Whatever Happened to Lard?
by Curt Kittelson, Seward Co-Op Meat & Seafood Production Supervisor
With Crisco branded in a clean blue canister as a healthful, good-for-your-arteries, digestive helper, what chance did lard have? Prior to Proctor and Gamble, German chemists, and hydrogenation, lard was as common as butter. People even ate lard sandwiches, based on the whole head-to-tail mentality that everything must be used. And today, the head-to-tail notion is back in vogue — as is lard.
I am a butcher. My dad was a butcher. I come from a long line of meat eaters. But do I eat lard? Yes. Because when antibiotic- and chemical-free fat from around the kidney (leaf lard) of a pasture-raised hog is put in a pot with a little water and slowly rendered, it is a beautiful thing. The resulting fat can be used for many applications in the kitchen.
Here at Seward Co-op, the Berkshire/Duroc pork we sell is some of the best pork to be found anywhere. Pastures A Plenty farm in Kerkhoven, Minn., supplies this clean protein from what I like to call “happy pigs.” Our staff renders the kidney fat and packages leaf lard in house. We also receive back fat from the same hogs and grind it through a coarse plate. For those who wish to render their own lard at home, the back fat is available in five-pound bags for $4.99 per pound. The leaf lard sells for $5.99 per pound.
I fry my eggs in leaf lard every morning. I use the same lard to keep my wife’s grandmother’s cast-iron pans oiled. Sure, I still use olive oil, but the Seward Co-op leaf lard is my go-to fat. I support my co-op, I support the wonderful folks at Pasture’s A Plenty, and I am using a healthier, clean fat, as opposed to a genetically modified vegetable fat coming from who knows where. There is less processing and no hydrogenation, versus what’s in the green box or the blue Crisco package. Maybe Grandma Alice was onto something, or she just knew a good thing when she used it.
Seward Co-Op http://seward.coop/coop/about
Address: 2823 East Franklin Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55406