In this day and age, it seems that people (including the experts) are confused as to what is a healthy fat. While coconut oil and olive oil are considered healthy, my ancestors would not have had them to choose from. It was fats such as Lard, butter, or other animal fats that were readily available. These days, sustainable pork fat is easy to get ahold of and make.
Unfortunately, today you have to be careful about store bought lard as it can contain trans fats and other undesirable ingredients making a healthy fat, unhealthy which adds to all the confusion.
Some of the Praises of Lard- It's economical and you can support your local, sustainable farmer. Lard is heat stable and has a neutral flavor making it great for flaky pie crusts, frying, baking, and sautéing vegetables. It's good for your heart and a good source of cholesterol. Lard has the highest vitamin D, second only to cod liver oil. (Note: in order for lard to be high in vitamin D and healthy for you, the pigs need to be raised outside and as close to nature as possible with the ultimate pork being pastured and organic)
Seventeen years ago while pregnant with my oldest, I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. Thankfully, I was able to control my diabetes with diet, but I realized that I had to learn more to prevent diabetes, since diabetes runs on both sides of my family.
While looking for more information, I came across the ideas of following traditional/ancestral diets, meaning definitely no processed food or soy and limited sugar. It made sense to me, so I started transforming our family's lifestyle.
I didn’t change all at once since that would have been too much for my kids and husband!
I first started by switching to healthy fats making Lard my main go to fat to be used for almost everything, especially since it is safe at high temps. It is also one of the cheapest and easiest fats to make.
After the switch, we slowly noticed little improvements about our health. I had dry skin all the time and used quite a bit of skin cream. That condition went away, and I haven’t had a bottle in my house for a decade or more, that alone makes organic/sustainably raised pork fat worth it!
My husband, Eric, used to get deep, painful cracks on his hands and the back of his heels, especially in the cold, dry winter. Lotions did not help. He no longer has that problem anymore. Again, being pain free is well worth the investment in lard.
There are many different ways of making lard from being cooked in the oven or using slow cookers. You can do it all at once or a small batch at a time.
My friend makes her Lard in a slow cooker or Instant pot.
I prefer to do a batch at a time in the oven which works great for me. I wish everything was as easy to make as lard!
Don’t be afraid to try different ways to make lard and find what works best for you.
How to make Lard:
What you will need:
1-2 5 lb. package of Pork & Plants ground fat
Large roasting pan
Cheese cloth to pour the lard through
Strainer to catch all the cracklings
Jars to store the finished lard
Put lard in roasting pan and place into the oven uncovered. Stir occasionally to break up the fat.
Set the oven between 300 degrees to 350 degrees for around 2 hours (I put it on 300 degrees if I need to do chores outside, you never know how long that will take, and 350 degrees if I am working in the house and want to speed the process up; however, I think 300 degrees makes the best lard.)
When the cracklings turn golden brown and has a nice amount of bubbles on top, the lard is done. Take out and let cool.
Strain with a strainer and cheese cloth. (I stopped using the cheese cloth because the little bits of cracklings that make it through don’t matter to my family, and they settle to the bottom of the jars anyway)
Crackling on top, lard in pot. Lard is golden color while warm and beautiful white when cool.
Use Lard liberally for sautéing your vegetables and eggs.
Lard also is great for frying donuts, and making the flakiest pie crusts. In fact, our son, Daniel, won the pie contest at Lard Fest this year for his flaky crust.
Cracklings are great with salt sprinkled on top as a snack. Laura's mother, in Little House in the Big Woods, put them in cornbread. Chickens like them too.
So, make some lard and soon your family will be Praising the Lard too.