How to: Render Lard

Rendering lard at home is easier than most people realize. When properly rendered, at a low temperature, your lard should be snowy white and nearly odorless making it ideal for all types of cooking.

  1. Get out your fat!  I prefer to have the butcher grind the fat for me so that its ready to go when I get it home.  If you buy lard from us, it will be ground. If the fat is in large pieces it’s no biggie though – Just trim off any large chunks of meat or blood and then cut into ½” cubes.
  2. Set it on the counter and forget it for a while…  I keep my fat frozen until I’m ready to render so I often take it out of the freezer the night before and let it thaw.  It’s not important that it be completely thawed but it render more evenly if it is.
  3. Set your oven or crockpot to low and go do something else.  Set your oven to 200 – 250 degrees or your crockpot to low. Check back every half hour or so and give it a stir.  Allow 2 to 3 hours for partially frozen fat to liquefy.  A little less time if completely thawed and a little more if completely frozen.  Low and slow is the key – cooking at higher temperatures can cause scorching, which gives the fat a yellow color and a burned smell.  
  4. Strain out the solids (cracklings).  Place a double layer of cheesecloth inside a metal strainer or colander and place over a larger container that will collect the pure fat (not plastic as it may melt!).  Ladle hot fat into the cheesecloth/strainer to separate from the solids.
  5. Repeat if desired.  One pass through the cheesecloth should be adequate but if you would like your fat to be extra pure a second straining can be done.
  6. Store & Cool.  The pure fat can now be ladled into clean mason jars or other storage containers and left to cool.  Once cooled the fat can either be refrigerated or frozen until you’re ready to use it.
  7. Eat the cracklings?!?  Cracklings (the meaty chunks you just strained out of the fat) can be salted and cooked over medium heat in a fry pan until crispy.  Some people really like them and some don’t – your choice! I feed most of mine to the chickens and they love them!

Interested in purchasing lard to render at home? CONTACT US

Pork & Potato Stew

This is one of my favorite stew recipes. I made this recipe yesterday and the house smelled great all day while the broth was simmering. A fresh pork hock (also known as a ham hock) is perfect for soups and stews and deserves more credit than its given. This cut is from the leg area directly below the ham and has a large bone and good quantity of meat. After simmering in the broth the meat is tender and easily pulls apart. A hock can be used in a recipe that calls for a ham bone – want the smokey cured flavor? Just add a few of slices of bacon!

Interested in purchasing a hock or two? CLICK HERE to see what we currently have in stock or CONTACT US

 

Baking Old Cookie Recipe With Lard

The following  was sent to me by my friend, Elda Stone.  She is new to lard and I was happy to share a jar of leaf lard with her so she could experiment with an old family recipe.  I don’t pretend to be a writer but she is a great one and I’m thrilled that she was willing to take the time to record her thoughts so I could share them here.

Baking Old Cookie Recipe With Lard

By Elda Stone

12/18/2018

My sister Rita and I recently resurrected a cookie recipe that we remembered from childhood. We know it as “Grossmutter’s Butterzeug.”

These cut-out sugar cookies, spiced with cinnamon and cloves, were not my favorite as a kid. They were simple and plain, with no frosting. What, no frosting? But I still remember the distinctive taste, the thinness, and the crisp snap.

Grossmutter is what my dad and his sister called their grandmother Babette Gehbauer Helmreich (1863-1948). Babette came over from Germany just before the start of World War I, joining her daughters who immigrated a decade earlier as teenagers. We never knew Babette, but our aunt and grandma made these cookies every year at Christmas.

Butterzeug calls for butter, of course. Google roughly translates “zeug” (pronounced “zoig”) as “stuff” or “material.” Our handwritten recipe card, recorded by Rita years ago while Grandma made the cookies, calls for a pound of butter or “half butter, half lard.”

Lard – yuck. I had never tried baking with it.

Rita and I made a half-batch of the original recipe over Thanksgiving, using all butter. (A full batch must make a massive amount of cookies!)

Even after chilling, the dough was miserably soft for rolling out and transferring to a baking sheet. It stuck to the mat and rolling pin, falling apart out of the cookie cutters. We managed to bake them, and they tasted reasonably like we remembered our grandma’s cookies, but a little too soft and not as thin.

Having heard my friend Laura of Mossycup Farms talk about the virtues of lard, I wanted to try a “test kitchen” experiment in comparative baking. Laura supplied me with a jar of her home-rendered pork lard, from her organically fed, free-range hogs. It was surprisingly light, fluffy, and brilliantly white.

I again made a small batch of Butterzeug, this time with half butter and half lard. I wrapped two flattened disks of dough in wax paper and chilled them in the fridge overnight.

The next day, the dough was very firm and easy to handle. It took some elbow grease to roll out the chilled disks. I was able to get it thinner than last time, and it still held together. I baked according to directions, same as the all-butter batch.

I had saved a couple cookies from the first batch to compare taste. For ease of handling and texture, the half-butter/half-lard version is better and tastes more like I remember. The cookies are definitely more crisp, possibly because I was able to roll the dough thinner. There’s a shortbread-like crumble to the tongue. This version also browned up a little if I pushed the baking time another minute.

I certainly don’t notice any “porky” flavor from the lard. I’m surprised it resulted in firmer dough and crispier cookies, despite lard’s low melting temperature and light texture.

This article from Prevention magazine sums up the re-evaluation of lard.,  And it sounds much preferable to coconut oil, which has also been touted in recent years. Using half Crisco or other commercial shortening might also make this recipe easier to roll out and cut, but I’m more leery of using a processed product these days.

So that’s my pseudo-scientific study on lard in a cookie recipe! Christmas cookies by any definition are A) only made at Christmas and B) not really supposed to be good for you. It’s more about the taste, texture, and visual delight. Lard delivered the taste of my childhood holidays.

And making this family recipe brings back to life my aunt, my grandma, and my great-grandmother, standing behind me in the kitchen.