Clean Eating: Render Your Own Lard

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Have you already figured out that lard is a nearly magical substance that adds wonderful flavor to food as well as being an outstanding cooking fat? You haven’t lived until you’ve cooked home fries in lard. Before you rush out and buy your lard at the grocery store, though, you should consider rendering your own…for at least a couple of compelling reasons.

  1. Avoiding additives: commercially-produced lard will likely contain additives, some of which are of questionable safety. For example, Armour Lard contains both butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and propyl gallate, both on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives”, as well as hydrogenated lard (trans fat).
  2. Cost: Renderings Leaf Lard (non-hydrogenated, no additives, preservatives or extracts, non-GMO) prices at about $24.90 for 14 ounces on Amazon. You should be able to make your own lard for considerably less than that, and it won’t take a lot of effort.

Is your curiosity piqued? Rendering your own lard basically consists of acquiring locally-sourced (ideally pastured) pork lard, chopping it into pieces, and cooking it down in a slow cooker. Once it’s melted into a liquid state, strain out the bits that will be left in the liquid and pour (carefully!) into a glass container to cool. Once cooled, keep in the refrigerator (which will return it to its solid state) until ready for use. Not only will you have delightful lard to use as you please, your kitchen will smell (appealingly, I think) of pork rinds while the lard melts in the slow cooker!

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Clockwise from top left: pork leaf fat; cubed fat in the crockpot; fat after cooking on low for 6-8 hours; cooled rendered lard in the jar.

What about those “bits” left after the lard melts into liquid? I like to save and, if not using immediately, freeze them. They’re great additions to a pot of slow cooker beans, adding subtle smoky pork flavor.

Don’t let convenience seduce you…enjoy clean, tasty, economical lard by rendering it yourself!

Are you still wondering if lard is a healthy fat? Check out Dr. Andrew Weil’s article, “Is Lard Healthy?”: https://www.drweil.com/diet-nutrition/nutrition/is-lard-healthy/.

EWG’s “Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives: Generally Recognized As Safe – But Is It?”: https://www.ewg.org/research/ewg-s-dirty-dozen-guide-food-additives/generally-recognized-as-safe-but-is-it#.Wp2Xq2aZOuV

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