Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Pierogi

Need help from the lard-o-philes...

Recommended Posts

So. I found, for the first time, (after only 30-plus years of MegaMart shopping) a package of pork fat at the local chain grocery the other day.

Helpfully labeled as "pork fat". :hmmm:

Of course, I got excited and scooped it up. It was the one and only of it's ilk in the meat case. Plus, it was cheap. And....I immediately figured, "I CAN MAKE LARD !!!" Ewwwww.....ahhhhhhh.

So, now I'm about to embark on the Great Lard Journey. I've no qualms about the actual process. It seems pretty straight forward, albeit stinky, but I have a good exhaust fan and nicely placed windows in the kitchen, so I'm sure it'll be fine.

My questions are two-fold.

Is this stuff, simply labeled "pork fat" with no indication as to where the fat was gleaned from, suitable for rendering into lard?

And...

The label on the package says "use by May 11" which is, of course, Friday. Now I plan on the big rendering tomorrow. But does that expiry date on the fat itself mean that the lard should immediately be placed into the freezer after rendering, or will it store for the month or so I see referenced in the "methods" in the fridge?

As I said, the fat was cheap (less than 3 bucks), so if you all don't think it'll render into decent lard, I'm not gonna be too bummed. But I'd like to make it work.

Thanks in advance !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I render lard all the time. Well, not literally! I do have a life!

It's so simple. Most people around here do so. I always laugh when I see western bloggers etc dutifully reporting on how they steam their vegetables in little bamboo baskets from the local Asian store. And the staff in the Asian store are laughing too.

I have never met anyone in China who steams vegetables and have never met a home cook who has those bamboo baskets. They are used for steamed bread which you buy by the roadside or for dim sum which is a going to restaurant thing.

Vegetables are nearly always quickly stir-fried in lard. Which is usually freshly made. You have the meat for the meat dish; cut off and render the fat for the veggies or they will taste of nothing.

But I digress.

Any pork fat can be rendered. Cut it into smallish cubes (I guess roughly ½ inch square). Drop a tablespoon of water into a hot wok (This stops initial charring), then immediately add the fat. The water will soon boil off, leaving the fat exuding it's liquid content. Drain this off into a metal bowl when it there is enough to make it seem sensible.

Keep going and draining until the fat browns and becomes crispy.

Give the remaining crisped fat to Mrs Liuzhou who will immediately divorce me and pledge her allegiance to you, while wolfing the stuff down.

Keep it in the fridge (the rendered fat! not my ex-wife). It lasts for years and is great for stir frying vegetarians.


Edited by liuzhou (log)
  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

... It lasts for years and is great for stir frying vegetarians.

Arf arf !

The reason for the use-by date is the water content in the raw fat. Rendering eliminates it (1) by boiling it off and (2) by leaving it in the cut chunks of fat - up to the point where they go brown. These pieces - properly browned - will also keep well. The French call 'em lardons, IIRC.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Liuzhou's process sounds fairly similar to what I do when I render kidney fat for suet (I can't think of any reason to treat fat from pigs differently to that from cattle).

For some reason, suet is very hard to find in Denmark, so every now and again I go to the local slaughterhouse, and score some kidney fat. This is in the form of fairly substantial, membrane-y blobs, and a little gross looking. I double bag it, shove it in my rucksack, tip the slaughterhouse guy (they don't charge for it, it's evidently waste), and head home.

Back home, I snip open the bags, tip the fat blobs into a large pan, set it over low heat (to prevent any browning, since I want it to be as neutral-tasting as possible), and let it melt for a couple of hours. I may slash at it a bit to break it down, but mostly I just leave it. I've never noticed that it stinks, but that may be because it's fresh. Once, I refrigerated the fat overnight, and cut it up in chunks, then proceded to render it; the results were identical.

Once the fat is fully melted, I strain the whole mess through one of the old t shirts I save for this purpose (I recomend doing this over the sink, squirting can happen). This leaves me with a white, virtually odourless and flavourless product, which is as good for plum pudding as for pastry for a pot pie. I keep the rendered fat in the freezer, since I don't use it that often (if you freeze it, make sure to make a layer that's thin enough to break pieces off).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the most effective (meaning giving the most yield) ways of rendering fat was discussed in Modernist Cuisine. It doesn't yield any crunchy bits (so Mrs. Liuzhou won't be happy, but you'll have a lot more fat for the effort). Basically, cut up the raw fat into small chunks and put in the blender and cover with water. Blend until you have a nice fat-shake, then put in a pan and simmer on the stovetop or in low oven. The solids will make a raft on top, and you'll have loads of beautiful rendered fat beneath. They've also taken the fat shake, put in a mason jar and put in the pressure cooker. IIRC, they also added some baking soda but I don't have the book in front of me so I can't check it. I think they found the pressure cooker method to yield the most neutral fat.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One of the most effective (meaning giving the most yield) ways of rendering fat was discussed in Modernist Cuisine. It doesn't yield any crunchy bits (so Mrs. Liuzhou won't be happy, but you'll have a lot more fat for the effort). Basically, cut up the raw fat into small chunks and put in the blender and cover with water. Blend until you have a nice fat-shake, then put in a pan and simmer on the stovetop or in low oven. The solids will make a raft on top, and you'll have loads of beautiful rendered fat beneath. They've also taken the fat shake, put in a mason jar and put in the pressure cooker. IIRC, they also added some baking soda but I don't have the book in front of me so I can't check it. I think they found the pressure cooker method to yield the most neutral fat.

The fat shake method is the best way I've found to render fat, and depending on the source of your fat (i.e., if it has meat attached), you often get a bonus of a small amount of very gelatinous stock at the bottom of the cooled product.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you don't have a food processor, grinding the fat through the smallest plate of a grinder is good too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First, there is this previous topic on rendering lard . And then there is the RecipeGullet instruction page by FIFI, who is still missed greatly.

I grew up on a farm where the rendering was done is a huge iron kettle in the kitchen yard and the result was canned and processed in half-gallon jars so it could be stored at room temp.

I use crock pots for batches of about 3 pounds. I use an electric roaster for batches of about 10 pounds.

I've always just chopped it into smallish chunks or put it through a meat grinder if the fat was full of membrane.

I buy pork fat at the local Mexican markets as they sell "leaf lard" under that name and for me that is the best for rendered lard and a lot of people think the same.

There is an online supplier that ships rendered leaf lard to those who can't find it locally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lard rendered for baking is different for lard rendered for cooking. With the former, you want a neutral taste and the latter, you want a deep, porky taste. Leaf lard is the most prized for baking due to it's highly crystalline structure but any lard can be used for cooking.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the advice folks ! I knew I could count on y'all. We'll see how it goes with the Big Rendering Project. I'm *sure* it will be fine. I'm stoked to think I'll actually have "good" (read--non-hydrogenated) lard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Lard-ocity" has been achieved !!! I'm very happy. My kitchen smells WONDERFUL, full of well-done, crispy pork goodness smells. The dogs hovered all afternoon, thinking they might get blessed enough to score some of whatever caused such good smells. Not a chance, pipsqueaks !

It was a piece of cake. Just a bit time-consuming, but no big whup. The time went by quite quickly since I baby-sat the rendering process whilst enjoying a delightful adult beverage or two.

I was a bit bummed that the pound of fat I had only yielded a bit over a cup of lard. Maybe I didn't let it go long enough? Next time, I'll try with more fat.

I'm a convert. Time to make flour tortillas !

Oh, and Mrs. Liuzhou will have to pry those crispy porky goodies from my cold, dead hands. Just sayin'.


Edited by Pierogi (log)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Depending on how "pure" the hog fat is, I expect to get almost a quart of lard from three pounds of fat.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Liuzhou's process sounds fairly similar to what I do when I render kidney fat for suet (I can't think of any reason to treat fat from pigs differently to that from cattle).

For some reason, suet is very hard to find in Denmark, so every now and again I go to the local slaughterhouse, and score some kidney fat. This is in the form of fairly substantial, membrane-y blobs, and a little gross looking. I double bag it, shove it in my rucksack, tip the slaughterhouse guy (they don't charge for it, it's evidently waste), and head home.

Back home, I snip open the bags, tip the fat blobs into a large pan, set it over low heat (to prevent any browning, since I want it to be as neutral-tasting as possible), and let it melt for a couple of hours. I may slash at it a bit to break it down, but mostly I just leave it. I've never noticed that it stinks, but that may be because it's fresh. Once, I refrigerated the fat overnight, and cut it up in chunks, then proceded to render it; the results were identical.

Once the fat is fully melted, I strain the whole mess through one of the old t shirts I save for this purpose (I recomend doing this over the sink, squirting can happen). This leaves me with a white, virtually odourless and flavourless product, which is as good for plum pudding as for pastry for a pot pie. I keep the rendered fat in the freezer, since I don't use it that often (if you freeze it, make sure to make a layer that's thin enough to break pieces off).

We buy lard from the store about10 pounds at a time and also make suet,It keeps the birds very happy and especially all the wood peckers

in the winter time,Bud

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I grew up on a farm where the rendering was done is a huge iron kettle in the kitchen yard and the result was canned and processed in half-gallon jars so it could be stored at room temp.

Andie,

Was the rendered fat canned in a water bath, or in a pressure canner? Did it ever become rancid after canning, that you can recall?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Lard rendered for baking is different for lard rendered for cooking. With the former, you want a neutral taste and the latter, you want a deep, porky taste.

Yes! It would be interesting to get input for rendering for less neutral tasting fat. I'm thinking about Mexican lard, manteca, which is supposed to be brown and have porky bits in it, and is harder and harder to find in Manhattan (at least the parts where I live and work - even the Mexican grocers at Essex Street Market only sell blocks of homogenized Armour lard these days).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I grew up on a farm where the rendering was done is a huge iron kettle in the kitchen yard and the result was canned and processed in half-gallon jars so it could be stored at room temp.

Andie,

Was the rendered fat canned in a water bath, or in a pressure canner? Did it ever become rancid after canning, that you can recall?

After rendering and straining into canning jars the lard has to be cooled completely before beginning the canning process and you have to leave at least ONE INCH of headroom in the jar.

The stuff has to be canned just as you would can any meat - Pressure canner at 10 pounds pressure for 2 hours If you have a big pressure canner that can give you RELIABLE 15 pounds of pressure you can process it for 90 minutes.

For smaller amounts I do not bother canning it. It is easier to freeze it.

To get a really smooth product, particularly for leaf lard, after rendering, strain the hot liquid into a deep bowl and after it has cooled for 45 minutes or so - less for small amounts, use a whisk or hand mixer to agitate the lard as it cools. If you have a stand mixer, turn it on low speed.

This will keep the lard from becoming grainy and will give you a much smoother, creamier end product which is more desirable for baking.

You can then put it in ziplock bags, lay flat on a tray, spread to an even thickness and put in the freezer till quite firm then cut away the top side of the bag, cut into cubes and finish freezing, break into cubes and store loose in a plastic bag or other container. This way you can remove just the amount you need without having to thaw the entire batch.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks! I have a lot of fat in the freezer, as yet unrendered, and I'd like to render it and can it, to make room. I have a lot of venison fat, which is unsuitable for cooking, but which will make good soap, I think, but I don't have the time to make the soap at the moment.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Armour makes "Manteca" and is readily available in a green and white container or box. One can find it in the oil or baking section almost anywhere. I tend use it when making soap sometimes as it makes a nice hard bar. However, pork-lard is a staple here and one of the reasons our city vacillates between #1 and #3 fattest cities in the US. :wacko:

I prefer to save rendered beef fat from briskets. Drain, chill, lift off the lard from any gelatin and freeze well wrapped in cling wrap in a freezer bag. Already smooth and creamy.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I had a chat with one of my aunts last evening and she remembered grandmother rendering some of the purest leaf lard separately, partially cooling it and pouring it into one of the rotary churns and beating it as it cooled with the churn set in a tub of cold water.

It became very white and creamy with none of the graininess of the regular "cooking" lard and this was what she used in her fine pastries and cakes.

She did the same thing with the rendered kidney suet when steers were slaughtered.

I don't remember this myself, I do remember that sometimes a day before something was to be baked that one of the big jars of lard would be set in a water bath to melt and some was poured into the bowl of the Mixmaster and it would be beaten as it cooled, often being worked in the "summer kitchen" where there was no heat in the winter. This was used for some cakes, until after WWII when shortening was easily available - although it wasn't Crisco my grandma used but Spry, a similar product.

Many of the lighter cakes were made with butter but there were a few - mostly all fruited - that were traditionally made with lard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

radtek, I think manteca is just the word for lard in Mexico, and Armour labels it as such in Spanish. But proper manteca for cooking comes in plastic tupperware-like containers and is semi-liquid, brown with floating porky bits in it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice! I have to look into the mexican market for some fat I guess.

My mom used to make what we called "Grammel Fett" (German or Austrian), which was basically cubed fat, rendered and left on the stove until the remaining parts browned and got all crunchy. That was then cooled in jars and used as a spread on bread, with some salt added. Utterly delicious! She has not made that in decades since fat is "bad", but I have a sudden craving for that now!

And I just have to say it again, this site is fantastic, but if there was only Andie here posting those wonderful stories of the past it would be worth a hefty bookmark! I really enjoy your stories Andie, you should put them in a book! Thanks for sharing all this wonderful kitchen wisdom with us!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And I just have to say it again, this site is fantastic, but if there was only Andie here posting those wonderful stories of the past it would be worth a hefty bookmark! I really enjoy your stories Andie, you should put them in a book! Thanks for sharing all this wonderful kitchen wisdom with us!

Ditto that!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi OliverB, i am from Vienna and here we get the so called "Grammel-Fett" in every supermarket, but many people do it at home. I make it as described, besides that i take out the browned cubes from the rendered fat, and squeeze them as dry as possible ( i use and old potatoe press for that) once they are cooled, i chop them and mix it with some of the lard (which is already cooled as well) to the consistency i want. perfect with some salt and pepper on it and a very cold glass of white wine! ;-)

give it a try! gaby

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×