Rendering Lard – Dos and Don’ts

We split a half pig with Addie and Drew and last time I asked, the butcher gave me more fat than I knew what to do with. I don’t think many people ask for it… This time around it was nicely wrapped and separated into the different kinds of fat (back fat, leaf lard, maybe something else.) I rendered it down using the same technique as last time. I tried to get fancy this time by cooling it in a 9×13 pan lined with waxed paper, which I thought would just pop right out of the pan once the lard was hardened in the refrigerator.

Nope. It was stuck, bad. I ended up having to set the pan in a bath of hot water to melt the fat on the edges to release it from the pan, and the whole this was a slippery mess. Eventually I ended up with nice, wrapped portions of lard, but it was an adventure getting there. I’ll need to figure out a better method for next year.

As always, the pie crusts made with lard are really amazing. I haven’t been that impressed with much else – I had high hopes for biscuits but they just tasted a little greasy. For some reason on a crust, the flavor backs off and the fat gives an amazing flaky texture. We made a leek tart right away just to confirm. Yep, still tasty and amazing.

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We’re having a pre-Thanksgiving potluck with the neighbors tonight and I decided to make a pie with the sour cherries we got this summer at Paul’s parents’ place in Wenatchee. If I had room to grow a cherry tree it would be this kind; super tart and really only good for baking or jam.

When I thawed them out a ton of juice drained off, and I realized that I could do a batch of jelly alongside the pie. We had everything we needed in the basement (including the obscene amount of sugar that goes into jelly), and besides the processing time, it only took about a half hour to make 8 cute little pints.

Plus this was my first lattice-topped pie. Alicia accused me of showing off and I won’t deny it.

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The last of the canning (hopefully…)

Alicia has been making applesauce like crazy with the bags of apples that we brought home from Wenatchee back in October, and we have probably 20 or 25 quarts so far. I kept saying that I was going to make some apple pie filling since we just used up our last batch, but it’s been busy. Finally last night the Venn diagram of motivation and time overlapped, and I canned 10 quarts of pie filling. It looks like a good batch this time around; I followed this recipe (mostly, and despite the Comic Sans). Blanching the apples after they were peeled and sliced seems like it helped keep the whole production from oxidizing too much, though I had to run the sauce through the blender to de-lump it before pouring it in the cans.

A week or two ago, I also made some apple jelly with rosemary, which is an amazing combination of flavors. Rosemary usually overpowers things, but with the apple, the flavors are perfect together. We received a jar of this jelly from someone a few years ago and loved it, but I can’t figure out who it was. If you’re out there, reveal yourself! At any rate, it is tasty, tasty jelly, and it’s all Hannah wants on her toast for the time being. Just take any apple jelly recipe, and add a sprig of fresh rosemary after filling the jars, right before you put the lid on; the rosemary flavor infuses the whole jar.

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