Understanding Pork Fat: FAQs Answered

Understanding Pork Fat: FAQs Answered

Have you ever found yourself pondering the nuances of pork fat?

Well, you’re not alone.

Recently, I received an intriguing email from Linda in Bellingham, sparking a conversation about the different types of pork fat products offered by Alluvial Farms. Her curiosity prompted me to delve deeper into the subject, and I realized that many others might have similar questions. So, let’s unravel the mysteries of pork fat together.

**Ordering Process:** Before we dive into the fat facts, let's address Linda's query about our farm store. To streamline your shopping experience, we operate primarily through online orders. Once you place your order, you can conveniently pick it up when it's ready. Click here to check out our recent blog post for a step-by-step guide on navigating our online store.

**Types of Pork Fat:** Linda mentioned receiving three different types of pork fat products in her recent quarter share: Lard oil, pork leaf fat, and pork back fat. Let's clarify these distinctions.

-**Pure lard Cooking Oil:** - The lard cooking oil we make primarily from pork back fat, because our butcher will grind up back fat for us into 30# blocks, which makes it easier for us to render due to more surface area. We render in 150# batches, or about five 30# cases at a time. The main reason the butcher does not include the leaf fat in what they grind for us is that the leaf fat is pulled off the center of the pigs belly cavity and has a very thin membrane on it - which will disappear in rendering - but which makes it harder for the butcher to pass it through their grinder.

- **Pork Leaf fat:** This is the creamy, pristine fat that pulls in a sheet of the inside of the pig's belly cavity during processing. Because it pulls off in a sheet, as opposed to being cut off, it is less likely to have small bits of muscle in it as back fat.

Please note: our butcher has always labeled the "leaf fat" as "leaf lard." This is incorrect, and confusing, since "lard" only means rendered fat. It should be labeled as "leaf fat." We are working with them to update the terminology on their packaging. They do an amazing job otherwise. 

- **Pork Fat Back:** This fat comes from the back of the pig and may contain small muscle bits, resulting in flavorful cracklings when rendered. It's of incredible quality for cooking and baking. If you are a fancy baker, you may prefer the cleaner taste of leaf lard for certain recipes. I personally don't perceive any difference in the quality of the lard rendered from leaf fat and back fat. 

**Rendering Process:** Now, let’s demystify the process of rendering pork fat. Whether you're using leaf fat, back fat, or a combination of both, the steps are relatively straightforward.

1. **Preparation:** Cut the fat into small pieces to increase the surface area, facilitating the rendering process. You can even grind it at home for more uniform cracklings.

2. **Rendering:** Place the fat in a pot or slow cooker over low heat. Allow it to melt gradually, keeping a close eye to prevent burning. Strain the liquid to remove any impurities, if you want, and store it in jars for future use. Freeze jars to keep fresh until you are ready to use. At that point you can keep in the fridge between uses to help it last longer.

**Leaf Fat vs. Back Fat:** When it comes to rendering, you might wonder whether to separate leaf fat and back fat. While leaf fat tends to be cleaner, back fat can yield delicious cracklings. However, in my experience, combining them doesn't significantly alter the final product's flavor.

**Pork Fat options in a custom pork share** In a quarter, half, or whole hog custom pork share you do get three types of pork fat. I always give a gift jar of lard cooking oil. Then there are two options for the leaf fat and back fat. We can pack them in the share unrendered, for you to render at home, or grind into your home made sausage, or trade with a friend who likes this kind of stuff. Or you can also choose - for an additional processing cost - to take delivery of the back and leaf fat as already rendered lard cooking oil, and we will substitute the raw product with the rendered product. This will come in the form of the pictured 12 oz. glass jars. 

In conclusion, whether you're a seasoned chef or an adventurous home cook, understanding the nuances of pork fat can elevate your culinary creations. So, don't hesitate to experiment with different types of fat and rendering methods to discover your perfect flavor profile.

As for Linda and others like her, I hope this blog post sheds some light on their pork fat queries. Happy rendering and cooking!

Stay tuned for more insightful discussions and helpful tips from our farm. If you have any further questions or topics you'd like us to explore, feel free to reach out. Until next time, happy cooking!

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1 comment

This is really helpful! Thank you for sharing!


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