Today, I embarked on a project I had been putting off for quite some time. I tackled the fatback. Part of my hang up was I that I wasn’t entirely sure which was the leaf lard and which was the fatback. We have four pigs going to butcher in a few days and we still had a huge bag of these parts in the freezer. I read a seemingly clear explanation in a book Daniel’s sister had given him. Simply, the fatback in the very back of the pig and will still have skin remaining on it, and the leaf lard is the fat surrounding the kidney. Once I opened the bags and took out the parts it became very clear which was which.I started with the fatback because it’s not as delicate and precious as the leaf lard and in the end tends to still have some pork flavor, so in the case that if I overcooked it I wouldn’t ruin it, and the left the leaf lard for another day after some experimentation had occurred.
The book also suggested working with the fatback while it was cold or still partially frozen. So I took the fatback out of the freezer and immediately started working at it, the colder the better, right? This was not so. The knife got stuck, and I took a picture.I went and gave Daniel a hand with the project he was working on, sanding the beams in the ceiling of the bathroom, and when I came back the lard was ‘partially frozen’ and in a very workable state. I cut up the lard into smaller pieces and put them in our cast iron pan with a ratio of 1/3 cup water to 1 pound lard, and placed them in the oven, stirring and pressing the pieces of fat against the side of the pans to release more rendered lard. After about 3 to 3 1/2 hours, the remaining lard pieces began to turn brown and I knew it was done! I took it out of the oven and let it cool for a bit than strained it into pint jars.As I sit and write this, our one room is dim and warm with the wood stove, and our lovely little pint jars are cooling and turning a successful shade of white! The ratio turned out to be just over one cup of lard to one pound of fatback. In the picture above they are still warm and were a bit yellow, making me quite nervous! But as it turns out, it worked well and in the end was quite a simple process that just takes time and observation! I’m told the extra bits can be cooked down to cracklin’ or fed to the chickens. I’m sort of a fan of the latter, but we’ll see what happens tomorrow!