Make Your Own Lard

Believe it or not, it's good for you

You WHAT?!" said my friend, making the most disgusted face I've seen someone make in some time. I rendered some lard over the weekend, I repeated. "WHY on EARTH would you want to do THAT?!" she cried.

I wasn't surprised. North American culture is so fat-phobic we demonize some of the very foods that are best for us, and among those foods is homemade lard. The store stuff isn't worth bothering with; it's hydrogenated to make it shelf-stable. What I'm talking about is lard from the fat of well-raised pigs, not factory farmed pigs. To get it, you're going to have to make it yourself. Luckily, that's not hard.

What you don't know about lard
Not only does lard make the best pie crusts, it's lower in saturated fat than butter--if saturated fat bothers you. It doesn't bother me, in fact, the plaque levels in my heart have actually improved since I've started eating good saturated fats. (They've actually gone and looked, so I feel safe in saying this.)

Technically lard isn't even a saturated fat; it's a monounsaturated fat. And it's one of the best dietary sources of vitamin D. It also contains no trans-fats. If there's fat to be avoided, trans-fats are the ones.

Finding fat

fat before rendering

The hardest part of making lard is finding a good source of pork fat. You're going to have to do a little digging, and it's important that you not just use any pork fat you find; you want to make sure the pig was properly cared for and fed right. Your average supermarket "butcher," and I use that term loosely, isn't going to have it; that pork is all factory farmed, and very few supermarket butchers cut whole carcasses any more. You may have more luck at a specialty market like Whole Foods, Wild Oats or the like, but be sure to inquire after the feeding practices.

If there is a farmer's market near you, look around and ask questions. That's how we stumbled onto our farmer, who is really in the goat cheese biz; he raises pigs on the leftover whey. We've bought two (incredibly delicious) pigs from him in as many years, and surprised the butcher by asking for all of the fat--and as much of the offal as we could get, but that's another article. Hey, we were paying for it. If you don't have a farmer's market, try where you can find farmers with good growing practices, and not just for meat.

Making it
Once you've found your fat, decide what you want to use it for. If you want it for pastries, try to find and use only the fat from around the kidneys--what's called "leaf" lard. I don't make much pastry, so I don't care about that.

Chop the fat into at least 1" cubes, taking any meat chunks off in the process. Some folks put it through a meat grinder. In any event, you want small pieces; otherwise you won't get as much fat out.

Heat your oven to 225°F. I use my cast iron dutch oven to render lard in. Put about a quarter-inch of water at the bottom of the pot; this keeps the fat from browning too much at the beginning, and it'll burn off in time. Add your chopped-up fat. Pop it in the oven for at least a couple of hours, stirring now and then. Eventually the chunks won't give up any more fat--it'll become obvious, the chunks will look the same after an hour as they did before.

As you're doing all this there will be a distinct smell. Some people like it, some people don't. It's a little too intense for my comfort, frankly, which is why I try to do a bunch of lard at once. If you can do this outside, or in a canning kitchen if you have one, so much the better.

lard being filtered

Let the lard cool to lukewarm; while it's cooling is a good time to gather up your jars and lids and make sure they're clean and ready to go. There are various methods to filter out the bits of meat and unrendered fat--the cracklings--from the lard, but what I use is a paper coffee filter and cone. Ladle the still-liquid lard, skipping the bigger chunks, into the filter.

Refrigerate the lard and use it within a month. If you've made more than you can use in a month, it freezes well.

Using it
Use it anywhere you'd use butter or shortening: To pop popcorn (the best!); to make pie crust; to fry eggs. In some cultures it's even spread on bread, topped with onions and salt, and called a sandwich. As for the leftover bits, the cracklings? Salt them and put them on salads or just munch on them. Josie loves them. We got more cracklings than we could eat, so we fed a lot of them to the chickens and used them as doggie and kitty treats.


Pam2's picture

We found this page because we bought the book 'Nourishing Traditions' and was surprised to see the book on this page during a web search on lard rendering! We have found a place to get the pork fat but was wondering an about average amount of lard per how much fat we'll be getting out, i.e. a large pig will produce (about) how much lard.


Zillah's picture

I am not alone! We do this, and it makes fabulous lard. Wonderful with red cabbage and apple.

One word of advice. When you've got your pork fat, do it as soon as you can. We once left some for two days before rendering it and the stench was unbelievable. I don't think I can remember smelling anything so revolting.

The fact is, pork fat rocks and this is the only way that I can get ethically raised lard :)


Lynn's picture

I didn't make any measurements when I did this article--that is, how much raw fat turned into how much lard. I just grabbed what I had and did it. I need to do it again now that fall is here.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Ma_Rhonda's picture

Do you know why the lard i bought from the super market smells like poop when i rubbed on my homemade bread after i took it out of the oven. It doesn't smell that way from the container.

Lynn's picture TERRIBLE for you! It's hydrogenated to make it shelf-stable. Please don't use it.

Raul Flores's picture

Hello Pam,

I hope you can still read this reply, since you posted your comment a while ago. I found the article very interesting and very good, so, thanks Lynn!.

Our family owned company produces lard here in Monterrey, Mexico. We use the traditional method (somehow very similar to the one explained by Lynn), but in large quantities and from farmed pigs. The numbers you will get are 50% to 55% Lard, 20% to 30% craclings, and about 15% to 20% will be lost in vapor. If you leave the meat on the chunks of fat, you will get great cracklings or "Chicharrones" as we call them, but the lard will be more brown.

By the way, my grandmother used lard during all of her life, and she died when she was 94 years old, "Cholesterol Free" and without any heart problems!!

Thanks again for the article,

Raul Flores

Lynn's picture

Love love love them. :) Thanks, Raul!

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Guest - Breyan 's picture

Why not just use "OLIVIO" olive oil is much better for you than any butter, margarine, or "Lard"....

Guest's picture

actually, if you did your research properly; you'd find that lard is much healthier than olive oil...

hypatia's picture

How exactly do you come to the conclusion that lard is "much healthier" than olive oil? Especially extra virgin (rather than refined)? Olive oil has a higher percentage of the mono-unsaturated, *healthy* fats that reduce bad cholesterol, than lard does. Plus it contains polyphenol anti-oxidants, being linked to lower cancer rates.

It just shouldn't be used in high temp applications, such as deep frying.

Guest's picture

On the subject of health, it is important to note that lard and olive oil have different nutrients that your body needs. Eating a wide variety of foods is the best way to ensure you are getting a little of everything. Regardless of whether lard or olive oil is healthier, you just can't make the same pie crust with a cup of olive oil. Both have their unique uses.

chris baggott's picture

Aside from the health debate, there is a lot more that goes into what makes lard 'good'.

A big part of this has to do with supporting local food systems and economies.

Any Olive Oil I buy is going to be either flown or driven thousands of miles and the profits from my purchase are going to line the pockets of a global corporate giant.

I'd rather spend my money with my neighbors whenever possible.

Guest's picture

great post but the best way to tell when the lard has been rendered is actually to keep watch of the "Chicharrones" (Yum!), not the size of the fat cubes -> when the cracklings sink to the bottom, it's time to take the pot off the heat and let it cool a little before straining into whatever vessel you plan on storing it.

Guest's picture

I was reading your post and I saw that your company produces lard. Well, I have been living in Korea for the last 11 years and have a problem finding lard here. is your company able to ship overseas?

Steve Clark's picture

I've actually just had a pig butchered today (4/20) that had a live weight of around 400+/- pounds and I asked the butcher for all the fat he didn't use for our sausage. this pig gave around 40 pounds of fat. which is plenty to make enough lard to last a while.
If you decide to raise your own pig you can be sure to get the best quality meat and fat because you control what it eats and how much fat you want.
Hope this answers you question.
Steve C.- Alabama

PAW's picture

I made lard from 8 LB leaf fat, which was from two pigs. The yield was a full half gallon canning jar, which weighed 48 oz. I may have been able to get more if I had cut the fat in smaller pieces or mechanically chopped it.

Frank Swoboda's picture

You can used cracklings in your tea biscuits if you don't squeezed them out. Instead of using butter or lard use the cracklings to your taste in your biscuits. I put 2/3 cup of cracklings to 1 cup of flour. I freeze them and then use a blender to chop them up and then measure. It gives tea biscuits a very unique flavor. My family came from Europe and were poor so they used everything.

CarolAnn's picture

And I don't think you google-bombed to get it.

Lynn's picture

No, I didn't google bomb. And this article is listed on Wikipedia in the "Lard" entry.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Mary Beth's picture

Thank you! Was reading the article on lard making for info, but you've given me a great laugh first thing in the morning (google bombed for lard!). Hee, hee, hee!

Sebastian S.'s picture

Hi, I love the article. Thank you Lynn. I just tried to make lard out of pork skin since it is very cheap, but didn't get much lard out of it. I come from Poland and we do eat home made lard with spices on a sandwitch just like Lynn says. I live in the US now and it is hard to find good lard or all those great meat cuts I used to get in Poland.
For all those who would like some challenge I recommend a book by Jan Kwasniewski, The Optimal Diet. In a nut shell Dr. Kwasniewski says that eating animal fat, cheeses and dairy products is all your body needs to live a long life. My father has been in this eating lifestyle for almost 15 years and at age 60 looks and feels better than most 20 year olds I know. Not only you will feel better (less illnesses and diseases) but you will also lose weight and sustain it at your ideal measures. Well, I have been on this "diet" for one year and a half and love it. Since I am not here to solicit or promote a website for Dr. Kwasniewski you can google yourself "Jan Kwasniewski Optimal Diet" and you will get many informative websites about this “diet.” I hope you will also find the Polish printing company that sells this book in English and Polish and I think in German. Thank you for reading this. Remember this is not a diet it’s a lifestyle of living.

Sebastian S.

Lexi's picture

Thank you for the instructions! I have been wanting to make my own lard for cooking particular items for which there is just no substitute. I have just two choices for pork fat from my source for grassfed pork: internal and external, and they are currently out of external. Will internal work just as well?T Thanks so much; I enjoyed your post.

Lynn's picture

You want the "leaf lard" for the best lard for pastry, but I just use it all.

Guest's picture

Nice job throwing in the condecending remark about butchers. The quality of the butcher is not determined by wether or not you like the meat the supermarket he works at purchases. And having been a federal meat inspector, I have to say you are much less likely to get a skilled butcher in a small owner run shop than in a supermarket. Much more likely to get food poisoning though.

Lynn's picture

...and he was a real butcher. He was incredibly strong from hauling primals around on his shoulders--hog halves and steer quarters. Yeah, at Safeway, right behind the meat case, really butchering. His hands were covered in scars. The smells of clean, fresh blood and bleach still make me think of him; I can always tell when I'm in a good butcher shop by if it smells like Grandpa when he was at work. I own his knives, and they are among my prized possessions; his carving knife can shave paper-thin slices of kevlar. And I miss him every day. So understand me when I say I am not being condescending toward supermarket butchers.

There just aren't any real butchers at supermarkets much any more (hence the quotation marks). Most of the guys behind the meat counter are clerks wearing white butchers coats. They don't even package the meat there; they just shuffle stuff around the case. It's not true in the case of every store in my area, but it's true of a great number of them. You couldn't get a custom cut at most of 'em to save your life.

I go wherever there's a real butcher, who's really cutting the meat on premises in a really clean shop. Rarely that's an independent butcher shop, though there are a couple here in town that are rightly famous and worth patronizing. I learned my lesson about those when my grandfather worked at a cut-price one between jobs and told us some harrowing stuff. Independents are either extremely good or extremely bad in my experience; I advise going by reputation and not by price, but then, animal products are the one area in our diet where I buy the best we can afford (and that doesn't necessarily follow price, either).

Right now I do 99.9% of my meat purchases from New Seasons Market, where they butcher on premises, out in the open where you can see it, and can custom cut you just about anything. They can tell you where the meat came from and how it was raised. They do their grinding on-site, and make their own sausages (really good ones, too). And it smells like Grandpa. :)

The 0.1% of the meat I don't purchase there, I get directly from the grower. In the last few years, that's meant a cut here and a cut there. With luck, this year we'll be buying a whole pig again (with the fat) and perhaps a quarter of a beef.

Liz Davey's picture

I just want to thank you for this site. The whole fam recently read Michael Pollan's In Defense of Food and I found your site. I think I found it in my google search for a good all wheat bread recipe. Love that recipe btw. This site just pooped up again when I was searching out instructions for homemade lard. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge and experience.

-Liz "RealLiveHousewife"
(My hubby says I could kick Betty Crocker's butt. He says she'd be opening a box of powdered chemicals in a cook-off while I whipped up something homemade. I'm sure she'd run screaming from you. LOL Keep up the great work!)

Lynn's picture

I can't make/eat bread any more, but I do still render lard from time to time. Don't eat fake food, folks! :D

Wendy B.'s picture

I just followed your recipe last night and when I drained the fat it came out layered in the jar. Milky on the bootom clearer, yellowish on the top. Is that normal? Wanted to make sure I did it right. By the way thanks for the info.

RedTulie's picture

googled this subject and found your page......thank you for sharing your experiences. Since I don't have a dutch oven, I don't have a vessel in which to put the fat in the oven. My first batch that I did yesterday I did on top of the stove. Took a long time. I didn't cut up the fat but I will next time. When I bought the fat, it was in fairly large bags, frozen. Wish I'd read your page before; I seem to google everything else :-)

Robert Harland's picture

Hi Lynne,

Greetings from the sunny Philippines.

I live in the provinces where it's not easy to get some grocery items so I often attempt to make those things myself.

I've been looking at some old cookery books which call for lard, but none is available here in the shops so I made a batch myself.

There's no way of finding what the pigs are fed on as they come from many sources - often from someone's back yard.

Anyway, I bought a load of fat and followed your very helpful instructions.

It certainly tastes like the lard I remember as a child, but when I take it from the fridge it becomes runny very fast. It is hot here so it might be the tropical climate or perhaps I put too much water when I rendered the fat.

What kind of consistency would you be looking for please?

Thanks a lot

Robert Harland
Bacolod City

Lynn's picture

Wow, what consistency? I should think that in a tropical climate it'd be runny outside the fridge just on principle. Here in Oregon, if I leave lard out it gets the consistency of soft butter. Actually, lard consistency is a lot like butter, but softer; butter can get rock-hard in the fridge--lard does, too, but is still a little softer. So if butter left out becomes quite soft in the Philippines, lard will, too, but a little softer yet.

I should think if there's too much water, it'd rise to the top; water and fat separate.

And as for feeding, a back yard pig probably gets better stuff than a factory pig. I imagine your average back yard pig gets leftovers, not corn, soy and antibiotics. Pigs need a varied diet, and were not meant to eat massive amounts of grain or beans--or antibiotics.

jbtvt's picture

Fats being less dense than water, they would be the substance on top, water sinks in liquid fat. Just FTR.

Robert Harland's picture

Hi Lynn,

Better late than never. I forgot to thank you for your helpful reply. I'm just about to make another batch of lard. I've been making it regularly since reading your column. Great for roasting. Cheers! Robert

Robert Harland's picture

Many thanks. Very helpful response. I think it must be the heat. I'll be eating the first meal I've cooked with lard tonight. I'm looking forward to it. Best, Robert

Beth Rogers's picture

This is such a helpful and informative article! Thank you!

I doubt that i will ever raise pigs, and i don't know anyone around here who does; however wild pigs are quite plentiful here, and often hunted. I would love to hear your opinion on rendering the fat from wild pigs. I'm pretty sure they don't ingest a lot of antibiotics and probably no corn.... =D

Lynn's picture

But nutritionally I bet they'd be absolutely awesome. Try it and report back! Now I'm extremely curious.

Guest's picture

Hi. I love this explanation and how many people are keenly eating lard because they know it is real food. I'm a holistic nutrition student and know that meat products really are wonderful for you when the animal that gave them was living the way it ought to.
Does anyone here know if the same method can be applied to render beef lard? I'm Jewish and, though I'm not religious, I've never eaten very much pork fat culturally. My grandmother used to make Shmaltz, or rendered chicken fat, on the stove in a pan. Could you do the same with fat from cows who where ethically raised, eating grass their whole life? I'd feel uncomfortable eating beef lard I purchased at a store.
Thank you!

Lynn's picture the name for rendered beef fat. I don't consider it good eats myself, but you could use the same method, I'm sure. I'd go with the schmaltz (mmm, schmaltz, I love it) and goose and duck fat. Them's REAL good eats.

Heather W's picture

We are slaughtering 9 pigs in the next few months so I am anxiously trying to learn as much as possible about lard.

Thank you for posting this! It was very helpful.

Guest's picture

I raise Berkshire pigs in SE Wisconsin. They are naturally raised with no growth hormones or huge confinement buildings. The Berkshires are an old world breed sought out for their excellent tasting meat. They are a fattier pig and should render a lot of lard.
I just took in 6 on Thursday and I have requested all the fat from them so I can make my own lard.
Can this be done on a Coleman stove outdoors or do you need an oven?

Lynn's picture

It smells horrid during rendering, so doing it outside would be ideal!

Joelle Hochman's picture

Hi Lynn,
We recently got a 12 lb organic, grass-fed smoked ham from our meat farm share, and I roasted it. When the pan drippings cooled the fat rose to the top and was clean, light colored and tasted delicious. We've been using it like lard, but is it? And if not, do you think it's ok to use?

Lynn's picture

but perfectly safe to eat. It's smoked lard! :D

Guest's picture

Rendered fat from a smoked piece of meat is not technically "smoked lard." The smoked lard loved in Scandanavian and middle European countries is basically fat back (or a fatty piece of meat from any red blooded animal) which has been rolled in herbs and spices generally including sweet or spicy paprika and salt, and has been cold smoked.

It resembles slab bacon (minus the wonderful herbs and spices), and is generally used as lardons in cooking, or is very thin sliced and placed on hot rye or pumpernickel toast so that the smoked lard slightly seeps into the bread while being eaten. Sometimes this toast is also served with a slice of sweet or green onion, and salt.

It's lucious!!!

David's picture

Hi Lynn,

Heated a smoked ham last night for some friends that had a fair amount of fat on it. I too noticed the white congealed fat in the roasting pan and dipped a biscuit in it this morning, which was quite tasty. I saved the fat and skin trimmings, figuring I would try to make some lard from it and/or use it to season further my cast iron Dutch oven. Do you have any sense of how tasty lard from a smoked ham would be? Seems like it should be good, but I am just not sure. I like the idea of spreading it on some homemade bread! What do you think?

Tom Mallen's picture

Does anyone know where I can buy leaf lard and really good GRAIN fed hogs in the Hillsboro/Portland Oregon area?

Lynn's picture

You want hogs to have an omnivorous diet. Hogs are not physically meant to eat grain, nor are ruminants like cows. It literally kills them. If you let a cow on feedlot grain live, within six months it would be dead. That's not me saying it, it's common knowledge withing the agricultural science community. It's one of the dozens of reasons we don't eat grain-fed.

I am in Portland. We get our pork from Pierre at Juniper Grove in Eastern Oregon. You can meet him and get on the list at the downtown Portland Farmer's Market.

Guest's picture

Courtesy of Wikipedia;

Toward the late 20th century, lard began to be regarded as less healthy than vegetable oils (such as olive and sunflower oil) because of its high saturated fatty acid and cholesterol content. However, despite its reputation, lard has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat, and less cholesterol than an equal amount of butter by weight.

Sorry, excess animal fat is not my forte :)

Lynn's picture

let me reiterate what you said:

However, despite its reputation, lard has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat, and less cholesterol than an equal amount of butter by weight.

The quotation you pulled SUPPORTS lard. If you don't want to eat it, don't. You don't need a permission slip from me. :)

Guest's picture

I have not tried making lard (plan to at some point) but for all the people who think lard is bad, try going to the weston price website, or perhaps reading sally fallon's "nourishing traditions" that's how I recently discovered that saturated fat is quite good for you :)

Union Glashutte's picture

Hate to say it, but I'd rather eat this than storebought! I've also heard in an emergency situation or hunting trip lard is a great mosquito repellent. That's kind of interesting. I didn't know it was better for you than butter! I guess it just has a bad rep!

Jill C's picture

Probably not a very good bear or wolf repellent, though!

Guest's picture

Why do some recipes use water and others not? One called for starting with one cup of water and adding two cups after the rendering and then refrigerate and skim off the lard.

Thanks for the help :?

Guest's picture

i'm rubbish at explaining things but this is pretty well said taken from another blog explaining the process -->
"This (addition of water) is actually a critically important step in the lard making process.
Not only do you have the water insulating the cooking fat, it also acts as an internal heating mechanism as the little bubbles of superheated steam escape and rise through the melting fat.
This aids in the quick melting of a large amount of lard. Later on in the process, the steam rising through the fat helps bring all the denatured protein and cellular detritus from the fat cells to the surface of the liquid. This helps clarify the fat and helps preserve it from acquiring “off” flavors and odors during long term storage."

jbtvt's picture

Not critical at all actually. Done it many times, and the ONLY difference is that the cracklins on the bottom will be a little browner if you don't use water.

I don't, because I like to cover mine to keep the fat from spattering all over the woodstove, and the more water you have in it, the more you will have to leave it uncovered and spattering to evaporate the water for storage.

(water, Definitely.)'s picture

the only difference during the 'on the heat' part, or overall to the finished product? i.e. is the end result as [clarified] and as preserved from 'acquiring “off” flavors and odors during long term storage'?
'denatured protein and cellular detritus' aren't the same as cracklings.. it's the scum that has to be skimmed off the top - is their adequate uhh.. 'scummage' lol without water? or is the resulting lard less white?
(splatter isn't a problem for me because this kind of stuff would never be allowed in the house, i would be reprimanded outside before i even managed to get the fat in the pot lol But - for all those who don't have the outside option - and just to generally make life easier - my aunt has this brilliant flat metal sieve meant for use on top of frying pans to stop the splatter when -whatever's cooking- needs the liquid to be evaporated - which i think you can find at any kitchen store nowadays)

Beth M.'s picture

I was googling on how to make your own lard and came across this one. I find it very helpful and interesting. We will be getting a hog in a few days that we ordered from the locker plant here, he only uses locally owned livestock to butcher. He asked me if I wanted the fat for lard and I told him I sure did, I have never made lard before but goin to give it a try. Hopefully it turns out ok, not looking forward to the odor from it tho while it's cooking. lol again thank you for the article.

Guest's picture

Is it a good idea to use farmers market bacon fat to use for lard?

Lynn's picture

Don't get me wrong--it's still good eats! We use bacon fat all the time. It's been cured, though; it's not lard. Use it wherever you wouldn't mind the flavor of bacon along with the fat.

Guest's picture

Excellent Lard article. I just want to point out that it was a little fuzzy on the part about what they eat and the mention that raised on a farm they probably get better food. That is all partially right. Also the mention about lard going bad in two days deserves a response. But your article was very very nice and useful.

The lard is monounsaturated like you state. But to get it that way you must feed the pigs Acorns, Barley, Rye, Pea Nuts, and lots of Hay. The Swabian Hall of Germany is fed nothing but Green fodder and pure dairy products. It is considered one of the tastiest pigs in all of Europe. But this is what makes your fat content on the pig very very good for you and makes the most pure white lard you have ever seen. This white lard will last a very long time before becoming rancid. This is why they can age pork in Spain for 22 months before eating it. This would never be done in the Unite States. U.S. pigs have a yellow tinge to their fat and it turns brown very quickly. This is the amino acids breaking down and due to the fact that U.S. pigs are fed corn or a derivative that is pure polyunsaturated fat. That is why no where in the United States do they produce Aged Pork. U.S. pork goes bad very quickly due to this corn feeding.

We actually produce our pigs using the old School European methods along with butchery methods developed in Europe called Seam Butchery. There is lard that you buy in the store and there is lard that you buy from a farmer down the road then there is the lard we produce from pigs fed for that purpose and there is NOTHING like it anywhere.

Guest's picture

There was a comment about trying to use Wild Pig or Feral pigs. Keep in mind the wild feral kind can have lots of weird diseases including several different types of worms. I actually raise pure Wild Russians and they taste awesome. The meat is much darker and more red than anything you have ever seen. As for lard though...the only thing fat on a Wild Pig is the tail, the snout, the ears. They are nearly 99% pure meat. We have not been able to get enough lard from a Wild Pig to cook anything with.

However, if you want REAL Lard and tons of it...get a Meishan pig from China. The pig is 88% fat and 12% meat. But the lard renders into the most pure white lard you have ever seen. It is raised in the highlands of the Chinese Mountains and was bred specifically for its lard to be used for cooking, grease on wheels, fires, heating etc. It looks like a big Chinese Sharpei Dog only lots lots bigger.

Guest's picture

I was just curious as to how lard was made and saw the comment that lard is healthy so I had to leave a comment. I am sorry, but there are no health benefits to lard (just because a food has Vitamin D, doesn't make it healthy; standing out in the sun also provides Vitamin D). Chopped up cooked animal fat is not good for you! Yes there are other fats that are probably worse, but you are not going to find any research or literature that talks about the benefits of lard.

If you really want to learn about fats, I recommend the book, Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill by Udo Erasmus, PhD

Lynn's picture

It has less saturated fat, more unsaturated fat, and less cholesterol than an equal amount of butter by weight, and unlike many margarines and vegetable shortenings, unhydrogenated lard contains no trans fat. It has nourished people for thousands of years, back to the beginnings of our species.

In the time in which I have switched to using butter, lard and coconut oil for my cooking from vegetable oils (excepting olive oil), the measured occlusion rate in my heart (the amount of blockage in my heart) has gone from 8% to 4%. Eight percent isn't bad; 4% is almost ridiculously low for an American woman my age. I've also lost more than 50 pounds.

If you want to learn about fats, I'd suggest the Weston A. Price Foundation. In fact, here's their analysis of Udo Erasmus's work.

Guest's picture

I have to agree with Lynn. I have run into several people with the exact same outlook on lard almost word for word. I am sorry to say but your plain mistaken and Udo Erasmus was a salesman.

Polunsatured fat is bad for you and if a pig is fed pure corn their fat is yellowish and brown and goes rancid in but a few days. US pigs cannot be aged for any reason because it is not of the correct chemical composition to be aged. Iowa State brochures even state right on them when they mention aged ham.."Do not Age pork." That is because we feed our pigs all the wrong things. Why is it that they have been aging pork in Spain for over 500 years? Italy for over 300 years? But we can't here in the US? It is because we feed our pigs the WRONG feed...corn. We feed it because it is cheap and plentiful. Pigs grow fast on it but now the pig makes harmful fat for humans to consume.

We want a monounsaturated fat that is high in good colesterol and low in bad colesterol, high in omega 3's just like olive oil. This also makes the pork ageable or gives it the ability to be aged and then slowly break down the amino acids as opposed to US corn fed pork that the amino acids break down in just days. You can actually SEE the difference in a pig fed corn and a pig fed the way we do it. Our carcass is almost pure white while a US confinement hog is yellowed and brownish. See, we feed them just like they do in Spain and Italy...we feed them acorns, rolled barley, rye, canary grasses and alfalfa and lastly peanuts, whole in the shell.

This makes the finest lard for cooking and french chefs and others seek this out because it makes the best pastries in the world.

One famous Italian chef I spoke to last week stated, "We NEVER let our pigs eat corn or soybean products, they never even get close to it in our country."

You can also tell the difference when handling pork fat. The White stuff melts at room temperature in your hand while the other lard is stretchy, sticky and nasty with a greasy feeling. Our lard can be sliced into very thin slices and is never stretchy and gross.

There is a lot of information out there about the benefits of good pig lard and how close it is to olive oil and its benefits. When the pig is finished properly it has these qualities. Not to mention the fact that when cooking bacon with the fat on it tastes unlike ANY pork you have ever eaten anywhere.

Lynn's picture

Exactly so. The fat in my freezer waiting for rendering is white, white, white. I buy my pork half a pig at a time direct from farmers who feed properly. To those who say, "I can't afford that," it works out to about what it would be at the supermarket--or less, especially if you take the offal and the fat.

Don't eat any lard from a supermarket shelf. Don't render supermarket pig fat (like you'd find any on the cuts they sell). Don't eat any supermarket meat, in fact, if you can possibly find an alternative. Supermarket meat is fattened on corn. If you prefer corn-fed flavor/texture, fine, but you're hurting yourself and your family. You have to die of something, but why die younger than you have to?

Buy your meat and eggs DIRECT from family farms if you possibly can (keep chickens if you can for eggs and entertainment in one pen). One source:

I am passionate about this issue. Watch Food, Inc., King Corn, and Fat Head, and you might become passionate about it, too.

Sheila Atkinson's picture


I have been reading with interested all the comments on lard. I purchased leaf lard for my pie crusts. My mother, from Germany, wanted to make "schmaltz" which they used to spread on bread. She used my leaf lard, but it wasn't the right kind of fat. Do you know what kind of fat from the pig is used to cook down to make "schmaltz?"

Thanks for your help.


Guest's picture

Schmaltz is not rendered from pig fat, but chicken or goose fat.

Guest's picture

Yes, you hit the nail on the head every time. Don't buy from a supermarket if you can help it. You know...animals are pretty good at telling you the truth. They don't lie very often. But when you take supermarket hamburger and put it in front of a dog and the dog won't eat it and you put some of my fresh hamburger in front of them and they devour it like they never ate...what does that tell you?

How about hydrogenated butter? Did you know that if you take a spoonful of Country Crock and a spoonful of sweet cream plain old butter with two ingredients off the shelf and put them in front of an ant hill the ants won't touch the Country Crock...but they will make quick work of the real butter. Imagine...your putting that crap in your stomach and even ANTS are smart enough to realize that they cannot digest it. Hydrogenation adds a molecule but makes it a product our human bodies do not know how to digest.

I have never touched Country Crock or Hydrogenated butter ever again since my ants would not eat it.

Can you imagine how bad it must be if a dog or ant won't eat it but we are eating that stuff every single day and being told that it is healthy and nutritious? I have bread from hostess that has sat on the shelf in the pig barn for 3 weeks and did not get mold on it. That scares the heck out of me...

Guest's picture

I have a couple things to say, but first, I have been saving used bacon grease in the back of the fridge for a while now. Not quite sure why!?!? Well today I made tamales and I didn't want to use shortening and I didn't want to wait and find some lard cuz that's what the recipe called for (props to Alton Brown, Food Network). Found a use for the bacon "lard". They're incredible, try it! Second, all those people who say anything is bad for you, get off your high horse and don't worry about it, my food is to good for you anyhow. You only live once, food is supposed to taste good. Food police suck.

Zillah's picture

Hi Lynn and fellow lard enthusiasts,

I just wanted to add a couple of things to the lard discussion.

Firstly, we've started mincing the pork fat through a hand mincer and it renders down to an incredible amount. Far more efficient than chopping, even quite small. However, I must add a caveat that mincing it is a bit of a palaver, because you have to keep the mincing wheel free of gunk every now and again. But we think worth it.

Secondly, those scratchings which are left over can be used in place of suet for suet pudding or pastry. I realise this is probably mainly useful for British readers, as I suspect there's not a big tradition of suet pudding in the US, but I could be wrong! In Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods, she mentions using them to flavour Johnny Cakes. Anyone got a good recipe? We don't really do Johnny Cakes here.

We're taking delivery of half a pig from an amazing pig-rearer next weekend. Time to bring out the mincer :)


GuestJudy Duff's picture

Is lard at this point good for making soap???

Thanks for any help!!

Lynn's picture

If memory serves (consult a good soap-making manual for certain), any fat works. But I wouldn't waste good cooking fat like that. For my money, tallow is a better bet and isn't as versatile a cooking fat.

Guest's picture

Currently I am embarking on a business endeavor, I hope to sell fried foods and I want to be healthy, tasty, organic and as 'green' as possible.

I was kicking around the idea of frying in lard, but I'm not sure that it makes sense, from an economic standpoint. I'm not so focused on the bottom line that I would fry in an unhealthy fat, but the basic laws of economics would destroy a business with prohibitively high prices, especially since my target market is college kids. . .who typically don't have too much extra cash.

Anyway, I'm looking for large scale producers of good lard AND information on frying with it.

Especially the smoke point, and if it can be filtered and reused like some other oils, or if I'll need to get rid of it at the end of the day and start with fresh the next.

Any help would be greatly appreciated and if this gets off the ground I'll send you a sample!



Lynn's picture

I'm so sorry it took this long for me to get back to you.

Honestly, I have no idea where you might find a commercial source of good quality lard at a price point to make yourself viable. Your best bet is to render it yourself, and I'd bet if you talked to some custom butchers you could get a good price on the unwanted pork fat and just render it yourself.

If you're going to be running a frying operation and lard turns out to be unviable, consider non-hydrogenated palm oil, or non-hydrogenated coconut oil. Both are superlative, very good for you and fairly inexpensive.

Guest's picture

Some good friends of our raised 6 hogs and let us have one of them. The meat and 20 lbs. of fat were delivered today and I can't wait to render some lard! Thank you for the article.

Mamic's picture

I sure wish I could meet people like you in real life because I pretty much hide from people the fact that I eat real lard, not because I am ashamed, but because I can get quite angry with people for not respecting my dietary views. What's funny is that if a person is a vegetarian everyone seems to respect him/her, but if one is a meat eater people automatically assume we need some dietary advice. My friend seemed to assume that I needed some advice about how I could substitute my sources of iron in my diet for sources that contain no fat, since I am pregnant. I got really angry about it. A new friend of both of ours is a vegetarian and I never once said anything to her about changing her dietary views, and neither did my friend, but why don't people understand that some of us feel just as strongly about carnivorous diet as they do about a vegetarian diet?

What's funny is that everyone I know of who thinks red meat, butter and lard are bad for you, is overweight, yet I am slim. What's also funny is that these same people eat things that are far more questionable by any means, such as Crisco, white flour, sugar, and margarine. They also have lots of health issues, I have none!

White flour has nada when it comes to nutrition, and need I mention sugar. Yet these people feed their kids suckers and hot dogs all the time, which hot dogs are a processed meat with a bunch of corn syrup in them.

What kind of hypocrisy is this people?

Anyhow, on a lighter note, I just called Whole Foods Market after reading this article and found that they will give me five pounds of pork fat every time I call, for free. I asked about their pigs and she referred me to this farm:

I was buying fresh rendered lard in the plastic containers found in the refrigerators at the Mexican stores. I am not sure where their pigs come from and would like to buy larger quantities anyway.

Guest's picture

I RARELY read an entire webpage as I get bored with the unneccessary comments. However, I was pleased with everyone's input and the fact that the conversation stayed on track. I received some lard from our local grocer. They do have well educated butchers and I was quite pleased to get clean lard. My only mistake was that I only got a small amount.

I'm still rendering it for the benefit of giving it a first try (still cooking). What really got me on the road to making real lard was that I made scotch pies and they specifically state that for the pie to be truly considered a scotch pie, the crust must be lard based. Thanks for the great article and the super imput from various guests.

Guest's picture

Someone had asked earlier how much lard you could expect to get from rendering vs the amount you started with. I thought I had started with too low of a quantity (1 1/4 lb) of pork trimmings. I followed the suggestion to cut the pieces up into 1" cubes.

I'm also delighted to say that I rendered about a pound of lard form the 1 1/4 pound of trimmings. I cooked off the fat on low heat (gas stove) for about 2 hours stirring occassionally. I strained the liquid into a jar and will allow it to cool. I wasn't raised on the remains (although I did taste them) so I chose to discard them.

Again, thanks for the great article.

Wayne 's picture

We slaughtered out home raised pig today and I'm rendering the very white lard as we speak. We raise a lot of our own food, and intend to raise more. I agree wholeheartedly the health benefits of animal products are directly related to the proper feeding and care of that animal. Many people feel that all fat is bad, or that all animal fat is bad. I don't think that is entirely true-the Inuit used to eat a nearly 100% fat diet and heart disease was unknown until "modern" foods were introduced. There are tons of snake oil salesmen selling this diet or that exercise regime, etc. A positive outlook, loving family, good friends(even just one or 2), food raised with a due degree of concern, and a moderate degree of exercise are enough for a person to realize their full measure of life. I was happy to read this article and though it was a fair evaluation of the uses of lard. I'm going to try "wet rendering" of lard this time around too. Old or lower quality lard goes into our lard candles.

Jill C's picture

I got about 20 lbs of lard from my MIL, along with some really tasty pork, and I have wanted to make lard from it. Do you know if lard can be canned rather than frozen? I don't have a lot of room in my freezer, between my 25 remaining hand-raised hens, and the deer my husband shoots.
We wish we could meet you too. In fact, I wish several of us would go get MDs, so we don't have to lie, or face stupid advice in the doctor's office. Though I have to say the people who are trying to school you on knowledge of fat amuse me. But it might help to tell them that far from being dangerous, cholesterol is actually very, very good for you, and a vital nutrient. That blood cholesterol levels have nothing to do with heart disease, and that the standards for blood cholesterol levels have only gone lower and lower as pharmaceutical companies have more and more drugs to sell, and that yes, you are comfortable saying that since getting an MD doesn't require any training in nutrition, and they get much of their information from pharmaceutical companies.

Linz's picture

Hi! Thanks for all you do promoting good fats! we just slaughtered our pigs and made lard...the smell wasn't so bad, but at the end we have water on the bottom (yellowish) and a nice lard on top, but it kind of smells-isn't it suppose to loose the smell and be nuetral? We started with a bit of water, got it real hot and then slow cooked it in a pot until all the fat seemed to be out...but guess there is still water...any suggestions? is the smell a reason to worry?

John Guest's picture

We rendered about 12 quarts of lard last year from a pick that we slaughtered ourselves.
The afternoon of the day we slaughtered, we started rendering in two big Dutch ovens on the stove.
It took about 36 hours. I just kept ladleing off liquid and adding more chunks to the same two pots.
I filtered the ladles of liquid lard through a tea strainer directly into quart jars.
I put the canning lid and ring on loosely and set outside on the screen porch where it was cold.
The cooling down made a vacuum seal overnight, and then I tightened the rings down.
The yellow liquid lard turns snow-white as it cools, and the tea filter left just a tiny amount of sediment in each jar (hardly any, really) which settles to the bottom.
We have kept these only under refrigeration over the past 12 months, never frozen. We have three quarts left and they still taste great. Our friends tried canning and leaving in their pantry, and it went rancid.
We now use lard for everything that we used to use butter and vegetable oil for, except spreading on bread and mayonnaise making respectively.
good luck!

Guest's picture

I read your article with great interest and believe what you say about lard being good for our bodies. I haven't been able to find pork lard but a co-worker butchered a couple of cows which were mostly grass-fed except for the their last couple of weeks and sold me some of the suet. I promptly froze some and some I made into tallow which is what I guess its called (what I read above). Is this as good for the body as lard? I didn't see this in the discussion but if I missed it please point me to it, Thanks!

Frank's picture

I use a cast iron dutch oven to render my lard and suet, I buy my beef by the side so I can get fat easily.
What I do is pour the fat in cup cake papers. I refrigerate pan and the lard/suet overnight. The next day I pull the lard out and put in a gallon freezer bag in the deep freeze.
Anytime I brown meat I use a 1/4 piece. (I cook in cast iron.)

Mark's picture

I just started reading about making lard, and it sounds like a great idea. However, at the local grocery stores, the pork fat that is MOST readily available has salt in it. Is this usable or must I simply expand my search to get it unsalted?

JMBolles's picture

Great info on making your own lard. I made some in the past two days and it turned out great issues. Phasing my family into a whole foods diet. Taking out refined sugars will be the hardest since my husband really loves his deserts. Working on creating more recipes using maple syrup or honey. Any way....I am starting to use lard because of the vit. D content which i need to combat the chronic fatigue that i suffer from during the winter months.(I don't like to take pills and prefer finding "natural" solutions). AND IT IS BETTER FOR YOU THAN BUTTER, tastes great too. I am also sensitive to soy and am eliminating that from my diet too. You'd be surprised where you find it. READ LABELS!! In doing that you come to the realization to how many chemicals and additives there are in the foods we buy. YUCK!! No more!! Whole foods is the way to go and LARD is on my list!!

Zev's picture

Thanks so much for this post! We just got a bunch of fat from our supermarket butcher for free, and want to practice making lard before we get the good stuff. I've read a couple of recipes, but none of the others involved a dutch oven! I'm excited to try this one.

Jill C's picture

I procrastinated as long as I could but this past weekend I finally took my bag o' pork fat and turned it into lard. It didn't go quite as expected. It was super bowl sunday, and I had a few hours between church and when we were leaving, so I figured I'd just get it done. But it didn't work out that way. I had about 4 or 6 lbs (I think) of fat that had been ground. After two hours, it was nowhere near done. So, I left it in the oven while I was gone watching the game at some friends'. When I got home, the house wasn't burnt down, but it still wasn't done. So I shut the oven off and went to bed. In the morning, I turned it back on, bumped the heat to 300 degrees and it still took about three more hours. I used a screen ladle (I don't know what that's called) and put all the chitlins' into a skillet and sauteed them for a little while, until they were crispy. They are quite small since the fat was ground, but delicious. I can hardly keep out of them, and the dogs LOVE them.
I wound up with 6 pints of lovely lard. I used it first to make a pizza crust, and even though I only used a heaping tsp for 2.5 c flour, it made a huge difference in the texture! Then I made my GF pizza crust with it (the kind you bake, then top, and bake again), and it was also greatly improved in texture! I have also used it to fry eggs, and my cast iron skillet loves it, and the eggs slide right off. It's amazing! I can't wait to use it in something else. I am keeping one pint jar in the fridge and put the other five in the freezer, though I may give some away to a couple of friends.
The smell wasn't bad at all - decidedly "porky", but not unpleasant. I will definitely be doing this again.

Guest's picture

I suffered from severe IBD for years, meds, diets, nothing worked, eating was a horrible experience, it caused intense pain, I couldnt leave my home if I did, couldnt even go out to eat because of my body reacted so fast to anything I ate, I was miserable. A couple of years ago I found a natural living/eating website, one of the suggestions was to eliminate oils from my diet, and substitute lard and real butter. It WORKED!!! :jawdrop: According to the site, the oils were acting like laxatives on my system. Up until recently I was buying my lard from the local farmers market, sadly the woman who sold it passed away. I tried the grocery store kind and ewwwww :sick: it was gross, it was like I had never had my stomach under control. So here I am, now if I can only find a local butcher willing to part with his pig fat, I will be a happy camper again.

Guest's picture

Thought I'd put this out for all the lard lovers... . I am from southern Germany (aus dem schwaebischen) where "Griebenschmalz" is eaten on bread, so if you are making lard, make some of that and be ready for a treat: for each 1kg (2.2lbs) of pork fat, once the pieces get golden yellow as you are rendering add 4 (slightly tart peeled etc)apples and 4 onions, both finely minced. Keep cooking until they turn nice and brown and do stir occasionally. Season to taste with salt and (traditionally white) pepper and pour into jars. As it cools you can stir to keep the solids from settling. This is mean on fresh dark homemade crusty bread by itself or under a strong piece of cheese... . Oh, I also like to put a few juniperberries in while the fat is rendering, some people also use a couple of whole cloves (do fish those back out before adding the apples/onions). And for the records, I have made this with bear fat, too and it tasted great, if not as "porky". Enjoy!

Mark's picture

Thanks for all the wonderful information! I have been trying to eat healthier, and make my own *insert food item here* for a few years now. I have been making English Pasties with meat and potatoes etc. using a 3-2-1 pastry recipe for several years now (3 parts flour, 2 parts fat, 1 part water). I normally use butter or lard, and was excited to try it with home rendered pork fat. I get pork trim from my local grocer for $.59/lb, up to $.89/lb, I gring it for sausage, but have been accumulating fat for a while and freezing it. My rendered fat came out white and creamy and beautiful. I put enough in the freezer for pastry because it works best very cold, but when I combined the usual amounts (3-2-1), I ended up with a soupy mess. Should I use less home rendered lard in recipes than store bought?
Thanks again!

Green Girl's picture

I remember hearing about lard when I was growing up, but never really saw it or used it. Even my grandmother, who grew up on a farm, used Crisco. I believe she was completely brainwashed by the American marketing machine.

I just read a post on Sustainlane about lard. Then I did a quick search and found your site with how to make lard. Thank-you! I plan on making it this fall.

Brian Porter's picture

I can't wait to share this article with my wife. She is going to have a heart attack, figuratively speaking of course :)

Schooner's picture

I have heard that aspirin is an effective antioxidant/mold inhibitor.

Adding two crushed aspirin tablets to a batch of lard could be one way to extend the storage life.

Has anyone tried aspirin in their lard?

richard's picture

I've been reading that the best biscuits are made with lard. I became curious about this initially thinking as others have posted about the horrid health effects this fat possesses. After reading more, my opinion is one that reflects Lynn's stance. It is what God has provided and not what man has created so it has to be good, right?. So today I purchased two sections of leaf fat from my area's butcher shop after their fall slaughter. They slaughtered 19 hogs in preparation for the Christmas hams they produce. I don't know of the farming habits of the particular hogs sent to market. They come from various farms in the area. The butcher has been around for years and I have purchased multiple sides of beef from them in years past. I only have about 4.5 lbs of leaf fat and it is about finished. The smell as stated is a bit rough but mellows as it renders. The lard is only hours old from the slaughter. I have a deep freeze and will keep the lard for up to a year. Hopefully my biscuits will be the best. They will go with my awesome sausage gravy.

Robert Harland's picture

Hello from this British lard-maker living in the Philippines. I was interested to see Frank's comments under 'Another Container Option'
(12/19/2010) about rendering suet. It's not available in the sunny Philippines, but I'd be interested in any tips on how to prepare it from scratch. Thanks a lot.

Jill C's picture

I used lard to make biscuits, twice, and once to make a pie pastry. My mom made the first biscuits, and hers turned out beautifully, and I made the second batch, which weren't as great. For some reason, my mom's rose much more than mine. It is possibly because she used half butter/half lard The pie crust turned out great, and was pretty easy, as long as I wasn't too picky about how it looked. I thought, for some reason, that the lard that I have rendered from the pork fat, and from cooking bacon, would somehow be too drippy to use effectively. But it wasn't, in fact, it is a lot easier to use than butter or shortening. The bacon grease just made the biscuits taste better, and it also went well in my pie crust, as I was using it to make a beef pot pie.

Joyce G's picture

Thanks Lynn for the instructions. There's several things that I didn't learn before my grandmother passed away and this is one of them. I live in Northeastern Kentucky and there are alot of our recipes and traditions that we have lost over the years and this is one of them. My husband and I normally buy a hog off a farmer in another area every year. This year we raised one ourselves. I didn't want to waster anything, including the fat. So, THANK YOU! :grin:

Baby Stout's picture

After reading this entire comment thread with fascination, I have a question on a subject I haven't seen mentioned (forgive me if I missed it somewhere!). As a girl who grew up in the Southeast, it has always been a typical part of my cooking routine, as it is for many other Southerners, to save the drippings from any cooked bacon for later use in making cornbread or simply frying an egg or whatever. Does anyone know about the health consequences or benefits of this? And does anyone know how long this type of fat will stay good just sitting out on the counter? We basically just keep a running jar of the stuff by the stove for use whenever we want to be "decadent", but I've always wondered at what point the stuff becomes rancid. It always tastes pretty great, regardless of how old it is. Am I just crazy for doing this? BTW, I DO generally use bacon that is organic and uncured, if that makes a difference in any responses.:-)

Lynn's picture

Bacon fat from properly-grown pigs is just as good as lard. I don't leave it out on the counter myself. I pour mine into an old tea tin that I keep in the fridge and just scoop some out as needed. Mine never goes bad, either, but that's because I use it up quickly. I can't give you a definitive answer on when it goes bad; you're going to have to use your own judgment. If you're concerned about it, filter the grease through a paper towel or coffee filter while it's still liquid, and then store the resulting grease in the fridge.

Guest's picture

I am new to all of this but decided I am done paying for "crap food" and want to get back to basics. My question on lard is this...once it renders and I filter it, will it taste like pork? Also you mentioned not using cooking fat for soap...where do I get tallow (and what is it)?

Sorry for being so ignorant on the subject...but I am willing to learn :D

thanks much

ElaineAnn's picture

I am so happy to have found this site. I am looking for a way to buy unhydrogenated lard but it's hard. I live in Iowa so you'd think it would be easy but it isn't. I raised 5 kids and 2 adults on an acreage that was practically self-supporting and we were all very, very healthy, eating naturally, raising and producing our own food.

I do have one question though - how did you get your arteries checked for blockage? What type of test - I would like to do this?

Steve's picture

Great information here! We've rendered Lard and Tallow for years and there's nothing like it. My family moved from the midwest in the mid-1800's and homesteaded here in the Pacific Northwest. We've continued from one generation to the next to raise our meat and vegetables and I have been so fortunate to have learned how to raise and keep food as has been done for generations. One of the things my grandmother complained about was how hunting seasons didn't allow her to get the good late Spring fat from deer. She also always got her pork fat in June or early July because she felt the summer heat caused off-flavors. I've noticed that the fat often does have a bit of yellowish color in late summer so stick with her advice. I have no scientific evidence of this but the more I learn about all of this stuff the more I learn that they knew what they were talking about.

Sam in PDX's picture

Hey! The basic recipe in the 1973 Joy recommends using leaf lard as half the fat, but doesn't say anything about rendering it first. Opinions?

Love the thread!


p.s. Are you still able to get whey-fed pigs? They sound divine!

clickhere4dawn's picture


I wanted to thank you for the easy recipe, the great information and the encouragement to try lard. I made my first batch to make a friend "old fashion" molasses cookies. I had everything come out great.

My question is are the cracklings suppose to be crisp? Perhaps I didn't "render" enough - I put them in a plastic bag and put them in the refrigerator. Should I put them back in the oven to cook longer?

Lynn's picture

But sometimes they're not. If they don't come out that way, you need to cut the pieces smaller next time. You can always fry them up like bacon and see what happens. :)

amymac's picture

Can I use lard in my deep fryer? If so, do I store it in the deep fryer (in fridge or in cabinet/pantry) AND can I use it more than once to fry, say chicken, if I strain it?

You mentioned to use it within one month. Really? that just seems like such a short time with so much expense going into making the lard.

Lynn's picture

Yes you can deep fry with it. I don't have direct experience with doing it, but I can imagine you'd strain it and reuse a couple of times. I'd refrigerate it if it were me.

As for using it in a month, I've never had it last that long. :) And you can freeze it, remember.

Guest's picture

You have never eaten real Southern corn bread until you've eaten cracklin' bread. And put no sugar in it. No no no.

Jeanne's picture

Thanks for all the great information! I'm looking forward to making my first batch of lard. I'm going to use a NESCO cooker. Do you have any advice on using one for this purpose?

For the person looking for lard to purchase - I found this link on my way here. It's pricy but it's not hydrogenated, so it'll be worth it in the long run!

Jill C's picture

I just rendered a batch of lard with my Rival Crock Pot, on the low setting. I did use water.
I am quite unhappy, the lard seems "burnt", but the chicarones are mushy and need to be refried, but then they taste burnt as well. I am quite sad, as I did about a gallon, and I was going to give it to a friend whose husband has mouth cancer and can no longer swallow. She says she is feeding him about a stick of butter a day... I'll see how it tastes once cooled, but I don't think I'll use this method again.

Guest's picture

THANK YOU for addressing the fact that "North American culture is so fat-phobic we demonize some of the very foods that are best for us, and among those foods is homemade lard." Very, and sadly, true.

Sally Ellestad's picture

I am a little late. haha. I have been using the fat from our pigs for soap and other items. I started eating healthier about two years ago. Each week I add something new to my hobby of eating. I looked in my freezer and saw bags of fat from a pig. HMMM??? I wonder how good this stuff could be. I have a bag thawing. I will let you know if I am successful. Thank you for taking the time to write this article and share your experiences.

Frogmore's picture

They were from (she) Hungary and (he) Czecholslovakia and made a pork fat product called Saluna where they took the very fattiest part, cured it in sweet Hungarian Paprika with some other spices and hung it in a cool dark place. When done, we sliced it into what the French would call lardons and ate them with a bit of rye bread. My mouth waters for it just thinking about it.

We also would take a hunk of slab bacon, thread it on a long skinny stick and hold it over a campfire. Then when the fat began to drip, we'd quickly sop the drippings up with rye bread topped with finely chopped green onions. We'd do this until either the bread was dripping or the fat was no longer dripping, whichever came first. Then we'd cut up the roasted lardon, sprinkle it over the grease bread, add a bit of salt and eat it. It was wonderful!!! They called it something like jzedush kenyed in Hungarian, and I'm sure I have the spelling of that wrong cause I can't find that spelling anywhere online.

Then there's the South American mofungo. You haven't lived until you've eaten that. Yum!!!

Guest's picture

My recipe calls for 6 tablespoons of Lard, I do not have it so what would you suggest I could use a place of that?


Kitty's picture

Hi there - I'd recently joined the "Real Food Challenge" and have eliminated almost all types of processed oils from my pantry.

Since we are living in China now, it's quite easy to find pork directly from the butcher. I had fun rendering my own lard the traditional Chinese way, which I'd watched my grandmother doing when I was 8-9 years old.

Actually, she'd put the fat cubes directly on a medium heat wok without any water. As someone mentioned above, the lard is ready when the cracklings are well done.

My son now loves cracklings as a crunchy snack - I may try making "chicharones" once in a while. Great post :D

Robert Harland's picture

Praise the lard

By Robert Harland

Yes, I’m out of the closet and have to confess. I cook with lard.

For years lard has been considered a silent killer, but today its really bad public image is being questioned.

In the last few decades we’ve been taught to fear lard so much that you could be forgiven for thinking that eating it was the leading cause of death. But many scientific minds are now re-thinking lard.

Some believe the advice we’ve been getting for so long has been wrong. We’re told to eat as little fat as possible, but American science journalist Gary Taubes quotes US government figures showing that nearly half the fat in lard is monounsaturated and this lowers our bad cholesterol and raises our good cholesterol.

“If you replace the carbohydrates in your diet with an equal quantity of lard, it will actually reduce your risk of having a heart attack,” claims Taubes.

This is good news because food cooked in lard is a lot tastier than food cooked in vegetable fats or oils. My British ancestors had no trouble recognizing its virtues. So central was it to our diet that the room where we stored our food, the larder, was named after it.

Our grannies, who mostly cooked with lard, knew that its great strength was that it coaxed out the flavors of foods.

With its high smoking point and unobtrusive taste, Lard was the ideal fat for roasting, so our grannies roasted potatoes in it. Today, many cooks are starting to use goose and duck fat. This is sold in fancy jars at great expense. But many of the same cooks will not consider lard. Perhaps because the packaging is not sophisticated enough.

And then there’s the name. Lard is hardly romantic. So, what about re-branding it? Pig butter might be a good start.

In Britain, consumption of lard has dropped from 55 grams a week to a mere five, but it’s on the increase. Although lard is readily available in UK supermarkets, it’s highly processed, often hydrogenated and treated with bleaching and deodorizing agents.

It’s not sold in Philippine supermarkets and, in any case the best lard is home-made. I’ve been making my own for several years by rendering pig fat.

This is an easy process. Buy a load of pig fat from a butcher. Cut it into one inch squares, put a quarter of an inch of water in a heavy pan – this stops burning – place the fat in the water and put the pan in a hot oven. After two hours you can pour pure pig fat into a bowl. You can freeze it and it’ll keep for a long time.

Some eminent chefs such as Scotsman Jeremy Lee of London’s Quo Vadis restaurant are great fans of lard especially for roasting potatoes and in pastry. “Lard is up there with goose and duck fat – it’s a very sophisticated ingredient,” Lee says.

Lard was once the fat of choice in many countries. Sadly, its use went into steep decline when it was branded as a health hazard by nutritionists and doctors.

The jury is still out, but it seems lard is enjoying something of a revival.

On a personal note, my very active mother, who was brought up on lard-cooked food and who still occasionally uses it, will celebrate her 92nd birthday in February. And to mark the occasion, perhaps she’ll be celebrating with a tasty full English breakfast cooked in lard.

Guest's picture

My husband was able to get a good amount of lard from a local farmer. It has been refrigerated for two weeks now. We were unable to render it during this time. Is it safe to do it now or has too much time passed?

Steve's picture

Since you had it refrigerated you should be okay as long as it hasn't turned rancid, which you can tell by smell (kind of a strong bitter, acrid smell to me). If you've ever had crisco or oil in a deep fryer go bad you'll know the smell. That's pretty doubtful, though you didn't mention how fresh it was when he got it from the farmer. Bacteria won't be a concern at all since the rendering process will take care of any but when oils or fat go rancid there's a chemical oxygenation process that occurs that produces cancer causing chemicals that don't process out. I'd be really surprised if it has gone bad.

Guest's picture

I bought pig fat from organic pig farmer and rendered it on stove top for about 20 minutes. I tried this on two different occasions and both times lard was dark and was bitter tasting. I stained cracklings out and refrigerated. What am I doing wrong. Don't want bitter taste. Thank you, Roger Dale

Jill C's picture

You cooked it too hot. I tried rendering lard in my oven at 325 just to speed up the process a bit, and it was scorched. The lard itself does tolerate a fairly high heat, but the solids (cracklins) do not, and it affects the taste and color of the lard. You are better off putting the fat in a heavy pan in the oven at 275 - 300, depending upon your oven, and you will have a very nice product.
My mother had good success putting her oven at 290. I will try that next time.

Steve's picture

I've had lard that I rendered have a bitter taste because of what the pigs were fed. I raised some several years ago and let them run in about an acre of brush that I wanted to clear and ended up with an off flavor of the meat and lard because of the stuff they ate that grew near the creek. My sister recommended that I slice some potatoes and deep fry them in the lard so the potatoes would absorb the flavor and it really worked well. I could still taste it slightly, probably because I was looking for it, but no one else could and it still made great pie crusts and so on. That was my only experience with it but it might be worth a try.

Guest's picture

I remember as a child (the sixties)reading the ingredient list on cake mixes and the few available pre-made and packaged foods where there was no hydrogenated anything or preservatives, nasty chemical substitutes for flavor and color because the people back then would not accept it. Until the big food companies convinced the government since the rats didn't die it must be ok for people to eat and threw out all the good and we ended up with the "bad". All the time I was growing up, we canned and pickled everything we grew. I had never see a "yellow pickle" or had to have a dictionary to find out what was in our food. I raised my children to never eat anything they could not pronounce or wonder what it really is. People get frustrated with me became I'm so picky but healthy. My best friend's mother who was from Germany, always rendered lard and we would be waiting for the wonderful tidbits of heaven she would scoop from the fat. She was also one of us that didn't buy nasty junk from the stores but made it herself. I see a small trend getting bigger with all of us unwilling to buy crappy foodstuffs from the chain stores gathering more and more momentum back to "REAL" food finally. I love my children, grandchildren, and dogs more than to buy unreal nutrition robbed stuff they call food in the stores. I love knowing anything I provide for them will not harm them, including appropriately raised amimals and their fats. Julia Childs lived a very long fairly healthy life by eating everything good in moderation.

KellyK's picture

My husband and I only recently (Feb 2013) moved to a VERY small acreage, not quite 4, and I am determined that we are going to do MORE healthy eating! We purchased a miniature jersey heifer and will breed her next month for the calf and the raw milk, the fresh made butter (did you know that "margerine" has a chemical composition that is only ONE molecule off from PLASTIC??) and honest to goodness CREAM (NOT that stuff that . . . well, nevermind)

Well, I was looking through CraigsList and noticed that there were 3 or 4 different ads offering PotBelly pigs for free, just come get them . . . so it made me think, hmmm is a pig a pig a pig? And if so, could they be butchered and eaten? Well, long story short, one blog had a great comment, that IF it was a PIG and any pig could be eaten. Another comment was that the PotBelly pig they slaughtered was soooo much fat that there was very little meat. . . THEN I found YOUR article - WOW - so I'm thinking, if I get these little porkers, feed them natural grown, sprouted fodder, raw milk and the good stuff, then when it is time to butcher, I should be able to get some terrific fat to render into lard .. . .

Does this sound right or is it just my wishful thinking??

Lynn's picture

So I can't provide much guidance, I'm afraid. Your little farm sounds wonderful, enjoy it!

KellyK's picture

Dear lady,

I guess I was just sooo excited to read your article with all it's terrific info on how to DO IT, I became carried away with asking you about the "steps leading up to" following your instruction. . . ;) sorry, my bad :)

Your article is exactly what I needed to see and read. I usually become frustrated by "How to" articles because it seems like they leave out one or more critical steps and frustrate my efforts to follow their instructions :? But yours walked me right through it and the terrific comments stayed right there with it, clarifying even further.

All that to say, THANK YOU, and if, after next May or June, you are in my area, stop by for some ice-cold, fresh raw milk, homegrown strawberries and real cream or a piece of home made cobbler with LARD crust.

I have my grandmother's old cookbooks (including the one she kept with her own hand written recipies) and when I saw they called for lard, I started looking for "how to" . . . and yours was the very best I found! Good job and thanks again.

Lynn's picture

This article is my claim to fame: it's listed on Wikipedia's lard page. :)

Guest's picture

I have a friend who came upon a free potbelly, he fed it for 6 months before butchering it because he doesn't have room for 'pets' in his barn. Most of the meat he turned to sausage, just because of the age of he pig, but he did roast some out. He also rendered te fat, in two separate batches for lard (and pastry lard). I can say that the sausage was good, didn't get any roast. And the 'regular' lard is fantastic! It's inspired me to source up our own fat supply so I can render our own.

Guest's picture

Some one asked about bacon fat. I too, store mine for use at a later date. I use it how my grandmother did: frying spring greens, most notably dandelions, but wild leeks are yummy, too. Or for "grease" to cook home fries or eggs in for breakfast. My favorite use is one that an old neighbor taught me. I call it depression salad. It was what she and her family ate during the summer in the depression era. Heat fat in your pan, quickly wilt greens and berries. My favorite is spinach and raspberries. The salty bacon fat adds a yum factor you wouldn't believe. Just my experiences. Thought I would share. And now I can't wait to try the real thing and render lard. Thank you all for your comments,and Lynn, for your post!

Guest's picture

Some one asked about bacon fat. I too, store mine for use at a later date. I use it how my grandmother did: frying spring greens, most notably dandelions, but wild leeks are yummy, too. Or for "grease" to cook home fries or eggs in for breakfast. My favorite use is one that an old neighbor taught me. I call it depression salad. It was what she and her family ate during the summer in the depression era. Heat fat in your pan, quickly wilt greens and berries. My favorite is spinach and raspberries. The salty bacon fat adds a yum factor you wouldn't believe. Just my experiences. Thought I would share. And now I can't wait to try the real thing and render lard. Thank you all for your comments,and Lynn, for your post!

Guest's picture

Some one asked about bacon fat. I too, store mine for use at a later date. I use it how my grandmother did: frying spring greens, most notably dandelions, but wild leeks are yummy, too. Or for "grease" to cook home fries or eggs in for breakfast. My favorite use is one that an old neighbor taught me. I call it depression salad. It was what she and her family ate during the summer in the depression era. Heat fat in your pan, quickly wilt greens and berries. My favorite is spinach and raspberries. The salty bacon fat adds a yum factor you wouldn't believe. Just my experiences. Thought I would share. And now I can't wait to try the real thing and render lard. Thank you all for your comments,and Lynn, for your post!

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