Monday, October 12, 2009

How To Render Lard

****Below are steps to render your own lard.****

When people hear the word "lard", they mostly think bad things- fattening, unhealthy, bad for you, etc. Lard has developed a bad connotation over the years and has been replaced by things like crisco, margarine, vegetable oil, and canola oil.

I recently told someone that I was going to try and render my own lard for cooking. To that they replied,"I thought you ate healthy. Lard does not sound healthy."

So, this is attempt to dispell the myths that all fats are bad for you. All fats are not created equal.

"Today heart disease causes at least 40% of all US deaths. If, as we have been told, heart disease results from the consumption of saturated fats, one would expect to find a corresponding increase in animal fat in the American diet. Actually, the reverse is true. During the sixty-year period from 1910 to 1970, the proportion of traditional animal fat in the American diet declined from 83% to 62%, and butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. During the past eighty years, dietary cholesterol intake has increased only 1%. During the same period the percentage of dietary vegetable oils in the form of margarine, shortening and refined oils increased about 400% while the consumption of sugar and processed foods increased about 60%.2 " (The Skinny on Fats, Weston A. Price Foundation, see full article below)

Not too long ago, our grandmothers and their mothers all cooked and baked with pork lard and butter. In recent years, these two foods have been deemed "bad" fats and we've been dumbed down to thing that baking with margarine (which is one molecule away from plastic) and vegetable oil is better for us in some way.

As a matter of fact, when you hear the words "vegetable oil" one would think good things because of the word "vegetable". And "canola" certainly doesn't sound that harmful either.

Vegetable oil is made up largely of genetically modified (GMO) soy and corn. It is even used in paints, hydraulic fluid, and has various other industrial uses. Canola oil is made from a seed called the rapeseed. Sounds freaky, right? The name "canola oil" was given to make the oil more marketable. Rapeseed has high toxic amounts of erucic acid that is dangerous for human consumption. However, the hydrogenation of the rapeseed deems it safe for human consumption because it only has trace amounts of the erucic acid in it- yet its still in the oil. Canola oil is also an industrial oil that does not belong in the human body.

Here is a direct quote from an article "The Oiling of America" listed below to sort of sum this up for us.

"Most animal fats-like butter, lard and tallow-have a large proportion of saturated fatty acids. Saturated fats are straight chains of carbon and hydrogen that pack together easily so that they are relatively solid at room temperature. Oils from seeds are composed mostly of polyunsaturated fatty acids. These molecules have kinks in them at the point of the unsaturated double bonds. They do not pack together easily and therefore tend to be liquid at room temperature. Judging from both food data and turn-of-the-century cookbooks, the American diet in 1900 was a rich one-with at least 35 to 40 percent of calories coming from fats, mostly dairy fats in the form of butter, cream, whole milk and eggs. Salad dressing recipes usually called for egg yolks or cream; only occasionally for olive oil. Lard or tallow served for frying; rich dishes like head cheese and scrapple contributed additional saturated fats during an era when cancer and heart disease were rare. Butter substitutes made up only a small portion of the American diet, and these margarines were blended from coconut oil, animal tallow and lard, all rich in natural saturates."

To sum this up even further for us- our bodies know how to process naturally saturated animal fats and fats like lard, butter, coconut oil, and tallow. Foreign and ancient diets high in natural saturated fats have low risks of heart disease, high cholesterol, and cancers. Seed oils our bodies don't really know what to do with because of all of the extensive porcessing and hydrogenation to achieve the seed oils.

"The relative good health of the Japanese, who have the longest life span of any nation in the world, is generally attributed to a lowfat diet. Although the Japanese eat few dairy fats, the notion that their diet is low in fat is a myth; rather, it contains moderate amounts of animal fats from eggs, pork, chicken, beef, seafood and organ meats. With their fondness for shellfish and fish broth, eaten on a daily basis, the Japanese probably consume more cholesterol than most Americans. What they do not consume is a lot of vegetable oil, white flour or processed food (although they do eat white rice.) The life span of the Japanese has increased since World War II with an increase in animal fat and protein in the diet." (Skinny on Fats, Weston A. Price Foundation. See below.)

After seeking alternatives to the modern use of crisco, vegetable oil, canola oil, and margarine I discovered the unique benefits of cooking with pork lard and raw grass-fed butter.

Here is a chart of of the best sources of obtaining good fats in your diet (taken from "Nourishing Traditions" by Sally Fallon)

- Fresh Butter and Cream from pastured animals; preferrably raw
- Lard
- Beef, Lamb, Goose, and Duck fat from pastured animals
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Unrefined Flax Seed Oil in small amounts
- Coconut and Palm Oil

Second to Cod Liver, pork lard is among the top foods in obtaining Vitamin D in our diets. The key to benefitting from vitamin D in pork lard, is by rendering lard from pigs raised in natural sun light.

Commercially raised pigs never see the light of day. So, their lard would be low in Vitamin D, not to mention that animals store their toxins in their fat therefore making the diet of the pig extremely important during its life.

Lard is a stable fat that is largely used in baking and cooking. We have our butcherer save our pork fat (we sell this as well) so that we are able to render our own lard from our pigs raised on pasture and fed 100% USDA certified organic grains.

I've barely even scratched the surface here. The subject of fats in our diet is highly complex and somewhat scientific.

As with anything, you will run into information on both ends of the spectrum. Always consider your sources. If you are interested in looking into digging deeper into this subject, I encourage you to do so and not just take my word for it.

I've compiled a list of articles from the Weston A. Price Foundation- a nonprofit, tax-exempt charity founded in 1999 to disseminate the research of nutrition pioneer Dr. Weston Price, whose studies of isolated nonindustrialized peoples established the parameters of human health and determined the optimum characteristics of human diets.

How to render your own lard on the stove top (you can also render in the oven):

1. Find a cute farmer willing to cut up your fat for ya!!! Just kidding. Not really:)

I have a hard time cutting up the fat since its a lot! So, Jason helps me with this step and for that I'm grateful!

Here is what it looks like in the package de-thawed.

2. Place cut up lard in a large stock pot. Turn to medium heat and let the pork fat do its thing. Keep in mind that it is pork, so a splatter screen might come in handy.

You will let pork cook on medium heat for about 45 minutes and stirring occasionally. Be careful not to overcook the pork fat because it will give your lard a "pork" flavor. Pork lard that is rendered correctly doesn't have a pork flavor to it.

3. Once the pork lard begins to float and look like this, continue cooking for about another 10 minutes watching it closely and stirring the pork fat.

4. Remove from heat once its done.

5. The steps I use for straining are....

Place a strainer in a bowl.

Triple line it with cheesecloth and pour pork fat and cracklings into the strainer lined with cheesecloth.

It should look like this after you've strained it.

6. Save your pork cracklings! These are good to use in bean recipes and cornbread recipes. Yum!

7. Use your jelly funnel to pour into glass jars.

8. Once it cools down to room temperature, place it in the fridge for storage. It should look creamy white once it has cooled down.


Aldape family said...

Wow! You never cease to amaze me with all of this knowledge! That looks super easy enough I will have to try this...BTW I think we are probably joining your CS drop! How about that! It is about time! *along with the folks!
Love you all

sugarcreekfarm said...

You would love the book "Real Food : What to Eat and Why"!

Somewhere around here I have a recipe for "Cracklin' Cookies". Really! One of my little old ladies at church shared it with me, after I gave her some of our pork fat. She was so happy to get to make home rendered lard again!

Our locker grinds our pork fat for us - no cutting necessary, and it melts down much faster :)

Mommy, M.D. said...

I'm wishing I had some of that today! I'm making beef stew (your recipe), and I noticed that Julia Child's legendary beef burgundy recipe calls for browning the meat in pork fat first. I like biscuits with stew, and lard biscuits would be perfect. You should sell it; I'm probably not motivated enough to make my own but I would buy it from you.

mandi said...

wow! that's pretty amazing.

the subject of fat is so interesting to me. mainly because of all of the misinformation we've been fed for so long.

Grace @ Ruby Moon Designs said...

Dang girl, you are one amazing farm woman! Thanks for the info about healthy fats and for sharing your "recipe" for rendering lard.


larissa said...

Mmmmm, pork fat! Thanks for the how-to.

Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff!


mikaljains said...

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