LARD

Truly free range pigs can produce a lot of fat, which we can render down to make lard.

Animal fats in the western world are still getting too much bad press for being “harmful”  for us. What non of these so-called experts has ever explained is how humans have managed to evolve and survive for so many millions of years eating animal fats. What I can’t understand is how we have become so far removed from our origins that we have never questioned the strange practice of using vegetable oils. Well, maybe I can.  I too got caught up in the “sunflower oil is beautiful and healthy” for us myth. I apologise to my children and clients for all the years of misinformed Non Sense I so confidently espoused. I was wrong. Thank goodness I always remembered that full  fat IS best and encouraged my family to gnaw the bones and eat the pork crackling.

What is good about lard? Make it yourself and you will taste the difference.

It is approximately 40% saturated fats, 50% monounsaturated and 10% polyunstaurated fat. This means that once made, it is best kept in the fridge to stop it from going rancid.

Dividing these fats into more specific groups of fatty acids, it contains about 3% palmitoleic acid, which contains antimicrobial properties, 1% myristic acid, 25% palmitic acid (lung surfactant is rich in palmitic acid),  12% stearic acid, 45% oleic acid, 10% linoleic acid (an omega 6 oil) and less than 1% linolenic acid (omega 3 oil). Lard also contains Vitamin E, fat soluble antioxidants. Providing your lard has come from free range pigs  (not “out-door bred,” they have 3 weeks outside and then are taken indoors to be fattened ) it should also contain vitamin D.

OK, enough of the biology! Here are some photos showing you step by step how to make your own lard 🙂

Pig Fat

Pig Fat

Cut the fat into small pieces.

Cut the fat into small pieces.

Put the chopped fat into a heavy based saucepan. Here I am using a cast iron pot.

Put the chopped fat into a heavy based saucepan. Here I am using a cast iron pot.

Use a low heat to release the oils.

Use a low heat to release the oils.

Cracklings appear.

Cracklings appear.

The oil is too hot to handle, so do take care not to splash any onto yourself.

Line a stainless steel sieve with muslin or a tea towel and carefully drain the oil into a glass jug.

Line a stainless steel sieve with muslin or a tea towel and carefully drain the oil into a glass jug.

The purpose of the cloth is to stop bits of crackling from falling into the lard.

Using a jug with a pouring lip makes life so much easier  and cleabner when it comes to decanting the lard into glass jars.

Using a jug with a pouring lip makes life so much easier and cleaner when it comes to decanting the lard into glass jars.

Note the cracklings on the red saucepan. These are delicious with sea salt sprinkled over them. They make a great snack!

Note the cracklings on the red saucepan. These are delicious with sea salt sprinkled over them. They make a great snack!

I grew up in The Black Country, where real pork scratchings were made from rendered down pig fat. Skin, meat and hair all went into the mix and was so delicious. Now a days, you get rubbishy over puffed skin with artificial chemicals that are neurotoxins (MSG, monosodium glutamate / E621). Do not buy them. Make your own!

Scratchings!

Scratchings!

Hot oil in sealed jars.

Hot oil in sealed jars.

Now the oil has cooled and turned to a beautiful creamy white.

Now the oil has cooled and turned to a beautiful creamy white.

Store your lard in the fridge. This is a fairly soft fat. Home cured bacon fried in home-made lard tastes even better than commercially made lard. To add nutrition, pour the hot lard over the cooked bacon as you serve it. You can, of course, fry just about anything in lard. I also use the lard to add fat content to liver pates.

Keep the scratchings in the fridge. You can add them to cooked vegetables, meats, salads, use as quick “pick me up” when too hungry to wait for a full meal, take out as a snack to munch. Just enjoy! This is a snack that won’t  cause damage to your teeth!!

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