Well – I’ve been wanting to share our method for making lard… and it just so happens to be Farmer Ian’s 40th birthday in 2 weeks – it just ties it all together so nicely, doesn’t it?
We use lard to fry eggs, grease bread pans & casseroles, saute onions and starting soups, as well as oven-roasting veggies (plus it is great for pie crusts!). It lasts for a very long time in the refrigerator and you can even freeze it for longer storage. Plus, it is an excellent healthy fat! LARD – HEALTHY!?! Check out this article from the Washington Post. AND it is economical – our range raise pork fat costs only $3/lb. 5 pounds of pork fat yields approximately a half gallon of lard!
Making lard is simple – you will need to plan for about 4 hours (to stir and strain off and on, it’s not a constant monitoring).
First: Dump the frozen (ground or chopped) pork fat into a large pot. Add about an inch of water (to prevent burning). Place on stove over high heat and top with lid. Within an hour, the pork fat will have defrosted and begin breaking down showing a cloudy liquid (lard!).
Second: Allow to simmer/bubble on low heat, stirring occasionally.
Once the pork fat has cooked thoroughly (the pink is gone) you can begin straining off lard. I like to use a wire mesh strainer. You can use a larger holed strainer with the addition of cheese cloth, but it is so much easier (in my opinion) to clean up one strainer and not have to keep up with cheesecloth.
Return the pork fat back to the pot and simmer, stirring occasionally. The fat continues to break down – making more lard! In the meantime, pour the strained lard into whatever containers you would like to store them in (I prefer wide-mouth, quart sized jars).
Simply repeat the straining process until the pork fat becomes lightly browned – also known as “cracklins”!
I like to take the cracklins and spread them on a cookie sheet/tray and crisp them up in the oven. Set it for 300F and bake for about an hour or once crunchy. These store well in the fridge and we like to add them to salads (like croutons!). Be sure to allow the lard to cool before refrigerating. You can see in the image below which jars of lard were poured off first – the lighter jars are cooled to room temperature.
There you have it! Making lard is truly an easy experience and the reward of having made an excellent cooking fat for you and your family are worth all the effort!