Friday, October 22, 2010

Rendering Lard

I had heard someone mention that she renders her own lard, then read a little about on Mary janes Farm forum. I then realized that Crooked Gap Farm was having a pie bakers special on lard, so jumped at this opportunity to make my own lard.
I use lard in my pie crust, ask my family, it makes the best pie crust, but I didn't realize that the store brand that I buy is partially hydrogenated which equals bad and unhealthy. Well I'm not gonna eat that much less serve it to my family, so rendering my own lard is the only logical step, right? I'm not changing my crust, I'm certainly not gonna stop making pies!

I did as much research as I could find, and of course there is tons of info out there. But knowing myself, I needed an idiot proof way to do this the first time out, so crockpot lard it is.

RENDERING LARD IN YOUR CROCKPOT

Use clean largemouth jars and clean lids and rings.

(1) My lard arrived in 4 - 5 pound chunks, and was already ground up. If yours is not, cut into very small chunks or grind, it makes the whole process much nicer. You can use frozen, or thawed, it didn't matter much in my case.

(2) Put the lard in your crockpot, add a 1/2 cup of water, cover, turn on low and let cook for about 3 hours. Check it, stir it so nothing browns or burns. I checked and stirred every hour or two.

(3) when most of the fat is melted down, (12 hours for me), start filtering and putting into wide mouth jars or containers. I put a funnel in my jar, then a strainer, then a coffee filter. Filter while you jar as once it starts cooling it doesn't filter very well. You do want to filter and not just strain, especially if you intend to use for pastries, it makes a nicer end product and no pork odor. Start filtering and jarring before the lard starts browning. When jar is full, lid it and put in the fridge. You can keep it in the fridge or freezer. Opinions vary!

(4) what is left in the crockpot will need to keep cooking, but keep checking and stirring and pouring off, filtering and jarring until its just solid stuff and its difficult to get any more liquid out. This lard will be light but will turn white when it cools.

(5) transfer out these semi solids to a tall pot and keep cooking on medium low watching carefully and stirring so it doesn't burn. As the liquid rises to the top, scoop out solids and oils and filter and jar as before, just stir the solids around so the liquid filters into the jar. Keep doing this until the solids are nearly dry. Keep watching and stirring so it doesn't burn. This lard is amber, but will turn creamy white as it cools. This will be good for savory dishes and frying.

(6) cook these solids, which are now called chicharrones until crispy and dry, but don't overcook. These are good salted for snacking, but I am saving these as a special treat for my dog :)

I haven't used my lard yet, but I'm excited to use it in my pie crusts!

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

Thankful

My garden didn't really over produce this year, it did alright, I don't believe anyone in this area had an outstanding harvest this summer, but that's how it goes sometimes. Although, I do find myself with a deep profound thankfulness for what I did harvest. We had green beans, pattypan squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers and lots and lots of basil and other herbs. My garden have me all I needed, when I wanted it.
I purchased a lot of jalapenos from my Coop, and I make bread and butter jalapenos, they are hot! I also canned green tomato and jalapeno relish. I still have peppers left and wondered if my poor tomato plants had enough for me to do another batch. Of course they did, and happily have them up for me. I also needed a red sweet pepper for my relish, and of course, there was one, plus a lot of my own jalapenos to use.
See? What I needed when I wanted! I'm a lucky lucky lady! Its the little things :)
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