Lard Help Me
14 Feb 2008

This has to be one of the weirdest posts to transition to after last week's post on vegan coconut fudge. I briefly mentioned in that post that I was in the process of doing something that would probably send most vegans running to the loo, or at least getting that nails on a chalkboard shiver down their spine. So, I do apologize to those non meat eaters out there who have come to read me for me veg-friendly recipes. This week, it's probably best for you to look away and come back later. Because, you see, I've had it in my head to make my own lard for quite a while now, and after a trip to the Wooly Pigs stall at the University Farmer's Market, I found myself coming home with a 10lb bag of pork fat. It was time to render.

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Of course, I really had no idea what I was doing, despite the fact that I had assured them at the booth that I did indeed know how to render lard. "Who doesn't?" I might have joked. Well, me for starters. Luckily, I had resources. I've been reading Matthew's posts on lard now for quite some time, and I knew if I got myself into too much trouble, I could always give him a quick shout. There is also a great photo tutorial on rendering lard on Obsession with Food which helped considerably. So after a little while of staring down the intimidating looking bag, I dove in and started rendering following a kind of combination between the two different methods... I cubed rather than processed the lard, added a touch of water, and started it on the stove top. It was going, but quite slowly. Eventually, I decided to move it to a 250F oven, as Matthew suggests, and it started making more steady progress, eventually leaving me with about 4 or 5 quarts of fat with lots of cracklings.
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Once the lard was rendered, I had to figure out how to store it. I thought about jars, which seems to be the common choice. But after one quick disaster (do not try to pour hot lard into a jar, unless you like cleaning up a quart of liquid lard running all over and down your stove. Let's just say my floors got an extra waxing), and realizing how much storage I was going to need in my freezer to hold all the lard and all those jars, I decided there might be a better way. What I really wanted were some pre-measured sticks of lard... something I could easily grab, cut up into little cubes for pastry, like I would a stick of butter. I needed to make sticks of lard.
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This turns out to be pretty easy to do. Just line a deep baking dish with plastic wrap, and pour the liquid (but not hot) lard into the dish so that it is about an inch or so thick. Cover with more plastic wrap and chill until it is solid. Then, use a spatula to carefully remove the lard from the tray onto a cutting board and cut out stick of butter sized pieces. I cut mine into 4oz blocks. The blocks are then easily double wrapped and stackable for the freezer. Maybe you are wondering, much like my family, what I'm going to do with all this lard. Well, here's a little hint of what's to come:
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