What is Lard and How Can You Use It?
Lard, that’s right, you heard it! It’s not just a thing of the past or something your grandma used in her secret pie crust recipe. Lard has a rich history, and it’s making a comeback in the culinary world (Or, maybe it never left). So, if you’re curious about how to store lard, what it’s made of, or how to use it in cooking, you’ve come to the right place.
What Is Lard and How Is It Made?
Lard is a type of fat that’s obtained from pigs. It’s made by rendering the fat from the pig’s abdomen, and it’s been a cooking staple for centuries. The process involves melting down the fat and then straining it to remove any impurities. The result is a creamy, white, and delicious fat that’s perfect for cooking.
Does Lard Need to Be Refrigerated?
One of the great things about lard is that it has a fantastic shelf life. When properly stored, it doesn’t necessarily need to be refrigerated. However, keeping it in the fridge can help extend its freshness. If you use lard infrequently, refrigeration is a good idea to prevent it from going rancid. Just make sure to store it in an airtight container to prevent odors from the fridge from seeping in.
How Long Can Lard Be Stored?
Lard is pretty resilient when it comes to storage. When stored in a cool, dark place and kept away from heat and light, it can last for months. In the fridge, it can stay good for up to a year or even longer. And if you want to keep it for an extended period, you can freeze it, and it will remain perfectly usable for years. It’s like having a magic ingredient in your kitchen!
Is Lard Still Popular?
You might be surprised to learn that lard is indeed making a comeback in the culinary world. People are rediscovering the wonderful qualities of this cooking fat. It’s favored for its ability to create incredibly flaky and tender pastries, and it adds a unique depth of flavor to various dishes. So, yes, lard is trendy again, and it’s no longer just for your grandma’s recipes.
How Lard Is Used in Cooking
Lard can be used in a variety of cooking applications, making it a versatile ingredient in your kitchen. It’s excellent for frying, whether it’s chicken, potatoes, or even doughnuts. The high smoke point of lard makes it ideal for deep frying, as it can handle high temperatures without breaking down.
Differences Between Lard and Shortening
Lard and shortening are both fats used in cooking, but they have distinct differences. Lard is derived from animal fat, specifically pigs, while shortening is typically plant-based, often hydrogenated vegetable oil. Lard is known for its rich, savory flavor, making it excellent for flaky pastries and frying. In contrast, shortening is neutral in taste, which works well for creating tender, crumbly baked goods. Lard is considered by some to be a more natural option, while shortening is a modern invention. Your choice between the two depends on the flavor and texture you want in your dishes.
When it comes to baking, lard is a pastry chef’s secret weapon. It yields pie crusts that are incredibly tender and flaky. You can also use it to make biscuits, tarts, and cookies that have a delightful texture and flavor.
Lard is a versatile and valuable ingredient in the world of cooking. It’s making a comeback, and for good reason. Whether you’re making the flakiest pie crust or the crispiest fried chicken, lard is a must-have in your kitchen. So, next time you’re at the grocery store, consider picking up a container of lard and start experimenting with it in your recipes.