I recently came into some back fat from one of our pigs. The loin had so much fat on it that Mark trimmed half of it off so the chop would have a balanced amount of meat and fat. I’ve been using a good share of lard lately, so I decided to render it. Last fall we met a lady from Maine, Debra Evans, who introduced me to a different way to render. She puts the well chilled fat through the largest plate on her grinder and then uses a double boiler to render it. The double boiler has the advantage of keeping the fat at the low end of the proper temperature. Temperature is very important in rendering. Too cool and you won’t get the fat out of the lard in this century. Too hot and you can scorch the lard pieces and infuse the protein into the fat, making your lard smell and taste like roasted pork. That’s OK for frying eggs, but makes a blueberry pie taste funky. I’m not convinced that the double boiler is better than my wok/lard pan method, but it is easier to manage in a busy kitchen because if I forget it for a while or have to run to the bank it just keeps on safely doing its thing. For the purposes of a homestead hog harvest situation this is invaluable. Maybe this fall we’ll get both pans going and do a methodology comparison.
How can you use lard?
- Fry eggs.
- Make baked goods. Leaf lard is better for this than back fat, I’m told, but for not-so-discerning palletes, either works well. The consistency of your baked goods is lighter if you mix the lard 50/50 with butter.
- Pop popcorn. Dorothy loves a late night snack. She even uses the greasy cracklin’s, which get nice and crispy while the corn pops in the pan.
- Top dress steamed veggies with some real sea salt and garlic. Anyone will eat those beans or broccoli!
- Mangalitsa lard can be whipped and then used as a spread in place of butter. Add some real salt and herbs and you will be hooked.
- Test your imagination!
Remember: Fat is flavor. Fat is your friend. (Thanks to Brian Polcyn for that mantra!)