5 reasons you should never use lard.

Everyone knows that lard is bad for you. I mean come on, it is literally fat! Lard is high in cholesterol and saturated fat. There aren’t any good reasons you should be using it and about a million reasons why you shouldn’t. Here are the top 5 reasons you shouldn’t use lard:

Reason Number 1

Just kidding! Lard is totally awesome. In this post I will explain what lard is, why you should be using it, some ways to use it, how to make it, and where to buy it. Bear with me here, this could get a little long, but I will do my best to keep it as interesting as a blog about melted pig fat can be!

What is lard?

Well, simply put, lard is just fat from a pig. There are a few different types of lard that vary in quality as well as quantity on a pig. The highest quality lard is know as “leaf lard” and it is found in the abdomen of the pig around the kidneys. Leaf lard does not have much of a pork taste and has a high smoke point which make it quite desirable for cooking and baking. The next type of lard is called “fatback” this is a lower quality of lard that is harder than leaf lard and has more of a pork flavor. My favorite use for fatback lard is mixing it in with venison to make burger and sausage. The last type of lard on a pig is called “Cull fat” it is a low quality fat webbing that basically holds all the pigs guts. The cull fat is sometimes used to wrap organ meat to cook in. Leaf lard, which is what this post is primarily focused on, is typically rendered prior to use. Rendering is basically just heating the fat up until it reaches a liquid form then letting it cool and solidify. Once it solidifies it has a similar consistency as butter that has been sitting out on the counter.

Step 1

If you have your pig processed at a butcher shop you have to make sure to ask them to save you the lard. It will surely be frozen when you pick it up so let it sit out for a while to soften. Start by cutting the lard into chunks. As you cut the first couple you will notice that there is a wax paper like layer of connective tissue on one side of the lard, you can peel this off if you’d like but you don’t have to, it will float to the top of the pot and you can strain it out.

What do you use lard for?

Traditionally lard has quite a few uses, including lubrication, soap, fuel for heating, hand moisturizer, suet for bird feed , and treating wood or leather. We don’t really use it for those things, we just cook with it. Lard makes a really good cooking oil because it has a high smoke point of 350-425 degrees. That means you can cook at high temperatures without filling your kitchen with smoke or releasing a bunch of cancer-causing free radicals from the oil. Now I have only made a pie crust once in my life so I am certainly no expert, but according to the guy who makes the best pie crust I’ve ever had in my life, lard is the secret ingredient. I don’t recommend it but you could also use the lard as an all natural beard balm and you would have every stray dog in the neighborhood following you home!

Step 2

Render the lard. For this step, you will need a heat source and a pot. Simply put your pot over your heat source and dump in your chunks of lard and wait. I highly recommend you do this step outside! Rendering lard will make your whole house smell like a bag of pork rinds. I used a turkey fryer and it worked pretty well. Whatever you use to render the fat, make sure you have good control of the heat. You want the lard to get hot enough to become liquid and kill any bacteria that might be on/in it, but you don’t want to scorch the lard or cause it to smoke. As the chunks of fat start to shrivel up you can scoop them out with a metal wire scoop. Continue to add the remaining pieces of fat until there is none left.

Wait, I thought lard is bad for you?

Well, you thought wrong, sort of. Lard is pure fat so obviously it is high in calories but many of the negative health effects associated with animals fats have been largely over stated. To say whether lard is healthy or not is a bit subjective and also relies on a few factors like what kind you are using, how much you are using, and what you are using lard instead of. For instance, Crisco or similar vegetable shortening, to increase shelf life, is made using a process called hydrogenation which, as the name suggests, means to treat with hydrogen. I know what you are thinking, Hydrogen is just the H in H2O, right? Can’t be that bad, right? Wrong! Well, I mean it is that bad, not that it isn’t the H in H2O. You would never guess I got a D in chemistry would you? Anyway, without getting super technical about how it all works, hydrogenation basically takes saturated fat and turns it into trans fat. I don’t want to sound overly dramatic here but this point can’t be overstated, TRANS FAT IS KILLING YOU! Trans fat increases your risk of heart disease(the number one cause of death for Americans), stroke, type 2 diabetes, it also raises your bad cholesterol, lowers you good cholesterol. Fellas, I don’t want to alarm you here but high cholesterol is a major contributing factor of erectile dysfunction. Here is the problem, hydrogenated oil is in all kinds of foods. Basically if you bought food that was fried or baked, you are eating it. According to doctors at the Mayo Clinic, trans fat has no nutritional value and should be avoided completely. Now, I am not saying you should start eating lard by the spoonful, and I am certainly not saying lard is the only option out there, I am merely suggesting that unless you want to suffer from erectile dysfunction until you heart disease gets so bad you die of a heart attack, you should consider replacing hydrogenated oil with lard.

Step 3

By now you should have a pot full of completely liquid lard with a bunch of shriveled up crusty looking pork rinds floating on top. You can try to eat those if you want but I suggest you throw them right in the trash, pork rinds are like 99 cents at the gas station! Now that you got rid of those you should basically have a big pot of cooking oil. Turn the heat off and let it cool for a while. You have plenty of time before the liquid will solidify, so no need to rush into the next step.

Where should you buy lard?

You have a few options when it comes to buying lard, I will list them in order from worst to best. The first, and probably easiest choice would be from your local grocery store. Unfortunately, the lard they will carry is most likely a mass produced product and has been hydrogenated. If you can find lard that isn’t hydrogenated at your grocery store, by all means, buy it! Second best option would be going to one of those fancy grocery stores that sells kale wraps and free-range, cage-free, organic almond milk. If you choose to get your lard this way, expect to pay a whole arm, or approximately half a leg, depending on your height. Also, be sure to check to see if the lard they are selling has been hydrogenated. If you are an Amazon shopper, you can get 14 oz. of pure leaf lard delivered directly to your door simply by clicking right HERE. If you are feeling ambitious and have some spare time, you could always head down to your local butcher and ask for some leaf lard and process it yourself. If you decide to go that route make sure you specify that you want leaf lard and not fatback. If you get fat back your lard will still be suitable to use as a cooking oil but will not be as desirable for baking. By far the best way you can get your hands on some high-quality leaf lard from farm-raised, heritage breed pigs is to buy it directly from Whiskey Creek Farm. Details on how to purchase will be at the end of this post.

Step 4

Before putting your lard in its final container you should filter it. Filtering will get rid of any small pieces of charred fat, skin, meat, or anything else that might be floating in the liquid lard. Unfortunately, this is the worst part of this process, I am still working out the best way to do it. Before I render lard next year I am going to try to rig up a spigot on the bottom of the pot with an inline filter in a hose so I can just open it up and fill the jars as I go. Until I get a better setup, this is a painstakingly slow process. I take compostable coffee filters and shove them in the mouth of the mason jars, securing them with a rubber band. Then I take a metal ladle and start scooping the liquid lard into the jars. As the filters begin to get clogged the flow of lard will obviously slow down dramatically. You can either just be patient or you can swap out the filters when they start to clog. If you are going to swap out the filters you should be prepared for a mess. Once all of your jars are filled you are pretty much done. Put the lids on them and let them cool.

Making a Tasty Treat for Birds

With the little bit of lard I had left at the bottom of the pot when I was done, I decided I would make a little treat for the birds. I poured the lard out onto a large cookie sheet and let it cool for a bit. Before it had fully solidified I started mixing in bird seed. You will want to mix in about a cup at a time and only add as much as the lard can thoroughly saturate. Once you have added enough seed you just mix it up and begin to shape it into a ball as it hardens. I used some parchment paper to do this so I didn’t end up with a mess. You could put your suet ball in some kind of netting to hang for the birds but I will probably just go put it in a tree branch in the woods. I only have so much time and I already spent enough making them this little treat!

Step 5

Clean up. This part sucks. Everything you have used up to this point will be covered in lard. You will want to try to avoid just washing it all down your drain unless you like supporting your local plumber. Try to scrape as much of it as you can into the garbage before you put any of the dishes in the sink. There really is no way to avoid it, some of this lard is going to make it down your drain. I recommend running the hot water for a while after you are done and using plenty of dish soap.

Psst… You wanna buy some lard?

We have eleven 1.5 pound jars of filtered leaf lard for sale for $25 each. That is less than $17 per pound compared to the $28.50 per pound from Amazon. If you would like a jar, send an email to whiskeycreekfarmdl@gmail.com and we can work out the details.

Ok, I’m done!

I’d say that is probably enough about lard for the day! As always, I appreciate you stopping by to read about what we have going on here at Whiskey Creek Farm! If spring ever decides to show up we will have lots of exciting things happening, so stay tuned!


12 thoughts on “5 reasons you should never use lard.”

  1. Very informative that is way more than I ever would have thought of about lard thank you for the information. Keep the post coming.

  2. Great Post. Fine writing.
    My mother was a farm girl so she always cooked with lard. Great cook and baker. My dad would butcher pigs so we would have head cheese and blood sausage too! My dad was a city boy so the family moved on from the Golden Valley farm to the city in Robbinsdale in the ’40s where they had electricity and water!

    1. That must be where my desire to get out of the city and start farming came from! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Did you know that if the pigs are raised so they can be outside in the sunshine the fat will also contain Vitamin D? Another great reason to use pastured pig lard.

    1. I didn’t know that! This lard certainly has vitamin D in it then, our pigs get plenty of sun. Thanks for the info!

    1. I find it so interesting how self sufficient people used to be. Maybe we will have to add making soap to our list!

  4. Great article! Thanks for taking the time to write this up.
    One question I have is how long the lard will keep?

    1. Thank you! If stored in the refrigerator lard should last you at least six months. The jar I am using right now has been in our fridge for over a year and it is still good.

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