How to Make Lard

  in Blog

Lard, or rendered pork fat, is a delicious, versatile fat that’s perfect for high heat cooking and making biscuits and pie crust. It’s also very convenient because it’s shelf stable and solid at room temperature. Although you can purchase lard ready-made, it’s cheaper to make it yourself.

But first, a note about lard’s reputation…lard, along with butter, beef tallow, and duck fat, (i.e. saturated fat) has had a bad rap for decades, being accused of causing heart disease and other health issues. For years the conventional dietary advice has been to avoid animal fats and stick with vegetable oils, especially hydrogenated oils such as margarine and shortening (i.e. trans fats).

Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils were invented in the early 1900s by Proctor and Gamble as a way to profit from an excess of cotton seed oil, which wasn’t considered food at the time. P&G hydrogenated the cotton seed oil, called it ‘shortening’, and started selling it in 1911 as Crisco (crystallized cottonseed oil.) It looked like lard and was marketed as an inexpensive and healthier alternative to lard. It wasn’t until decades later that the FDA moved to eliminate trans fats from the food supply because most scientific research showed that even trace amounts are harmful to health. Even though we understand better now the fallacy of demonizing animal fats and promoting unhealthy hydrogenated fats, lard still carries a negative connotation for many people. We are here to debunk the myth that lard is unhealthy, but rather an ideal, neutral fat for cooking and baking. Our ancestors cooked with lard for generations. It’s time to bury the lard stigma.

Here is how to make your own lard

You can make lard on the stovetop, in a slow cooker, or in the oven. We made a batch of lard on the stovetop. You don’t need any special equipment, but some cheesecloth and a sieve come in handy. Note: use fat from a pasture-raised pig and avoid fat from a commercially raised (CAFO) pig. Oryana sells pig fat or you can get it from local farms.

Keep the package of fat chilled or even frozen until ready to render. Unwrap the fat and cut it up into small pieces, the smaller the better as this will help it melt/render more quickly. (You might have to let it thaw for a bit if it’s too hard.) Half inch pieces would be good but larger is fine. Place in a heavy pot or dutch oven and turn heat on to low. Do not cover. The rendering may take a couple hours. Give it a stir once in awhile to make sure fat pieces aren’t sticking to the bottom of the pot. There will be small pieces of meat (cracklings) and some fat pieces that won’t melt completely.

After most of the fat has rendered and the cracklings are light brown, pour liquid fat into a bowl through a cheese cloth-lined fine sieve. Save the cracklings.* Then pour the fat into clean jars using a canning funnel if you have one, and allow to cool and harden at room temperature before sealing the jars. The jars can be stored at room temperature for about 6 months. We like to refrigerate ours to make it last a year or more. You can also freeze lard.

*Enjoy the cracklings as a snack.

Recipes that use lard:

Lard Pie Crust
Swiss Chard Bacon Quiche
Zucchini Corn Ricotta Fritters
Beef Pot Roast for Two