Paleo gold! Well..how about ivory? Whatever, its TASTY stuff that I’ve been trying to get my hands on for a while.
Yes, I know you can buy it at any grocery store around here. But did you know every can I’ve looked at in every store in three counties all contain “BHA and BHT” ? Do you have any idea what they are? Don’t feel bad, I’m kind of up in the air on it myself, but my thinking is this, “If Grandpa Cade’s lard didn’t have any in it, why should mine?” Plus, everything I read is wishy-washy on if its good or not. I’ll err on the side of caution on this one….They say it is added as a preservative, but lard is a shelf-stable product, and has been stored without any preservatives for centuries. Why use it now????
And while you are asking yourself “Why lard?” My response is that it’s a Paleo-approved fat! Though the Paleo Powers push the grass-fed sources, ANY lard is better than peanut or soybean oil…If Robb Wolf can stay skinny eating it, I’ll try it too!
And if nothing else…I can always use it to make soap….
The Rendering Process:
The hardest, most difficult, annoying, and silly part is where to get the fat. Growing up, we always had buckets of it left over, even after we rendered our lard. Literally BUCKETS of it. I have had a very hard time locating any locally, though. I went to every “butcher shop” in three cities, and hit a couple ethnic food grocery stores as well. All said the same thing, “We get our meat packaged and in quarters or primal cuts. We don’t do any butchering anymore”. Crap.
Then BlueTang turned me on to an option, the local grocery stores. Each has a butcher on staff, and each butcher has to cut and TRIM the meat so that it looks presentable to the customers. Trimming means fat. Fat is what I’m after…
I just happen to have an informal friendship (we both fish, therefore we lie to each other) with one of the butchers at a nearby Publix. After some small talk about fishing, I asked if there as any way I could get some pork fat trimmings the next time they did some cutting. Like magic, a door opened for me. Two days later, I had a total of 3.5 pounds of fat trimmings. “Ugly, greasy, heart disease on a Styrofoam platter”, my wife called it. She’s still mostly a non-Paleo believer…I think its just because she is unable to give up pasta. And pizza. Mostly the pizza.
I checked on it from time to time, and every 4 or 5 hours, I’d skim off the liquid and place it into a sterilized jar.Repeat this until you’ve turned the fat and strips of meat into crunchy pork rind-like bits. Mighty fine eating, AND Paleo approved!
As the liquid that you’ve drained off cools, it separates into broth and fat. The fat is what we are trying to get. To speed the process a bit, I put the jar into the fridge in order to get the fat more solid, leaving the water behind. Once it has set up, I’ll poke a hole into the fat, then drain out the liquid.
Finally, here is the object of my three month odyssey – lovely pure white lard. This has been quite the frustrating search. While I have been able to find suppliers online, nowhere locally did I had much success. However, I have since found several meat processors that will be more than happy to assist in my endeavors though, and now have a ready supply of pork trimmings.
Now to find that elusive manatee steak….
Aftermath: I started the process of rendering around 9am. At midnight that night, it was mostly done, but I left it over night to crisp up the remaining solids. BlueTang says when does it, he lets them get EXTRA crispy, and uses it like croutons -Paleo croutons! How could I not do the same? I did dust mine a bit with “Everglades Cactus Dust” for a bit of a smoky flavor. On 3.5 pounds of trimmings, I ended up with two pint jars of pure lard. I’m happy with the results. Very.
What a learning curve regarding our food chain this has become. Gone are the days of a butcher shop knowing the animal he sells across his counter. No longer do we have the option of a locally raised animal being sold through your corner grocery. Everything we get is pre-quartered then shipped in wrapped in Cryovac bags to a guy that just does the finish work of slicing and packaging. This isn’t always a bad thing, but without a corner grocer with a butcher, if the trucks stop rolling, no more steaks! A damned shame considering the amount of beef on the hoof we have here in Florida (over 1.2 million as of a 2009 study).
OK, I’m positive that some local would see the need and quickly resolve the situation. That’s part of the self-reliance we should ALL have.