Lard: The Other Cooking Oil

Lard is not something I ever thought I would be using in food, let alone making. But after coming across a  lot of articles talking about how much better it makes baked and fried food, I had to make some.

Thankfully I live in a town where I can ride my bike to a butcher's shop. In Harrisburg we have Farmers' Helper. On top of the close location, they also offer meat from Oregon. I walked in and asked the woman working if they had any pork fat I could make into lard, she looked at me somewhat strangely and then disappeared into the freezer. She returned with a 20 pound bag of pig fat, I was hoping for a pound or two. I asked her how much and was surprised she only wanted two dollars. I didn't any cash on hand, so she said to get it to her next time. 

 After putting some of the larger pieces of pork fat in the stock pot I pulled out my copy of Encyclopedia of Country Living. I realized that I need to cut the fat into strips no more than half and inch wide, in order to get the best 'cracklings'. So I pulled out what wasn't starting to melt and went to work cutting it up. My knife set is pathetic so it made this task somewhat time consuming, but next time I'll be better prepared. 

I started with my stove top about halfway to between simmer and medium. It took about 4 hours before the majority of the fat had been rendered. To strain the lard I put two layers of cheese cloth in a colander, once you reach the bottom of your pot you should add more layers of cheesecloth, otherwise you might not get pure white lard. I used about 10 pounds of pork fat and it filled nearly 8 pint jars. It's supposed to keep for about 3 months without refrigeration in a dark cool place and for a year in the freezer. 

Before Cooling
After Cooling: Pure white

Depending on where you look you'll find differing opinions on whether or not lard is better or worse than other cooking 'oils'. But I do know that if you make lard yourself it's not hydrogenated, so it's better than Crisco. If you don't want to make your own and live around Eugene, message me, I've got some to give away. 

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