We made lard Tuesday night.
It's the natural thing to do. When you have a pig processed, there is leftover fat. Render it, and you get lard. (Actually, the raw stuff is called lard, too, so I'm not sure how one distinguishes the two.) Over the years, lard has gotten a really bad rap as a horrific, artery clogging, heart attack waiting to happen.
But, as with pretty much every other food that's been reviled for a time, it's back in fashion. An article in Food and Wine, "Lard: The New Health Food?" gives an entertaining defense of why lard deserves a comeback. I couldn't agree more.
In it the author, Pete Wells, talks about what food writer Corby Kummer had to say: "Lard, he cheerfully reported, contains just 40 percent saturated fat (compared with nearly 60 percent for butter). Its level of monounsaturated fat (the 'good' fat) is 'a very respectable 45 percent,' he noted, 'double butter's paltry 23 or so percent.'"
Keep in mind, however, that REAL lard is what you want, not the processed stuff you get at the supermarket, which gets hydrogenated vegetable oils and sometimes other preservatives to make it shelf stable.
So, for anyone who (a) likes good food and (b) isn't clutching a can of chemical, highly processed yet nonetheless nonfat cooking spray to their chest just reading this, here's how you make lard:
1. Get some good pork fat from a butcher:
2. Find a strapping husband or other willing accomplice to cut it up small:
3. Put it in a roasting pan in an oven and cook for many hours or try a tip you read about in the Encylopedia of Country Living and microwave some in a bowl for 12 minutes:
4. Strain out the "cracklings," or bits of meat that remain after rendering, and pour the hot liquid lard through cheesecloth into clean jars:
5. Seal the jars:
Easy. You have to read the article to learn about how fluffy lard makes biscuits, how flaky lard makes pie crusts, and how crunchy and light it makes fried food (in moderation, of course).
Or just come to my house and have a taste.
In other news, the goats are driving me crazy, although shortly after this picture was taken I managed to limit their free ranging somewhat. Until they outsmart me again.
The next best thing to lard in a jar is beer in a bottle. Batch number 2 is almost ready to drink:
I'm counting down the days. Next up: a honey wheat ale for the summer. My neighbor has already given me two pounds of honey from his own hives.
And, in between weeding and planting and hoeing the gardens and raised beds and cleaning out the goat house -- we finally had a non-rainy weekend, I had to make the most of it -- I also managed to update A Piece of Vermont Yarn and Fiber with some extra-fine merino top:
I named them after the seven heavenly virtues because the seven deadly sins seemed kind of harsh ("Sloth" is not a good name for spinning fiber) and because the Seven Dwarves didn't lend themselves to fiber as much as I thought. Who wants to spin "Doc"?
There are actually eight varieties in the picture, but I kept the one on the top left for myself. I'm almost done, but the color isn't right in this picture:
Now, I have to confess, as beautiful as the commercial merino top is, I'm partial to less-processed fiber. The closer to the sheep, the better. Which is why I picked up this yearling Romney fleece from a friend last weekend:
This one looks pretty special to me. Super-super soft. And the crimp seems especially fine for Romney:
Not that I'm complaining.
I just have no idea how scouring a fleece, brewing beer and continuing to make the most of the weather are going to fit into my short-term future. Especially with that job thing.
Which I need to go to right now.