Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Back to the basics

Okay, enough of this family and daily diary stuff. It’s time to go back to the reason that I’m here …. to teach (okay, to learn something and pass on the results to you)…..

I rendered some lard this weekend … this is the lard that I got from the butcher when we picked up our pig last week.

Now, as we all know, lard is the best for cooking, frying and baking. Any old recipe will call for lard. Any new recipe will call for shortening (Crisco or any other brand). Crisco, a popular brand of shortening, was first produced in 1911 by Proctor & Gamble and was the first shortening to be made entirely of vegetable oil. The initial purpose was to create a cheaper substance to make candles than the expensive animal fats in use at the time. Electricity began to diminish the candle market, and since the product looked like lard, they began selling it as a food. This product became known as Crisco, with the name deriving from the initial sounds of the expression "crystallized cottonseed oil".

It’s hard to believe that I have been stuffing shortening into my fat little body all these years. Maybe that’s why I’m so weird?

I have tried to stop using shortening in my cooking, recently, by adding extra butter (never margarine) in cookies and cakes. However, according to some sources, lard is actually better for you in many ways. But, if you purchase lard, it sometimes has preservatives in it .. and aren’t we all trying to get rid of those?

Rendering my lard was not difficult – and was even fun. I was warned that the process would smoke and stink up my house, so I planned on doing it outside – however, the weather has not been cooperating, so I decided to try it inside. Yes, it does smell, but not terribly – kind of like cooking bacon all day long. The lard comes from the butcher in large tubes – kind of like sausages without the casing – and it was frozen. I put it into my large stainless steel pot and started to simmer with as low a heat as the stove would go. Because it was frozen, it took a while to melt and start looking like golden water.

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Straight from the butcher

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Liquid Lard

I strained it – tried a coffee strainer, but it didn’t work well, so I used part of an old (clean, of course) pillow case which worked marvelously. The cracklings (meaty pieces) are going to be given to the chickens, a little bit at a time. Norm says it will make laying the eggs easier, as the cracklings and left-over lard will grease the eggs coming out … who ever told him he was funny????

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Coffee filters plug up too quickly

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Cracklings are supposed to be good, but the chickens will benefit from the protein

After the lard was strained, I put it into a smaller (12 quart) stainless steel pot and warmed it up. I heated up quart jars and heated up the lids. Then poured the liquid lard into the jars to seal. It didn’t take long for the seal to take and now I have jars of lovely white lard to use – probably half a life-time’s worth!!

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Liquid Gold

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting Pure white stuff

Now that I have it, what will I do with it? My ‘lard’ crock has been filled with shortening – I faked it when I was working at Historic Murphy’s Landing. I washed it out and now have really-truly lard in it. Not much, as I’m not sure how long it will stay good out of the fridge or sealed in a jar, but enough to coat the pans I season and use for frying – instead of vegetable oil or shortening. I will not give up my olive oil, but plan on doing what little deep frying I do with lard instead of vegetable oil. Sources SAY it’s better and has a higher smoke temperature.

I have a recipe for home-made Bisquick and will now use lard instead of shortening – I am tempted to throw away what I have made and make a small batch with lard and my new Golden White flour that I am testing.

So, that’s all about lard – all you wanted to know and were afraid to ask! I will enjoy my lard on this beautiful but blustery day. You have a beautiful day!


Autumn said...

Connie, thank you so much for sharing tha. I learned a lot. My grandmother use to use lard in her cooking (both grandmothers), and I heard my mother talk about it, but had never seen how it was processed. I don't use crisco now days unless I have a recipe that calls for it because I try and use the better for us corn oils. However as a young bride I fried with it all the time. Nothing taste better than fried chicken in a cast iron skillet that was cooked in crisco!

Grandma Rosie said...

This really good Connie. Thanks so much for the step by step w/photos. Great learning tool.

happyowl said...

Connie, thanks for posting how to do this and using the pictures. Are you planning on putting them in your second fridge or on a shelve?

Brightest blessings


Anonymous said...

My mother always said you have to use lard to make good pie crust. However, I thought it was artery clogging, so never used it.

The Unusually Unusual Farmchick said...

A little fiction and fact from Connie's almanac!
I love that saying- My father in law always has that kinda odd yet very interesting things to share such as yours with lard. I immediately thought of his little catch phrase he use to say when I first became associated with him.
Thank you- I learned something rather interesting to share with another.