How to Render Lard

Reader Contribution by Karen Keb
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Since reading Nina Planck’s Real Food, I’ve been a 100% convert to “real” fats. No more so-called “healthy” canola oil, sunflower oil, soybean oil or safflower oil. Planck documents that these oils are relatively new industrial creations, and are the real cause of obesity, heart disease and all the other modern diseases we Americans have been plagued with since switching to an industrial diet in the 20th century. These oils are present in just about every processed food on grocery store shelves.  

As it turns out, there are all sorts of things our bodies need in traditional fats like lard, beef tallow, and butter, and Planck gives us the research, the science, and the dissenting views in her book. Most disturbing is how margarine is made and what’s in it–metal particles, rancid vegetable oil, soaplike emulsifiers, and bleach. I’ll stick to sweet cream and salt, thanks, which are the only ingredients in real butter. I’ll never touch margarine again (more cleverly disguised as “buttery spread” and similar), and living in the Midwest, that’s not an easy thing to do if one dines out … ever.

So, I’ve begun to render lard from the kidney fat from our own Mulefoot hogs, which comes back from our processor all chopped up in a big bag and ready to go, so I don’t have to mess around with a food processor. Here’s the simplest way to do it:

1. Preheat the oven to 225 degrees F.

2. Fill a large roasting pan with the chopped fat.

3. Roast slowly for 30 minutes to 1 hour until the fat has melted and you have protein particles floating on top.

4. Skim off the solid particles and set them aside for the chickens.

5. Pour the liquid fat through a mesh colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth.  

6. Store in a glass canning jar in the refrigerator or freezer. It will keep for months.

Use the lard in place of oil when frying, in pastry like pie crusts, and sauteeing vegetables or roasting potatoes. You’ll be delighted with the texture and flavor (or lack of pork flavor) that real lard–not the hydrogenated kind sold on supermarket shelves–provides.  

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