When we think about pigs, we think about hams and bacon, sausage and pork chops, but there’s much more! One of the most valuable products that my kitchen gains from our pigs is home-made lard.
The fat received from the butcher needs to be processed or “rendered” to make lard. There are two different kinds of fat taken from the pigs: “fatback”, which is fat taken from the pig’s back, and “leaf fat”, which is the internal fat found around the organs of the animal. Both of these are different from the fat from the pig’s belly, which is used to make pork belly or bacon.
I use lard from our pigs for making pie crusts, biscuits, breads and to grease pans for baking and frying. Lard is a staple supply in the kitchen, which I use every day. Lard sells for as much as $50 per quart (!), but you can make a quart of lard following the instructions below, with 2 or 3 lbs. of pig fat.
Step One: Cut fat into small pieces.
Cut the fat into pea-sized pieces to prepare them for heating. If there are any large pieces of meat, cut them off, cook them up and serve them to the dogs. Meat should be kept out from the lard rendering as far as possible. Small bits of meat are OK.
Step Two: Cook the fat on low heat.
Place the cut pieces of fat into a heavy-bottom pan and stir the fat continually so that the fat does not burn and that all is heated evenly.
Step Three: Strain the liquid into a jar.
As the fat breaks down, strain off the liquid into a jar using cheesecloth or another fine strainer.
Step Four: Let liquid cool.
The liquid strained off as the fat cooks will cool to form your lard. When hot, it will be brown or yellow, but as it cools, it will turn white and creamy. This is your home-made lard! It is recommended to keep your lard refrigerated.
Step Five: Fry up the “cracklings”.
After all of the liquid has been strained off to make our lard, you will be left with some fatty meat that provides a treat. Fry up the small pieces of fat that remain and serve them as a treat for the children, or add them on top of a salad from some extra flavor.
If you’d like to make your own lard, you can purchase fat here on the farm. If you have any questions about lard-making, please feel free to ask.
Michael Family Farm