Rendering lard - so squishy! why?!!!

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Chickenpoopshoes

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So, I sauntered up the road the other day to bag six sweet, sweet kilos of finest grass-reared leaf lard from my very local pig farm. As usual I cursed my over-enthusiasm whilst sitting at the kitchen table later that day chopping half of it into tiny pieces before throwing the other half into the freezer to be dealt with another day.
Now, I have rendered tallow before, and I have rendered suet before, so I felt no concern when rendering lard BUT when I came to pour out my first lot of piggy-water I found that the lard was all squishy! I couldn't lift it off the water in a solid block like I had with the tallow and suet! I ended up having to shlurp a hole at one edge with a spoon to allow the water out whilst I held the lid on the pan tightly to avoid the lardy-slops from flopping out into the sink.
I have then added more water for the second wash and it is all in the fridge waiting to solidify a bit more to do the whole thing again tomorrow morning.
I am pretty sure this is the good stuff, as far as lard goes, so is it the right consistency? Is leaf lard really so squishy? Is it not hard at all? Th lard we buy in the shops for baking comes in a block!
 

DeeAnna

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Yes, lard is softer due to having more oleic acid than tallow. Commercial lard is hydrogenated to turn some of the oleic acid into stearic acid. That's why it's harder than home rendered lard. But even the commercial lard is a scoopable solid, while tallow is firm, even brittle.

Why are you rendering only the leaf lard? The yield of lard is a lot higher if you also include the subcutaneous fat. If the lard is not to be used purely for pastry making, most people render it all. Or render some of the leaf lard separately for pastry making and the rest for soap making and general cooking?
 

Anstarx

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Lard is softer than tallow by nature. Beef tallow has more stearic acid and lard has more oleic acid.
I use both commerical and home-rendered lard since raw lard is actually not so cheap here. My room temp is about 23-25c lately with AC on and my lard, which I kept in a large water bag, is like toothpaste consistency that I can simply squeeze out of the bag.
 

Chickenpoopshoes

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Ah, so it’s normal. Good to know. Does that mean that a lard/tallow mix would work well?
DeeAnna- I only asked for leaf lard so that is what they prepared for me. It’s a high-end farm producing fancy pork for posh London restaurateurs so I think much of the fat is left on the meat... certainly the loin we bought from them had a hefty slab of delicious fat over it. Made a killer crackling!!!! Yummy!
 

DeeAnna

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"...I think much of the fat is left on the meat ..."

Oh, that makes sense. I get it now. ;)

I often blend lard with tallow for making soap, if I have tallow available. My friend Renae sometimes gives me suet from her family's beef that I render, but otherwise tallow is hard to get.

I normally use more lard than tallow in a soap recipe -- anywhere from 3 to 5 parts lard to 1 part tallow -- but that's purely personal preference. Both make white soap. Tallow adds lauric and myristic acids so it's good to reduce any coconut oil (or similar "cleansing" fats) a bit to keep the lauric and myristic in your preferred range. Both make hard, long lasting soap, but a soap high in tallow can be so very hard it's brittle and can be hard to cut.
 

AliOop

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My recent batch of leaf lard was even softer than non-leaf lard. My first few batches with it are curing now, and I am interested to see if they feel any different than the regular lard soaps.

@Chickenpoopshoes can you ask the butcher to grind or chop the fat for you? Mine did, and it made the whole process so much less stressful. I have a bunch of unchopped beef fat in my freezer, and what's delaying me from rendering it is the necessity of defrosting, followed by ALL.THAT.CHOPPING. Ugh. If I can time it to chop while still semi-frozen, it will be so much easier. But good luck with timing it like that, since life always happens after I made my plans. So it would probably be fully defrosted by the time I would get to it, in which case, I'd be chasing the slimy stuff around the cutting board, trying not to injure myself in the process. I only chop till it is small enough to get into my KitchenAid meat grinder, but it's still messy, smelly, slimy, and time-consuming.
 
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Becky1024

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Mine's kind of soft when I render in water too. After melting it in hot water I put the entire pan into the frig until the lard solidifies and floats to the top. Since it's still soft, I lift the lard out with a slotted spoon.
 

Chickenpoopshoes

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Ok, So after the second wash and leaving it in the fridge for a full 48hrs (I'm tired... can't be bothered with it at the mo!) the lard is much more solid - not scoopable any more but still less together than the muscle fat tallow I made. The water that drained out was clean! shocker! So I think I will stop washing it now. I can still smell lard off it but it is faint and I'm hoping the lye will destroy any lardy smell in the end. I've seen people on the internet using it way less clean than this so presumably they aren't all washing in a pig-scented lather.
Very interesting about the tallow lard mix....
Not sure what to do about my tester bars now. Do I stick with pure lard or do I go for a mix? I am still tilting towards pure because if I don't make it I will never know what it is like. Might try for a longer cure before first use, though. Long cure seems to fix most things....
 

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