Thursday, January 27, 2011


I've been reading about the benefits, in flavor and possibly also in health, of good old fashioned animal lard. I had a conversation with the butcher at our local Safeway store about it. He let me know that, while Safeway doesn't carry lard as a commercial product, the butcher shop throws away dozens of pounds of fat trimmings every day that I could have for free. Score.

Later this afternoon, I'll be trudging down the mountain with a clean 5-gallon pail in order to collect whatever's been held back for me. I'm excited. I'm so excited I'd leave right now, were it not for the fact that the Land Rover has again been spewing parts and fluid into the air, and T has taken my old reliable truck into town for work. That he works during the week and I work mostly on the weekends is almost as depressing as the idea that we might be deployed on opposite timescales. We each owe the Army just a little over a year, you see. He's scheduled to deploy this June and come back in 2012. I'm scheduled to leave in 2012, just about the time he's coming back. Sure, stop loss is supposed to be over and they can't deploy me when I have only three months left on my contract, right? Yeah. Let me know how that one works out for you.

I try not to think about the immediate future, actually. What keeps me motivated is seeing that little farm we don't own yet shimmering on the horizon, just waiting for the moment the military monster will let us out of its clutches. And in the meantime, I'll be doing things like learning to render fat. I must confess that "rendering" is a word I'm used to in the context of photography and Adobe digital editing. We're relying primarily on notes from a Foxfire book and YouTube videos for instruction. Hey, when it's free, you've got plenty of incentive to let yourself experiment.

There's a big dead Ponderosa Pine just next to our house, and our firewood stack is nearly empty. With any luck, it'll come down in the next few days. I'm a little nervous, as this will be the first big tree I've dropped so dangerously close to a structure. But we've got a plan of attack I'm satisfied with. Stay tuned.


  1. I've been meaning to try rendering some of the fat from our pigs. It's in the freezer, but I always seem to have something else to do. (I think I'm a bit scared to try it.) Lisa at renders regularly. i believe she's got crockpot directions somewhere on her site.

  2. Hi Zev, thanks for your comments on my blog today, I had to come check out yours, and will save in favorites to read some more. I use rendered fat for cooking from many different meats, and save a jar in the refrigerator for stir fry, and sauteing veggies in.

  3. Rendered lard for free (barring your time investment) is a great find!

    I rendered a few quarts late last year and use it for pie crusts and other cooking. Whenever I cook chicken, I save the fat and use it, mainly for frying, too. The rendered beef fat usually goes to the birds (chickens or wild) or into household soap.

  4. I've been rendering my own for a little over a year and it's an excellent thing. I buy our meat from a local packing house (local meat, mainly grass fed) and also am able to get free fat on occasion. It's not enough yet for soap making it but plenty for the few other things I use lard for.