Rendering is a process that transforms whole animal fatty tissue into purified fats. Rendering is done using many different ways – steaming, boiling, or dry heat. If cows are the source of fat, the result of rendering is called tallow. If the pig is the source of fat, the result is called lard. Lard is a semi-solid white fat.
- Authors Stanley Marianski and Adam Marianski, in the book Home Canning Meat, Poultry, Fish and Vegetables, described lard as “poverty food”.
- Vegetable oil pushed lard aside, but sometime in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the trans fat partially hydrogenated vegetable oils led to the resurgence of lard among cooks.
- You’d think lard has ceased to become an important kitchen commodity, but in 2004, the UK had to deal with a Christmas season lard crisis.
- The National Hog Lard Month is celebrated every November.
- Lard is used in making soap.
- Lard can also be used as biofuel.
- Before, lard was used as an anti-foaming agent in brewing.
Lard Buying Guide
Here are some tips when buying lard:
When buying lard, you have the option of choosing either fresh lard or shelf-stable lard. Fresh lard is rendered pork fat. Add hydrogenated fat and it becomes shelf-stable lard. The additive is necessary to preserve freshness so that you can store it for longer. Of the two, the fresh lard is the healthier option. You can buy fresh lard from your local butcher, meat shop, or artisanal store specializing in pork and pork byproducts. Shelf-stable lard is sold in grocery stores and supermarkets. You can find it in the section, aisle, or shelf along with cooking oil or butter.
If you want high-quality lard, choose the one that says “leaf lard” or “back fat”.
Always inspect the overall condition of the product. Check the packaging to see if there is no damage that could have compromised the condition and quality of the lard inside.
Before buying, make sure to check the best before or expiration date of the lard.
Lard Production & Farming in Texas
Rendering pork fat to produce lard is a thriving industry in Texas, an agricultural state where you can find many farms and ranches that raise livestock including pigs. Farms specializing in producing lard opt for heritage hog breeds over modern hog because heritage hog breeds have higher body-fat contents, while modern hogs are leaner. Sought-after breeds great for producing lard because of fat content include the Hungarian Mangalitsa hog and the Large Black pig of Great Britain.
TexasRealFood provides a listing of local businesses selling lard to help you find the nearest local source, like Zanzenberg Farm in Center Point, Texas, which sells fresh lard. Hillbilly Nutrition in Waxahachie, Texas, also sells lard.
Grocery stores and supermarkets like United Supermarket, Central Market, Walmart Neighborhood Market, and H-E-B (an American privately held supermarket chain based in San Antonio, Texas) sell lard.
Pesticides, Additives, and Chemicals:
Here are some of the additives you will find in store-bought lard.
- Antioxidants – This prevents the auto-oxidation of fats.
- BHA and BHT – Butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) and butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT) are antioxidants used in lard to help in keeping the lard stay fresh for as long as possible.
- Propyl gallate – also known as propyl 3,4,5-trihydroxybenzoate, is a white to creamy-white crystalline powder used to protect lard from oxidation. Propyl gallate can potentially become an endocrine disruptor.
- Tert-butylhydroquinone (TBHQ) is used to prevent the oxidative deterioration and rancidity of the fat due to anti-lipid peroxidation activity.
- Bleaching agents – This is used to manage the appearance of the rendered fat.
- Citric acid – This is used to improve the flavor of lard.
- Deodorizing agents -This is used in the deodorization process, considered as an important part of the process of refining the product by removing odoriferous compounds so that lard does not have any unwanted smell.
- Emulsifiers – Emulsifiers help bind fat and liquid molecules.
The US is at the top five of the list of major lard producers worldwide. China is the top maker of lard followed by Germany and Brazil. Russia, Italy, Poland, Romania, France, and Mexico are also major producers of lard consumed worldwide.
Lard is called Griebenschmalz in Germany. The English word “schmaltz”, on the other hand, refers to kosher fat rendered from chicken, duck, or goose.
Lard is usually sold as paper-wrapped blocks. Lard is also sold in plastic tubs and glass jars.
Lard is used in cooking, and if lard is produced properly, there won’t be any bad smell or bad taste from food cooked with lard when you eat it.
Lard sandwiches are commonly served along with beer in Poland, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. If you are in Poland, try the local sandwich that features lard and chopped apples spread on a thick slice of bread.
Keep lard in a tightly sealed container. Do not store lard where it is exposed to direct sunlight or where it is very hot. Lard can tolerate room temperature but it will last longer if you keep lard refrigerated. Can you freeze large? Sure you can. Freezing lard will extend the shelf life of your lard; you can still use frozen lard 3 to 6 months past the expiration date or best before date. Here’s a great tip: freeze lard in small parts so you don’t have to defrost the entire tub.
Lard will eventually go bad, unsuitable for cooking, and unsafe for eating. So always check the lard in your storage.
Storage is important to make sure the quality of your lard remains optimal, but remember that there are other things you can do if you want to improve the shelf life of your lard. First, make sure to use clean utensils for scooping, always. If that utensil has been dipped or was used to scoop something else, do not use it to scoop another batch of lard from the tub. Many of us appreciate the practical wisdom of reusing lard and that is fine, just make sure that fresh, unused lard is not mixed with any used lard you want to reuse. Just store used lard in a different container.
Lard is a prominent ingredient in many different recipes found in European, American, and Asian cuisine at the height of lard’s popularity.
Lard is used as a cooking fat, shortening, or as a spread, providing flakiness to pastry. Leaf lard – this type of lard is made from pig’s kidney and loin – is used for making pastries and baked goods. You can use lard in making savory dishes like sausages, pâtés, and fillings. Lard is used in making mince pie, Christmas puddings, lardy cake, Mexican tamales and empanadas, in cooking refried beans, and for frying fish and chips. Lard is an important ingredient in the Scandinavian pâté leverpostej. Lard is popular in Spain, where it is called manteca, which is used in toasted bread and for making ensaimades dough. Lard is used in making dripping sandwiches which are popular in Europe. They are called zsíroskenyér (“lardy bread”) or zsírosdeszka (“lardy plank”) in Hungary, and Fettbemme in Germany.
Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kong, and Macao cuisines feature the use of lard in making lard rice, while in Japan, lard is used in ramen.
Lard is commonly used as general-purpose cooking oil, used in stir-fries and deep-frying.
Kashrut and Halal restrictions mean lard cannot be used in making food. Beef tallow is used instead. Today, vegetable oil has become more popular over lard, but many people still prefer to use lard.
There are a lot of foods today that contain trans fat which increases bad cholesterol and lowers good cholesterol in the body. One of the advantages of (unhydrogenated) lard is that it has zero trans fat while hydrogenated lard contains fewer than 0.5 g of trans fats per 13 g serving.
Lard has zero protein and zero carbohydrates. But lard provides fats that are important so that we have energy. Fats also help us absorb vitamins. If you eat carbohydrates with fats, digestion happens slowly, helping us avoid experiencing a sugar crash.