly often so it doesn’t burn on the bottom. It won’t burn easily though since you are using a heavy bottom pan.
*If you burn your fat (at this point lard) you will have ruined the entire batch and will have to start all over because burnt lard is nasty. Watch your stove and don’t burn your lard please. If you see that your fat is not melting very well then feel free to turn the heat up just a tad so quicken the process. Don’t be in a hurry though because your lard will burn if you are.
5 | Step Five
When you are at a point when enough of your fat has been rendered into lard, you can start pouring off the liquid. You’ll want to start pouring off your lard into your clean glass jars every half hour or so.
When you pour off the liquid, you’ll need to do the first straining. You will pour the liquid fat through the large fine mesh sieve and into the large stainless steel bowl. *Wear potholder gloves in case any splashes and also wear an apron so you don’t ruin your clothes.
Once you have poured off as much liquid as you can, place the fat in the pot back on the stove and continue melting it. Al,so keep stirring it as often as you were before. You can add more ground up fat in the pot at this point to melt more. Again, just make sure nothing is burning and you don’t want the liquid that is melting to turn a light brown color because that means it is burnt.
6 | Step Six
Once the lard in the large stainless steel bowl has cooled a tiny bit, you can pour through the small fine mesh strainer into your glass jar. *The purpose of double straining is so that you don’t get any left over cartilage, fat chunks, or membranes in your finished lard. That would ruin the whole thing.
7 | Step Seven
At this point, you can wipe the rim of the glass jar off with a clean paper towel and place the lid on it. As the lard cools you will hear the lid pop. This means that the canning jar is sealed air tight.
Miscellaneous Tips Tricks and Hacks
- You will continue the above steps until all of your fat is rendered into lard.
- You will have little bits left in your pot that won’t melt into a liquid. Once you’re done rendering your lard you can brown and crisp these bits and eat them as crispy lardons.
- Your lard should be pure white once it cools and hardens. If it has any color to it like cream color or light tan you have burned it and it won’t taste good. I’m sorry! Give that to the birds and try again.
- Be sure to label all your jars with what kind of fat is in them and the date. Since lard is shelf stable, you can store in on the shelf in these airtight containers. I have several on my shelves that have been there for a few years and I opened one the other day and it is perfect, smells great and excellent for cooking with. If you’d like, you can also store these jars in the refrigerator. Once they are opened you’ll definitely need to store them in the refrigerator because the oxygen will now have a chance to make the lard go rancid.
- Be prepared to use your homemade essential oil cleaners to wipe up any grease spills from the counter and the stove!
The white jars are lard that has completely cooled and solidified and the opaque, cream colors jars are lard that is still in its cooling phase but will turn white once they have cooled.
Don’t Be Afraid of Animal Fats and Go Render Yourself some Pastured Lard
Don’t be afraid of this process and don’t be afraid of eating animal fats! I bet that your Grandma and Grandpa made the best darn biscuits and pies with their rendered lard and guess what, they probably lived a long life. Rendering lard and raising pastured, healthy animals a lost art and something we can all benefit from doing both in skill and in health! Let me know if you try rendering your own lard and if you have any questions by commenting down below.