I love lard to use in cooking…..
And it is really easy (and cheap!) to make your own. And by making your own lard, you can be sure that it is nothing but pure pork fat, it has not had anything added to it, and you can be confident about the quality of the pork fat that has gone into it. If possible, it is always better to use the fat from pastured pigs to make lard as they naturally produce vitamin D, so pastured pork lard will contain a higher proportion of this important vitamin.
The other day, I managed to buy some pork fat, so decided to make my own lard.
I cubed it up into small cubes
And tossed it into the slow cooker set on low along with half a cup of water. The purpose of the water is to stop the fat from burning until some of the fat has rendered out. The water pretty much evaporates during the long cooking time though.
The picture up above was taken after about 2 hours of cooking. All that liquid is lard that has rendered out of the fat.
After about 8 hours of cooking in total, the fat pieces were starting to look golden and there were substantial amounts of liquid fat in the pot. I drained off most of the liquid fat into a mason jar and let it cook for another 4 hours.
By this time, the fat pieces were crispy and golden coloured and the amount of liquid fat was not increasing any more. So I drained the whole thing through a sieve, poured the golden coloured liquid fat into the jar
and saved the crunchy fat pieces.
These crunchy pieces were seasoned with salt and I popped them into the oven (190°C/350°F) for 10 mins or so to really crisp them up just a little more.
Meanwhile, my jar of melted lard was popped in the fridge to set.
By next day, I had a jar of clean, white lard that could be used for cooking. Not bad from $3 worth of pork fat!
This lard is SO much better for cooking than the over-refined flavourless, greasy blocks you can buy in the grocery store… There is a reason why they never store them in the refrigerators…. it is because they have been so refined that no bacteria would even entertain eating them!
But this lard actually has flavour. And it imparts that delicious porkiness in everything that it is cooked in it.
Even if you cannot find pastured pork fat, I would encourage you to buy pork fat (Asian stores are a good source, or ask your butcher), and render your own lard simply because of the taste!