Let’s do some free association shall we? Oh come on, it’ll be fun! I say a word and you reply with a word that comes to mind. Okay, here we go:
I say “orange”
You say….. “juice”
I say “soap”
You say…. “water”
Now you’re getting the hang of it!
I say “dog”
You say “cat”
I say “lard”
You say “ass”
Wait, wait. Oh for crying out loud. Let’s try that last one again.
I say “lard”
You say…. No, no don’t say it. Okay, I’ll give you a hint “pig, fat, southern cooking”
Clearly we have some misconceptions when it comes to lard.
Not long ago lard was considered a healthy fat. Many of you may even have recipes handed down from your grandmother which call for “lard.” Then along came the notion that saturated fats cause heart disease, strokes and just about everything that ails you. Shortening and margarine took center stage and only now are scientists taking a closer look at these studies and saying “Oopsy daisy. I think we got it wrong. Saturated fat isn’t what’s killing us”
In the meantime lard has taken a beating, now used as a taunt instead of a word for real food. Fats that have been conjured up in a lab, such as shortening (made from cottonseed oil), have replaced this healthy fat. We thought we’d rid ourselves of heart disease and clogged arteries, but in fact, the incidence has only risen. The CDC now lists heart disease as “the leading cause of death in the United States.” With “one in every three deaths from heart disease or stroke.”
Lard actually has less saturated fat (the bad fat) than butter, while it also has more than twice as much monosaturated fat (the good fat) than butter. And it has none of those pesky trans fats—that is, if it hasn’t been hydrogenated to prolong its shelf life. It is the closest fat we’ve found to human breast milk and when free-range pigs are allowed to feast on tubers, roots, greens, felled nuts, etc. the meat and fat are higher in omega 3’s than salmon oil!
Unfortunately, that white brick of lard that is sitting on your grocery store shelf, has been hydrogenated to make it shelf stable indefinitely, which robs it of its good qualities. This is NOT a healthy fat and deserves the negative “lard ass” connotation. If you want to get all of the wonderful health benefits of lard you’ll have to render it yourself.
Rendering lard is not difficult and it’s not expensive. It is time consuming, and you may have to try it a couple of times to really get it snow-white and odorless. But you can still eat your “mistakes” (I’m still feeding my first batch- in which I used back fat- to my dog. It saves me $ as I usually feed him salmon oil. Plus he loves it!. BTW, he hasn’t gained a pound).
You’ll see in my video that the snow-white lard is what I render first. It is what I’ll use in my pie crusts and baking. Anything that has a brownish tinge and a slight odor will be used to cook eggs or other meats.
If you don’t know where to find leaf lard call around to your local health food, co-op stores, and butchers. Just make sure to use leaf lard that is from pastured pigs, not factory farmed.
I hope you’ll give rendering lard a try. Please let me know if you have any questions as well as any results.
To Your Health!
Some of the resources I used when learning how to render lard: