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{HEALTHY RECIPES}

How to Render and Store Traditional Animal Fats

By Joanne Hay

Rendered fat can be used for frying, deep frying, basting baked foods, in pie crusts, straight on bread as well as in cosmetics. Animal fats were traditionally used in soaps and detergents. A much better option than palm oil which, grown in monocrops by big brother agribusinesses, is destroying rainforest, displacing thousands of native people and and endangering animals the world over.

Lard

Lard is very useful for pie crusts and other baked goods. Used before the vegetable shortening, it lifts the dough without making it greasy. Donuts were originally boiled in lard. It’s also great for frying eggs and sauteing vegetables.

Method 1

Preheat oven to 250F. Place 1lb of pork fat in an ovenproof dish. Add enough cold water to partially cover. Put in oven (or over very low flame) for 40 minutes, or until fat has melted, stirring occasionally to prevent it from browning or sticking. Remove from oven and strain through a cheesecloth into a heat proof container. Set aside. When fat has set into a smooth white shortening, remove from water (if any left), cover and refrigerate. Will keep for 3 months.

Method 2

Dice pork fat. Remove any meat and skin. Place in heavy bottomed pan and cover with water. Boil slowly until fat has melted. If water evaporates, add more. Pork lard will cook itself until it burns, leaving a strong taste which is not good for cooking.

Strain through tight weaved stainless steel strainer. Put in fridge. Fat will rise and water and impurities will sink. Remove fat from water and dry with a towel. Keep refrigerated or frozen.

The left over Pork rinds are nice in small doses with sea salt. You will find you’ll make too many for any family to consume so feed to a pet dog, birds or chickens.

Schmaltz

Schmaltz or poultry fat rendered with onions. It is ideal for baking or frying potatoes.

Method 1

3-4 cups raw chicken, duck, turkey fat and skins
1 medium onion, finely chopped

In a skillet over moderate heat, cook the chicken fat and skin pieces until the fat liquifies out and the solid pieces shrink and become golden
brown. Add the onion and cook until the skins and onion are very crisp and dark brown (but not burned). Remove from heat. Remove the crispy bits with a slotted spoon. Strain if necessary. Stir and let stand until cool, but still liquid. Pour into a glass jar or container and keep in the refrigerator or freezer. Will keep almost indefinitely.
Makes about 1 cup schmaltz.

The leftover crispy bits are called “griebenes,” and are the Jewish version of fried pork rind.

Method 2

Place about a cup’s worth of skin and fat, diced or ground small, in 2 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, and simmer, stirring frequently, skimming as needed, until the water has been reduced by half. Strain into a clean glass container. Using a wide-mouthed pint jar is great, as you can see about how much fat you’ve rendered out. Place in fridge. When the fat as set, remove it from the liquid, place in whatever container in which you’ll be using, and freeze. The liquid is now chock-full of collagen from the fat and skin, and should be nicely jellied. You can use it when making stock; it adds body and protein. Not much flavor though.

Method 3

When you make a stock from left over chicken bones sometimes fat rises to the top. Simply peel off when hardened from refrigeration and save in a separate container in the fridge. Use very soon or render it further by cooking it over medium heat until it stops bubbling ie. the water content has evaporated. It will keep longer this way.

Tallow

Suet is the fat from around the internal organs of a cow. It has nutritive properties that encouraged ancient peoples to prize it for fertility. It is used in foods such as Pemmican. The Fat from the rest of the beast is simply called tallow and is great for deep frying as it’s high saturated fat content makes it very stable.

Cut fat into small pieces. Render with or without added water. Since tallow has more saturated fat, you are less likely to burn it if not using water but cook on low heat and watch the process, it burns pretty quickly.

Tips

  • You can cut the fat into strips and store in the freezer before you render.
  • When rendering large amounts of fat, use a meat grinder, the minced fat will render quicker. Grind frozen fat or it will melt in the machine.
  • Pre-measure the rendered fat you store in the freezer in 1/4 cup sized blocks so you know how much you have for a recipe.
  • If you don’t want your house to smell like grease, render on a portable element or barbeque (with an extra element) outside.

Ghee

You’ll need:

  • Unsalted butter (organic if available)
  • a large sieve
  • 4 sheets of cheesecloth or muslin
  • a dry heavy-bottomed deep pot
  • a clean dry pot to hold the finished ghee
  • a clean glass jar with lid.

Melt the butter over low heat gradually in the heavy-bottomed pot. Do not stir.

Over low heat, cook until the butter is a clear golden liquid. It may bubble and foam may form on top which you’ll need to skim off and discard.

Remove from heat while the liquid is a clear gold. Any darker and it’s over cooked and not clean tasting.

Line the sieve with the 4 sheets of cheesecloth and place over the clean dry pot. While still hot, carefully strain the ghee through the cheesecloth-lined sieve into a clean, dry pot. Transfer the strained ghee carefully into the clean jar and shut tightly.

Ghee at room temperature looks semi-solid. It does not need to be refrigerated but always use a clean utensil to scoop out ghee for use.

Oh No! All that fat!

If the idea of eating all these animal fats freaks you out please read Lori Lipinski’s Take the Fear out of Eating Fat. Although Weston A Price found many different types of eating among many different cultures, for instance he found 50% to 80% calories from animal fats, he found that all non industrialised peoples ate the same portion of Fat Soluble Vitamins - 10 times more than their westernised counterparts. Fat from animals that have been eating fresh green grass in the sunlight is by far superior to fat from animals who’ve lived in confinement eating grains and sludge. To ensure you’re animal fat intake is the highest quality, eat only pasture fed animal foods.

Joanne Hay, Editor of Nourished Magazine, Chief Nourisher and Mother of three is very grateful to live in Byron Bay and be able to share all she has learned about Nourishment. She has trained as an Acupuncturist (unfinished), Kinesiologist (finished) and parent (never finished). She serves the Weston A Price Foundation as a chapter leader. She loves sauerkraut, kangaroo tail stew, home made ice cream, her husband Wes and her kids Isaiah, Brynn and Ronin (in no particular order…well maybe ice cream first).

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COMMENTS - 10 Responses

  1. 1. brei donald
    Nov 1st, 2007 at 10:02 pm

    thank you for these ideas. we’re lucky that the gold coast & northern NSW areas are fairly aware of traditional nourishing foods but i cant find organic (or at least pasture fed) lard anywhere. so now i can make my own! keep up the good work :)

  2. Brie, Miriam from Pasture Perfect Pork is the lady to speak to.

    http://pastureperfect.nourished.com.au

  3. Hi, I’ve rendered pork fat in a crock pot - just cut up and put in the pot, without water (takes around 24 hours on low setting), and leaves yummy crackly bits to nibble on in small doses. I just poured off the fat and strained it. It does have a bit of a baconey flavour though.
    Anything wrong with this method?

  4. Nicole, I’d say the bacony taste is some of the monounsaturated fat burning (carcinogenic?). Try the method with water and let us know if there is a difference. You should be able to make donuts or pastries with the fat without tasting it.

  5. When i was a child my great grande parents had a cold room in the house. the cold room was used for storing food stuff for the winter. i remember stone crocks full of renderd pork fat but i also remember that they stacked cooked pork chops in the fat from bottom to top. grandmother would dig out the meat, take enough fat to do her cooking, and smooth the fat down to get rid of any air. she would fry the meat to brown and we would have a great meal.

    does anyone know how they did that????
    patricia

  6. 6. Kait-jay Babi
    Sep 3rd, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    Rendered Fat is so fab and is used for so many things without killing the environment

  7. Thanks Joanne. Enjoyed reading that.

    @patricia - Doubt you’ll read this answer but your grandparents were preserving their pork chops via the confit method. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confit

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