Growing up I don't think I ever heard the word lard unless it was used in a derogatory fashion, like tub o lard (we pronounced it tubbalard) or lard ass. I don't recall ever having lard in our house. We used Crisco or butter. Maybe my mom would save bacon fat to cook with but I don't think she ever bought lard. Did you, Mom?
Well, after packaging up the sausage yesterday I couldn't resist bringing home some of the fat from the pig to render it to make it into a lard I could use for soap or something like shortening. I had to Google "rendering lard" to find out how to do it. This is what I did. I cut up the leaf lard - the lard from the stomach area. I'm told this is the best fat on the pig, the stuff you use for cooking, not making soap. I cut it into 1/2 inch pieces, covered my cast iron pot with 1/4 inch of water and placed the fat in with the small amount of water.
I was feeling pretty good about my accomplishments - a real country girl I am. That is, until I called Tommy to ask him what the fat was called that came from the stomach area (the leaf lard). I told him what I did. He said, "can you smell it?"
"Yeah, I can smell it."
"No, I mean, can you SMELL it, smell it?"
"Yeah, I can SMELL it, smell it."
"Well, then you cooked it too long."
Turns out, you're supposed to keep pouring off the liquid as you cook it. I let it all stay in the pot the whole time until I thought it all had melted. What I have is like what you drain off bacon when you cook it, minus the little crumblies of meat.
Google failed me this time. I should have known to ask my friends, like Geraldine and Tommy, who have done this a bunch, how they do it and not rely on strangers.
Back to the drawing board. James assures me I'm not a failure. Tommy was also kind to tell me I didn't do it wrong but I don't know why he would say that. I'm not giving up. I'm going to get it right.
All this time I thought lard was really bad for us, as in, going to block our arteries and put us in an early grave. Then what do I read? Oh, lard is lower in trans fats than butter????? I know I shouldn't trust Google but there are so many websites telling me lard isn't as bad as we thought growing up in the 60's and 70's.
Here are a few sites that argue a case for lard.