Every year, we source a healthy, happy, organically raised free-range pig. We don’t eat pork that often but it does make for a nice change when we do. So, if we’re going to eat it, we source the best quality pork we can find. With our pork, we always request all of the left-over fat. And we render the fat into lard for use in cooking.
Choosing the Best Quality Pork
We choose pork from heritage breed pigs that have been raised on pasture with NO drugs, corn, wheat, or soy. Preferably, pigs that have been fed only organically or, better yet, biodynamically grown foods that have been grown on the same farm the pigs are raised by farmers who truly care about the animals and the quality of their meat.
Choosing the Best Butcher
We also choose a butcher who will cure the ham and bacon without nitrates or chemicals of any kind–many butchers will say that it cannot be done but it was done for hundreds of years before the invention of chemically rendered nitrates. So, we’ve sourced butchers who use only natural additives like sea salt, ascorbic acid, and maple syrup and then smoke the cured meat in a natural wood smokehouse.
Rendering the Lard
Rendering lard is really quite easy, you get a lot of it, and don’t be fooled into thinking it is an unhealthy source of fat. It is actually very healthy–full of nutrients and has a high heat point so it is good for frying.
Rendering the lard is easy. We cut up the fat into cubes and then cook it slowly. We did half in our slowcooker and half in the oven on very low heat. The key is to melt the fat slowly so the slowcooker works well. It takes time and patience–every 20 minutes or so, you need to ladle off the melted fat and pour it into a clean storage jar.
Once all the liquid fat is done, you end up with crackling, which is one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten and a real treat.
The end result should be jars of pure white lard. (Yellow means you cooked it at too high a temperature.)
We store our jars of unopened lard in the freezer. Once we’ve opened a jar, we store it in the fridge. We use the lard for any kind of sautéing and frying.