Appalachian Food Heritage Preserving/Canning

Rendering Lard

For years, Pap has bemoaned the fact that food doesn’t taste as good as it did when he was a child. While there are a multitude of reasons for the difference in taste-Pap decided the lard used to season or cook food with is at the top of the list. A few years back, Granny and Pap decided to make their own lard and see if it made a difference in the taste of their food-and they’ve been rendering their own lard ever since.

They get their hog fat from a local man who raises hogs. Typically the fat comes in big hunks-but this year for what ever reason the hunks had been run through a sausage grinder and came in big bags.

While Pap cooks (renders) the fat…Granny sterilizes jars, rings, and taps.

Then they drain the pieces of meat (cracklins) out of the liquid lard and pour the hot lard into the sterilized jars. After they attach the lid and ring to the jar-they sit it on the table to cool. Putting the hot liquid in the hot jar causes the lid to seal as the jar cools. Pap says when he was a child they would sometimes put rendered lard into large crocks and it kept well that way too.

This is what the lard looks like once it’s cooled-Granny says you know it’s good lard if it’s pretty and white. Granny and Pap use the lard in the same way you would shortening-to fry taters, season beans, make cornbread, biscuits, etc.

On one hand I think-they are using pure lard! But on the other hand I think they are using pure lard-it is pure. Have you ever read the back of a can of shortening-who knows what all those big chemical sounding names are.

Pap said one of his heart docs out at the VA hospital told him the lard they render themselves is much better for his heart than the kind you buy in the store-I believe the doc do you?



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  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    D-Thank you for the very informative comment!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia
    On Friday, January 10, 2014 2:18 PM,

  • Reply
    January 10, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    While home rendered lard is most likely better for you in comparison to store bought ( the chemicals they add are primarily to prevent it going rancid, but BHT= butylated hydroxy toluene. Toluene being a common solvent in oil based paints and paint thinners. Toluene is actually methyl benzene. Generally accepted as a known carcinogen.
    HOWEVER…. Lard composition is a direct reflection of the animals diet. If fed nothing but soybeans and corn the lard will possess the same fatty acids as the feed. If fed a natural diet, e.g roots, tubers, nuts, bulbs, greens the lard will possess the beneficial fatty acids of the feed. Of course hogs raised or harvested from free range conditions are MUCH more likey to carry trichinosis. Lard is not a problem as the prolonged high temp rendering will eliminate trichonella

  • Reply
    February 1, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    That looks SOOOO yummy. Where on earth can I find a bag of lard to render? I really want some jars of my own. 😉 I can just taste my grandma’s green beans and biscuits now.

  • Reply
    Chef E
    January 22, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    I wish I could find a private butcher in my area, I would ask for pig back so I can render my own too. I did get a good piece of pork fat back and sliced off the skin and fat (not sure they realized they had sold that piece like that), and rendered my own small portion and cooked a few things with it. It does make a difference. I use bacon now, have to season the skillet you know!
    I have to sneak it in though, hubby has high cholesterol, and he freaks if he thinks I am cooking high fat, like butter. I just pinch his stomach and say “baby go work off that extra inch”, and he is on the elliptical trainer, or treadmill like so fast, lol, its because I am about to cook something really good, and I can keep him alive a little longer and clueless 🙂
    He thinks I am the best cook, God love’em!

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    January 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm

    Tipper: I don’t know if this was a good idea. I used real butter and whole milk and ended up with a clogged artery. I think the lard would have made it happen faster. I now use no butter and 1% milk.

  • Reply
    petra michelle
    January 19, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Wouldn’t be surprised at all, Tipper! All those preservatives and additives in the store bought anything!

  • Reply
    Farm Chick Paula
    January 19, 2010 at 8:43 am

    I agree with Pap’s doctor…
    I think that even though lard isn’t exactly healthy- it has to be better for you than Crisco! And it really does taste better… I’ve had chicken fried in lard and OH LORDY that was the best fried chicken ever!

  • Reply
    Janet Pressley
    January 18, 2010 at 11:48 pm

    Enjoyed listening to your radio blog last night. I started to call in with a new thought for the word “haint”. I “haint” been to the store yet, but “himma” goin’.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Well, we know that lard tastes better. We know the pie crust is better with lard. I use shortening and vegetable oil, but wish I could use lard. We do use butter for baking though. We need to be more active to eat these foods.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    i use lard for pie crusts and its a must for the dough for pasties. it always is so flakey and light. i think it would be great to render our own lard…i just dont know where we would get the hog fat from. will have to ask mark about that. i have found there is a difference in the manufactured lards and i prefer the one in the white and aqua box…swifts stinks and tastes bad as far as i am concerned. bet homemade is awesome.

  • Reply
    Elizabeth Thomas
    January 18, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    My Grandmother always kept the grease when she fried bacon and used this to season the vegetables. When I married someone from NC his family used fatback, which I had never heard of. I remember during WWII seeing my mother mix a packet of dry food coloring into what looked like a block of lard and this was called margarine.

  • Reply
    Dan Myshrall
    January 18, 2010 at 4:28 pm

    I raise a few hogs every year, and though I have a slaughter house process them, I get the fatback & leaf lard. I render for a few days, can it all, and I’ve got all the fat I need for bread bakin’, greasin’, & fryin’ chicken for the year. Nothing compares to homegrown chicken fried in lard… wow, guess I know what I’m havin’ for dinner!

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    January 18, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    Yes ma’am, I believe it is all the chemicles used to process food now that is harmful to us. There ain’t nothing better than a good hunk of cracklin bread-right?

  • Reply
    Warren Meckley
    January 18, 2010 at 2:08 pm

    i used to think hardees had the best biscuits so i asked a lady who worked there what kind of shortning they used.she said i cant tell you but ill show you. she brought out a chunk of lard i was tickled to know my instincts were right.

  • Reply
    My Carolina Kitchen
    January 18, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    I agree that a pie crust made with lard is the best. I’ve never seen anyone make lard but I believe everything in moderation and it’s okay.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    I agree that homemade lard sure does make a difference! And some foods definitely need it for the pure real taste. I made tamales this weekend for my husband’s office, as they needed to be non-pork for religious reasons that meant vegetable shortening. Well they turned out well but would have been FABULOUS with home rendered lard, as I used to do when we lived in Texas.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2010 at 10:59 am

    I guess if your fat has been run through a sausage grinder, you don’t have the nice cracklins. That’s a pity. They are so good in cornbread, and we always looked forward to having them.
    Just when my fat was about finished, I put a tsp of baking soda in. It makes the cracklins float to the top and the lard snow white. I too think we’ve been sold a bill of goods by the big food companys.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2010 at 9:24 am

    I think maybe they do have us brainwashed today, lard used to be all they cooked with and my grandma, some of her brothers and aunt lived to be in their 90s. I think I’ve seen in a few places around here where they still sell the big plastic buckets of lard.

  • Reply
    January 18, 2010 at 8:45 am

    There was fat to cook in. End of discussion. How many kids today have ever seen livestock slaughtered? I have to say it did effect me but I am a girl.
    Let me ask you this- raw milk. Homemade cottage cheese. Did you family put the milk in the freezer to make it palatable to drink? But there is something about ‘curdling’ and cooking that milk into cheese that I have yet to find a substitute for.
    It’s illegal to exchange raw milk here in Virginia, unless you are feeding livestock. Yet there is an entire movement to promote the use of raw milk for human consumption.
    I just want cottage cheese. Not buttermilk. Not drinking milk. Just cheese.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2010 at 9:23 pm


  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    January 17, 2010 at 8:58 pm

    I have not rendered lard but have seen it done. The Deer Hunters Grandma Lura rendered the lard when they killed hogs. She put the fat in a five gallon pot and cooked it all day on a low heat. It looked kind of scary to me because the pot was full to the top—that’s a lot of hot grease. She did everything on a big scale!
    I have had cracklin cornbread several times and that is mighty fine eating!
    I’m with Pappy, I also think we had been sold a bill of goods as far as food and nutrition is concerned. I think the shortening, margarine, and vegetable oils are far worse for our bodies that butter and lard, assuming it is good butter and lard and not from animals pumped full of antibiotics and growth hormones!
    I heard the radio show that you co-hosted. You did a very nice job of representing us Appalachian folks. I’m so proud of you!!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    My mom always kept a crock of cold bacon grease in the fridge to cook eggs and grits in. Spry was used to fry donuts in and re-used many times … the good old days when no one cared what the fat content was! 🙂

  • Reply
    January 17, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    My Grandparents raised hogs. We also rendered it down.
    I used to cook with lard all the time. But I haven’t bought any in years. Maybe I should check in to finding a local who would be will to part with his.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    I bet the food does taste better cooked in pure, fresh, lard… making my mouth water right now! I am thinking about whether there would be anywhere to get the stuff around here!?

  • Reply
    Diane ( Crafty Passions)
    January 17, 2010 at 12:16 pm

    My great grandfather used it like butter on his bread !
    Have a great week

  • Reply
    January 17, 2010 at 10:55 am

    My mom used to cook with lard for practically every single meal. We had jars of it in the pantry. SHe would use store bought crisco for baking , but the “real thing” for things like taters and green beans. YUM

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    January 17, 2010 at 10:09 am

    We were talking about homemade lard just last night — and what good pie crusts it makes. It really looks as if a couple of feeder pigs are going to be a project for this year — after about a 10 year hiatus.

  • Reply
    Julie at Elisharose
    January 17, 2010 at 10:06 am

    How old are Granny and Pap? That should tell you something right there.
    I don’t eat lard or hardly any shortening either. I’m all about the butter, baby.

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    January 17, 2010 at 9:09 am

    I don’t use any lard anymore except when I just have to have it for flavoring beans etc…but
    I buy streaked meat or fatback and render a couple of teaspoons just to use in beans, greens etc…
    I grew up when my parents bought those old one pound blocks of lard..after they left the farm. They kept it in crocks or large metal pails…then they heard how bad lard was for you ? so they started using vegetable shortening…Now I only use safflower or olive oils even for my biscutes..and cornbread…Here’s what I do though..I sometimes melt a little bacon fat or rendered fat in the will flavor the bread.
    I think we were sold ‘a bill of goods’ back in the 50’s, 60’s ..and moderation is the key and I also think our processed foods are too full of chemicals and preservatives..that’s the danger!

  • Reply
    January 17, 2010 at 9:07 am

    I’m convinced we’ve been sold a bill of goods when it comes to food. I’m with Pap. In fact, when we come over for a meal, I want it cooked in pure lard. I use real butter too. Have a great week.

  • Reply
    January 17, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Your comment made me laugh about your feelings on using pure lard.
    I read an article in Food and Wine magazine a couple of years ago about using and rendering your own lard, basically the same results as your Paps with the same feelings as yours.

  • Reply
    Tracy Sparks
    January 17, 2010 at 7:51 am

    i agree, seen so many people around the world who eat locally as in from their backyard, their neighbor’s backyard and their kitchens and they are living well into their 90s. And they usually live in the mountains. slaughtered a pig, a young cow and lots of canning with my Macedonian family ( i am in the Peace Corps now) this year. and “render some lard” and yes the pita tasted supreme! …. glad to hear that in America these skills are retained.

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