Monday, May 2, 2011

Pork Leaf Lard, Finally!

In the several posts I've made on rendering fats on this blog, I have described "leaf fat" (which makes the very best lard, and pork leaf lard makes the very best pastry) as being waxy. I was right, and I was wrong... apparently. The beef leaf fat I got last year was indeed waxy. However, I just received 5 pounds of PORK leaf fat, and it bears NO resemblance to the beef leaf fat I've obtained in the past. (Note: this is from pastured pork, not from a CAFO.)

My 5 pounds arrived frozen, packed in extra dry ice still in the cooler, and I just chucked it in the freezer when it was delivered. Last night I put it in the refrigerator to defrost overnight, and today began rendering it on the stovetop.

The 5 pound "thing' is one big mass, although it must have been many individual pieces when it was removed from the hog(s). It is very soft at my room temp of 66-68ºF, and sticky to cut. The first portions I actually cubed before putting in the pan with about a quarter-cup of water. They soon started rendering and I added 2 slabs (not cubed) just to see how they fared. They became almost mush within about 5 minutes, and I "cut" them into smaller chunks with my whisk so they would have more surface area exposed to heat and thus render better.

Here's the first half, rendered, strained through 2 layers of fine butter muslin, and now cooling. The lard will turn white when fully cooled, and then I will weigh them. The small container is "cracklins'". 

Here's the finished goods. A total of 4.52 pounds of leaf lard and 7½ ounces of cracklins, for a total of 4.99 pounds. Since this rendered lard is soft rather than hard and waxy like the beef tallow, I plan to store it in the freezer.

Next on my list to acquire is duck fat or goose fat. Probably easier (and cheaper) to aim for duck fat. I will use some for confits, and some for frying potatoes... which I understand makes an incredible fry... and freeze the rest.


  1. We raise our own pigs. The leaf lard I had from last year's pigs was waxy, but certainly not as much so a tallow. But it should be hard when chilled. Now we finished our pigs last year on rolled oats & barley, some alfalfa, hay, whey, and lots of acorns. With 5 children, I never have enough. So....

    I got some from the local custom butcher (sadly, most people don't want their lard these days!!). Rendering this leaf lard produced a soft product, even when chilled. So sad. Still usable. But I believe it is in the finish feed, not so much the pasturing (ours are raised on the ground but not really pastured as we don't have the space at this point). I came across your post (but have been here before....from cheeseforum) googling on what modern feeds are making this icky, soft leaf lard.

    FWIW, chicken fat (you get lots from older laying hens, a.k.a. stewing hens) makes a good "poor man's" potato frying fat. And I currently use lard for confits. Likely duck & goose fats add more flavor. But lard is also traditional.

    Get yourself some pork liver & fat back (a 4 to 3 ration works well) and make some Danish Liver Pate!! Yummy stuff!

  2. Thanks, Kristin. This lard wasn't really soft or runny, just not quite what I thought it would be based on the tallow. I found a local friend who will butcher her hogs after Thanksgiving so I'll have fresh fat to render (along with pig;s feet for Trotter Gear).

    I'd love to have a gallon of schmaltz!

    I'm really interested in knowing what you find out about the finish feed, please. My email addy is above under my profile.

  3. I'm not sure how much is the breed and how much is feed, really. I was googling today to see what feeds made for soft leaf lard. It could be many things combined. Last year's pigs had a bit of "wild boar" in them and that may have given them a better fat layer than some of the commercial breeds we raised in years past. This year, we have some 3/4 commercial breeds and some 3/4 Piney Woods Rooter. The latter have lovely lard, according to my friend that brought them all to us!

    If you do in some old hens, you'll likely get near a gallon of schmaltz! Amazing how much fat some of my 3-4 year old hens had in them! Yikes!

    Need to get my crew to bed! It is late! I'll check back now and again....shouldn't be on here at all!

  4. Now that you mention breeds, I'd think that has a lot to do with it, probably a lot more than the feed. However, since I have no livestock it's all armchair theory for me.

    I'd love to have chickens, and a couple of milk goats. Just need fencing...


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