What are your goals when it comes to feeding your family? Are “clean”, whole foods important to you? Because of your busy life do you want convenience?
As a busy farm mom I understand these desires. It is my goal to serve food that is as close to its natural state as possible. This means I do not knowingly cook animal products that have been given antibiotics, genetically modified grains, or chemical dewormers. I want to serve “clean” meats from animals that have lived lives the way their Creator designed them to live.
As a farm family we have the privilege of raising our cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, ducks and geese in such a way that they are allowed to express their own unique qualities. They are all allowed to eat the food they were designed to eat and the living conditions they were designed for.
One of our staple protein sources is our all-natural, pasture-raised pork. As we have been discussing in previous blog posts, we make many different things with our pork. Lard is the final item we make.
Lard is pork fat that is collected from various areas of a pig and rendered into an easily usable form by heating the fat to the melting point then straining. Rendering fat makes lard smooth and convenient. There are two types of lard that can be made from pork fat.
Back fat is the fat from the back of a pig. It is a hard fat that can be chopped or ground. It is the key ingredient used in sausages to add flavor and juiciness.
Leaf fat is specifically the soft fat from around the kidneys and loin of a pig. It has a very soft, spreadable consistency at room temperature.
We generally mix the two fats together for rendering.
Bacon drippings are the fat that accumulates in the pan when cooking bacon. We simply pour these drippings in a glass jar and refrigerate until we are ready to use them. Bacon drippings add a bacony flavor to any foods you cook in it.
I use what is called the “dry method” to render my lard. I find the simplest way to render lard is to cut it into cubes and put into your slow cooker on low until all the fat has been released. I use my ladle to scoop it out as it is rendering, straining it through a small metal sieve directly into a glass jar.
The second method for rendering lard is called the “wet method.” Place your pork fat in a pot with some water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until the fat has melted into the water. Let cool and skim off the lard.
Wet rendered lard will have a more neutral flavor, while dry rendered lard will have a golden tinge and have a slightly cooked flavor.
When I have a lot of fat to render I will use my countertop roaster. Once all the fat has been released and bottled, I water-bath process the jars for fifteen minutes to seal. These jars then get stored in the cold room for future use. I have opened a jar of lard that is over a year old to find it is just like the day it was made.
Lard is very stable. Lard doesn’t go rancid very quickly. It is the preferred fat for frying as it has a higher smoke point.
Lard has been a major food source in many traditional diets for centuries. It has only relatively recently fallen out of favor because of high pressure lobbying from vegetable oil manufacturers.
Lard shines when used to make fluffy pastries. It makes the most amazing tasting french-fries.
Scrambled eggs are absolutely delicious when made with bacon drippings.
Instead of adding chopped bacon to your veggies, save the drippings from frying your bacon. Then mix this with a variety of veggies and slow roast them on 250F for 45 minutes.
You can also use leftover bacon drippings to baste a roast with. Simply make a mixture of bacon drippings, herbs and lemon zest.
We use a stove top popper. We add about a tablespoon of lard plus a half cup of popcorn for each batch we pop up.
We also use lard or bacon drippings as an ingredient in a warm vinaigrette dressing on spinach salad.
The ultimate potato salad can be created by roasting the potato pieces in bacon drippings. The potatoes will become all crispy and bacon flavored. Then add your regular dressing to the salad.
It is very important to make lard from an all-natural, pasture-raised pig. You want to choose a farmer who does not feed antibiotics, genetically modified grains or dewormers. All these products can be stored in an animal’s fat in a concentrated form. I personally, do not want to ingest these products and certainly do not want my children to be exposed to them.
As a little side note, lard contains about 40% saturated fat, 50% monounsaturated fat and 12% polyunsaturated fat. Lard contains no transfats. Lard from a pasture-raised pig can contain up to 1,000IU of vitamin D per tablespoon.
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