Farm Blog

Place Order
Livin' Lardge: rendering pork lard, for health

Posted by: Trevor

December 19, 2011

These days, researchers are telling us that lard from healthy pigs raised outdoors is good for us, saying it's high in vitamins A and D, and mono-unsaturated fats. Some researchers even go so far as to compare it favorably to mother's milk, in terms of its healthy fat content (really). Celebrated chefs are using it, too.

I have to point out that the health benefits of lard do not apply to conventional barn-raised pigs. In order to derive any health benefit from lard, the pigs have to be raised outside, on pasture, and preferably organic. This is very important.

In our household, since we first came to learn about the health benefits of lard, we've been trying to master the skill of rendering.

There are at least two types of lard: the kind that comes from the fat surrounding the kidneys, and the kind that comes from the fat that is under the skin. (There is a third kind, caul fat, to be accurate).

This is leaf fat, taken from the kidney area of the pig. Notice the uniquely shaped long strips of fat.

The kidney fat produces the highest grade of lard (known as leaf lard), and has the least flavor. When rendered, it's very white. Lard that is used in pastries is generally leaf lard.

This is back fat. It comes from beneath the skin of the pig.

The fat from under the skin is known as back fat, and that's the lard we're talking about today. It is less expensive than leaf-fat because there is more of it on a pig.

The process of turning the back fat into rendered lard is an easy one --- all you need to do is heat it up. The back fat will melt, giving you rendered lard.

The simplest method we've found is to use a slow-cooker. Generally we just put the slabs of fat into a slow-cooker, cover it with a lid, set it to about 200 degrees, and let it go for about 24 hours.

Some people add water to the fat during the heating process, as they say it results in a more neutral flavor (less bacon-y taste).

As the back fat is melting, we typically take a fork and, every few hours, mash up the remaining bits of fat, breaking up the tissue a little.

After several hours, the only thing remaining in the slow-cooker is melted fat (lard), and bits of meat or collagen (from the skin). These are known as cracklings, and (like pork rinds) are tasty to eat and loaded with healthy fat.

You can speed up the process by cutting the back fat into tiny pieces before you put it in the slow-cooker. If you have a meat grinder, you can run the back fat through the grinder before putting it all into the slow-cooker --- this would be the fastest method and would result in an abundance of tiny cracklings. If tiny cracklings are what you're after, then cut (or grind) the back fat into small pieces before you slow-cook it. Grinding the back fat before you slow-cook it will give you more rendered lard at the end of the process.

If you don't have a slow-cooker, then use the stove-top or the oven, either will work, on low heat.

Once the fat is rendered into lard, we let it cool a little (it's rather dangerous when it's hot due to the possibility of splashing on your skin), and then pour it through a fine strainer into glass jars, which we then put lids on and refrigerate.

Some people would add cool water to the lard, leaving it overnight in the refrigerator, which will clarify the lard somewhat, and then lift the solid lard up out of the water, dry it off and cut it into pieces. This is what you'd do if you wanted a more perfect result.

Now, if you want more pork-flavor in the lard (which you very well may, depending on what type of cooking or frying you intend to do with it), you can put the back fat into a pot on the stove-top, and heat it up for a few hours, then turn off the stove. Next day, do the same. Next day, and next day, and so on. The result is a darker colored lard, with more of a pork odor and a bacon-y flavor.

The darker lard has been heated/re-heated several times on the stove top.
The lighter lard was rendered in 24 hours in a slow-cooker.

We keep a jar of lard in the refrigerator and use it for frying things like sausages and eggs. Anything that needs frying. You can also spread it on bread, or (one of my favorites) is to fry some organic healthy bread in a pan with plenty of lard and then, once the bread is nicely browned, put it on a plate and pour maple syrup over it (we make our own maple syrup here on the farm). Tasty and healthy, at least we think so.

The many uses of healthy lard are practically endless, which is why many of our ancestors kept it on-hand at all times. In today's culture, after hearing for so long that fat is unhealthy, it takes a bit of courage and resolve to bring lard back into the kitchen. But, for our family, lard from healthy pigs is a nutritious and pleasant addition to our daily meals.

Other Farm Blog Posts

November 7, 2020How to Get Enough Vitamin K2 In Your Diet
October 3, 2020The Secret to Optimizing Collagen Synthesis in Your Body
July 18, 2020Here is an Easy Way to Improve Your Sleep
July 4, 2020Do We Become What We Eat? Please Consider This
June 14, 2020A Delicious Way To Increase Your Selenium Intake
June 6, 2020Three Great Natural Sources of Vitamin D
May 31, 2020Nourishing Your Body with Natural Choline
February 15, 2019Is Organic Healthier? Study Shows Remarkable Benefits
January 27, 2018A Delicious Way To Boost Your Polyphenol Intake
September 11, 2017Better Than Garlic Butter, Whipped Lard Is So Good
March 17, 2016Chicken Bone Broth - A Healthy Start to Your Day
March 7, 2016Making Ultra-Nutritious Beef Back Ribs
February 25, 2016How To Make Super Healthy Pork Rinds
February 16, 2016A Delicious And Easy Way To Boost Your CoQ10 Intake
February 9, 2016How To Get Your Daily Dose Of Vitamin D From Pork
August 28, 2015Air-Chilled Chicken: 4 Reasons It's Better
March 19, 2015This Orphan Lamb Is Too Cute!
March 12, 2015These Fascinating Meat-Sheep Are New Additions To Our Farm
September 9, 2014These Pigs Are Having A Picnic In The Forest, Watch Them Having Fun
July 11, 2014Why Happy Cows Love Rotational Grazing... Watch As They Get Moved
June 18, 2014Watch As These Happy Chickens Enjoy Life, On The Grass And In The Sun
June 15, 2014She Went Vegan To Cure Her IBS
June 4, 2014Just Born: New Piglets, And They're Absolutely Adorable
May 20, 2014Alpaca's Getting Haircuts, Just In Time For Summer
May 11, 2014Baby Calves Galore, Momma Cow Has Twins
May 1, 2014Pigs On Spring Pasture At Sumas Mountain Farms
April 24, 2014Could West Coast Maple Syrup Be A Nutrient-Dense Superfood?
April 23, 2014How To Make Your Own West Coast Maple Syrup
April 18, 2014Watch Out For Local Suppliers Selling Fake Organic Food
April 16, 2014How to enjoy the benefits of wild Oregon grapes and thimbleberries
April 11, 2014A Traditional Festive Roasted Ham, With The Bone-In
April 2, 2014The astonishing super-nutrition of red marrow beef bones
December 10, 2013A Christmas Pig's Head Feast
November 20, 2013Buying your chicken in the US? It could be imported from China
November 14, 2013Rethinking seafood: 4 alarming reasons why it may be unhealthy
October 15, 2013Thanksgiving at Sumas Mountain Farms
September 17, 2013Lard: the momentum just keeps growing
August 21, 2013Another big health reason to buy organic, grass-only beef
July 25, 2013How to avoid dangerous fluoride levels in non-organic food
July 18, 2013Why grass-only beef has yellow fat, and why it's better
July 9, 2013Shill scientists still bashing organic
May 6, 2013Organic mixed farms vs. conventional monocultures
April 19, 2013Why buying locally produced food isn't enough
April 1, 2013More reasons to love, experience lard
March 25, 2013Dandelion chickens on spring pasture
March 19, 2013Bees and bugs: pollinators in action on our farm
October 30, 2012Small-scale family farms under attack by local governments
October 10, 2012CKNW news "The Bill Good Show" interviews Sumas Mountain Farms
October 8, 2012CBC television news visits Sumas Mountain Farms
October 3, 2012Why organic, local, small scale agriculture is healthier & safer
August 8, 2012Reflections on Lard - and vitamins A, D, E & K
June 27, 20126 reasons why pastured pigs are healthier and happier
June 25, 2012The best meatballs I've ever had
June 20, 2012Why organic farms are the best way to increase "green space"
June 18, 2012This tastes so good: Bacon-stuffed Pork Chops
June 11, 2012Cows on spring pasture
June 4, 2012Making parks more useful --- food security 101
May 29, 2012Reconstructing local food economies
May 22, 2012Why our eggs are totally soy-free
April 30, 2012A cow's life at Sumas Mountain Farms
April 24, 2012New Rideshare service allows customers to "carpool" their orders
April 21, 2012Now in stock: certified organic grass-only beef
April 18, 2012Reprieve: no GMO pigs in the food supply... for now
April 12, 2012Is food really too cheap?
March 21, 2012Easter hams are now in stock; more beef in 4 weeks
March 12, 2012Pork tenderloin is now back in stock: soy-free, certified organic, pastured, heritage breed
March 5, 2012Save the bees: What we're doing this summer
February 27, 2012Producing and preparing your own food
February 20, 2012Bee wars: the next frontier in global food dominance
February 13, 2012False organic claims: How some local food-suppliers are misleading consumers...
February 6, 2012The best way to avoid eating Roundup
January 30, 2012Tapping big-leaf maple trees for sap
January 23, 2012Snowing on the farm
January 16, 2012What buying local food in the Lower Mainland actually looks like
January 9, 2012Pig's head: a healthy, traditional food
January 2, 2012Why local, organic food is important to our family
December 26, 2011Lard, Raw Milk, and Organ Meat: a formula for optimal health?
December 9, 2011Organic pastured pork is now in-stock... and it's soy-free
December 6, 2011Maple Sap as an alternative to bottled water
December 1, 2011Soil: the wealth of nations