In 2010 when we first started selling our Red Wattle pork to some of the coolest Chicago restaurants, our lives changed not just in the extra income (which was sweet) but in our knowledge of good and bad fats. Those chefs know stuff!
All through my nursing career it was ingrained in my head that fat is bad. The American Heart Associations propaganda is finally beginning to waver on this but still, for decades we Americans were sold a very bad bill of health: eat margarine, not butter, drink skim milk not whole and certainly not raw milk, avoid mayo and red meat, blah blah blah. And I, like so many others, was baking with Crisco, cooking with margarine, spraying some kind of petrol product in my cooking pans and gargling with corn oil. Yuck.
But over the last five years we've replaced all that crap with the good fats. We keep three here on the poor farm; butter, coconut oil and lard. Finally research is beginning to catch up with us good fat loving freaks, and admitting that some fats, like those from pasture raised animals, really is best.
Some homesteaders swear by their home grown beef fat (tallow) but I prefer hog fat (lard). Like so much of the other tasks here, turning hog fat into the easier to deal with form of lard, is not difficult, it just takes time and a couple big crockpots.
When we take our hogs to the locker we always get the fat returned to us. It comes in long strips, frozen solid. When I want to make lard I let it partially thaw, and then cut into chunks. Thanks again to DIL Tab who recommended the Mercer brand of knives for my kitchen use. Love them!
The chunks are tossed into a crockpot set on low and then I just let it cook down. Over the next few hours the fat melts into a lovely cream color and gets very hot.
As more of the fat melts away, more lard is produced and you can add additional fat chunks if you'd like. Periodically I will scoop out the hot, melted lard and place in in a stainless steel bowl. When it's cool enough I'll then ladle into glass jars to keep in fridge, or plastic containers to freeze. I always keep a fresh jar of lard on my countertop for cooking. Doesn't everyone? I also set aside some to make soap, as soap made with lard is most excellent for making your own laundry soap. No, the soap is not greasy and in fact laundry soap made with lard does an excellent job of removing grease and oil stains. It's science man, I don't understand it. Go ask Sheldon.
After a few hours, what fat doesn't melt completely away, turns a dark crunchy brown and makes excellent snaking with some sea salt of course. Fat is very filling and keeps me from grabbing the carbs, always and forever my weakness.