|snow white lard!|
This is snow white lard. I seriously love to eat it by the spoonful! No, not really. I do, however, enjoy the satisfaction that comes with rendering. From the farm to my cookies, or my deeply fried french fries. Do you love it too? Have you ever eaten an incredibly flaky pie crust and suspected one of life's most delicious ingredients had graced your plate? Have you ever eaten a french fry or potato chip that just blew the top of yourn pretty little head clean off because it was so YUMMY!?
You can actually produce this stuff in your own kitchen. It's pure, unadulturated, healthy lard. What? Healthy?! Yes, it actually comes in at a close second to olive oil in the monounsaturated fat department, plus, you can get away with heating it at much higher temperatures. To learn a lot more about the great benefits of choosing home made lard check out: http://www.weedemandreap.com/2013/02/the-top-3-reasons-why-you-should-be-eating-lard.html
Now come with me on a journey of learning to render!
What comes first?
Sadly, this does:
|adorable sweet baby piggy nibbling on my kid's foot|
My husband literally brings home the bacon from a wonderful man who hails from just over the river and through the woods on a different little family farm. The piggies that we eat are also super cute as babies. They love to frolic around the yard, jumping high, capering around, basically making you feel evil, Charlotte's Web style. The farmer really does win blue ribbons at local fairs. We are so blessed to get our beef and pork from them! It's hard for me to fathom going back to wondering what the poor meat on my table went through before it even got the grocery store... I am very glad that the animals we eat weren't treated cruelly. They are literally the happiest pigs on earth for the duration of their rather short lives. I realize that not every one is so blessed, but I do hope we all steadily move in the direction of caring a little more about our health and all the animals in our care!
Oh, you sly dogs, you got me monologing! Let's skip to the part where I get serious in my kitchen. When my hubby brings home our piggy goodies once a year, he hands me a couple of bags of fat. It looks super gross, like fat should. I thoughtfully took a picture for you. You're welcome.
That is a very large stock pot. This year I had two of these tall boys chuck full. Thankfully, the butcher grinds the fat up for us. This is not the very highest quality of fat, which is 'leaf fat'. I guess leaf fat is not very porky smelling and comes from a certain part of the pig. Mine, however, is the whole hogs worth. (Hogsworth sounds like a Dicken's character. He probably has the gout.) If you can't get it pre-ground, chill it in the freezer to cube up easily with a knife.
The heating part is super hard! No, not really. Now, heat it slowly in the oven with just a little water in the pot or pan. A cup should do for several pounds of fat. Adjust accordingly. The water will keep it from browning up on the bottom and will evaporate out.
Just press the fat pieces against the sides of the pot/roaster occasionally to speed up the melting. This process takes about 3 hours or so, depending on how much you are working with. Just check it every half hourish. When most of it's clear and the meaty bits are the minority, no longer pink, then carefully remove it from your heat source and pour it through some sort of straining system right into your storage containers. If it is scentless, then congrats! That's awesome! Fact is, it may smell a bit porky, but no prob, as it cools, it will be less and less so, in my experience. Here is a picture of it right after being poured. It is yellowy or, a golden brown in the case of LONGER cooked batch. The dark stuff is not bad lard, it is just porky. It will cool to be white too, although perhaps not as brilliantly a blinding white. Not awesome for some baking, unless that's your thing. In that case, go ahead, pork up those apple pies. Make sure to label the product before it cools as it may be hard to see the difference when it cools completely. I didn't get a picture of this because I'm blogging while it cools. Right. now.
|Frying lard is on the left and baking is on the right. One will be a nice snowy white, the other a pretty good white.|
A little thinking ahead will go a long way during this straining/pouring step. Have your preferred containers clean, dry and ready on a protected surface. Tupperware, leftover sour cream containers, or balloons. I think newspaper spread over your table or counter is a great option. Plastic wrap would work. Use whatever you can discard without scrubbing down your whole kitchen. A canning funnel came in handy. A strainer lined with paper toweling or cheese cloth will work great! I just read that some folk will line a colander with a terry cloth towel and pour their goodies through that into a large baking dish. The lard is then cooled in the refrigerator and later cut into bars with are wrapped in waxed paper, like sticks of butter. Muffin tins... the possibilities are endless. You can see that I used gigantor half gallon canning jars.
See the little pint of baking lard hiding on the top? That means that I won! I made more pretty white stuff than frying stuff! For real, it is all super good, so whatever.
Here is the real prize that we didn't chat about yet:
|CRACKLIN'S FOR YOUR MOUTH|
Awkward wrap up with no smooth transition: So! Enjoy cooking with your own home rendered lard! Substitute it for butter! Oil! Or butter! Have fun!
1.) heat pork fat at 300 degrees
2.) check every half hour, pressing against the sides
3.) when mostly clear liquid is left with plenty of meaty bits floating about, remove from oven
4.) strain into containers (do not use balloons)
5.) mark for frying or baking and let cool
6.) store in refrigerator or freezer
7.) finish cracklings on their own so as not to ruin your lard
8.) eat copious amounts of crackling
9.) blog about it like a boss