How to Render Leaf Lard for Baking

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Before we start, you may be asking what is leaf fat? It's the fat that comes from around the kidneys of a hog. It's supposed to be cleaner, and less porky tasting than lard rendered from regular hog fat. Boiling down pork leaf fat into snowy white lard for pie crusts, pastries, tortillas, or whatever else you want to make with it sounds like it's something best left to those experienced homesteaders that know what they're doing, right? All those warnings about it having a piggy flavor if not cooked correctly made me doubt myself. Perhaps I should wait to tackle this when it's not the week before Thanksgiving and I'm trying to get a million things done before we host? 

I only have one bag of leaf lard from the hog I bought from the Amish, so there's only one chance at doing this right....

That's not the spirit! You'll never know if you can do something if you don't at least try. So I pulled out my bag o' leaf fat and went at it.

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 It's not that complicated. I rendered my first batch of pork leaf fat into beautiful creamy lard in about an hour. I'll show you how!

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First thing I did was chop it all up into tiny pieces. If you have a meat grinder you can grind it from frozen. I have one, but didn't feel motivated enough to clean it when I was done, chopping worked just fine. I cut out most of the red pieces which were either small bits of meat or vessels. Too many meaty parts cooking with your lard could make it piggy tasting. 

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Next, throw it in a pan on very low heat. I used a large non-stick skillet and set the stove on extra low. You don't want your fat sizzling, popping, or smoking. Rumor has it the lard will also taste piggy if cooked too fast. Lots of piggy taste fear mongering circulating in those leaf lard how to's.  

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Let it cook slow and low. I stirred it around a bit, and mostly just watched it do it's thing while I sipped a cup of coffee.

Here's a photo progression of the lard rendering over an hour.

When the crackling peices look like there's no fat left to boil down, strain it through a cheese cloth into a clean bowl.

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Then pour it into a jar. An alternative storage option would be a neat ice cube tray so you can freeze small portions of it. This tray would make your pie making extra fun.

If you bake in a club of sorts you'll at least get some laughs when you use them. Can someone please start a pie baking club? I would join that.

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After the lard was done I tried to fry the cracklings up as a snack, but they tasted awful. Pork cracklings are not for me. I'm attempting a zero waste thing here, but that was a fail.

After the lard cooled I opened the jar and smelled it. I was 100% positive I ruined it and my crust was going to be piggy tasting. It smelled exactly like cold bacon. An Instagram follower assured me it was going to taste great and that bacon taste cooks right out. I made a quiche right then and there to check, and amazingly enough no piggy taste!

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I ended up with 2 cups of lard, so only a few Thanksgiving pies were made with it. The difference between the lard crusts and butter crusts was striking. Lard creates these beautiful, light, flaky crusts. Hands down the best pie crust ever. I have to get my hands on more so I can try making tortillas with it. I love homemade tortillas.

Do you have access to leaf lard to try this out? I wish I had some advice to give on where to find it, but other than ordering a whole hog and requesting they give it to you, or calling a few real butcher shops, I got nothing. Our milk share program sells it already rendered, but I think that's less fun. I'm considering either ordering another woodlot hog, or just asking them if anyone has ordered a hog but doesn't want it. If you find another way to get a hold of it be sure and share in the comments here! I'll bet other readers could benefit from the suggestions. 

The next project from the whole hog is going to be head cheese. For real. I asked for the head when I gave my cut-list, and and they gave it to me. The young Amish butcher gave me a few looks when I picked it up, and I'm not really sure if we'll like it, but it's worth a try!

Keep up with what I'm working on via Instagram or Facebook! You know I'll share immediately when that hog head starts thawing. If you haven't subscribed yet, do it so you can see my amazingly fun welcome email! Just kidding, it's only marginally clever, but I just piqued your interest so now you're going to do it out of curiosity. 

Cheers!

Bev

This post contains ads & affiliate links (this links to our full disclosure about browser cookies, and way more than you probably wanted to know about ads and affiliate marketing). We make a small commission when you purchase from some of the links shared in this post. Making a purchase from a link will not cause you to pay more or affect your purchase in any way. It will however, support our wildest farmin' dreams, which is mighty awesome of you.