What is Leaf Lard?
Leaf lard is the fat that surrounds the pig’s kidneys. It is of very high quality and, when rendered, makes some of the best tasting and flakiest crusts ever! Don’t let the name lard put you off. It is lower in saturated fat and cholesterol than butter.
I was introduced to leaf lard when I was given a one pound container some years ago.
The creamy white substance looked similar to store bought shortening my grandma used in liberal amounts. She was the pie-baker in the family but went to her grave with her crust recipe!
I’d always heard lard makes the best crusts. Searching it out, all I could find was the boxed stuff in the grocery store international section and wondered if there might be another option.
The gift of this little tub was a great opportunity to learn and I got right to work experimenting. I made crust after crust, trying to get the right ratio of butter and lard to create a pie crust that is:
- and easy to work with.
The Great Pie Crust Quest took over two years of work. Friends were ever-willing testers, offering feedback, suggestions and encouragement, every step of the way.
Some days I made four versions of crust to try, tweaking amounts of butter, leaf lard, water, not to mention flour, a whole subject in itself.
Others have discovered this old-fashioned ingredient, too. Lorna Yee (Seattle Magazine and Cookbook Chronicles) calls it her “porcine secret”. Ashley Rodriguez of notwithoutsalt has a short and informative video about rendering your own in which she demonstrates one of the methods to make your own. It’s quite easy to do.
Where to Purchase?
But most of us will be wanting to purchase some already rendered and then the question is where can one find leaf lard? With a little sleuthing hopefully you will find some. Here are a few suggestions:
- Ask your local artisan butcher for rendered leaf lard.
- Check at farmers markets.
- Do a web search for buy leaf lard and your bound to come up with some places that will mail order right to your door!
- And a few folks online that I know that sell.
How to Store?
An Update (Aug 25, 2011) :
I’ve been asked about how much leaf lard do I use. I have gone through up to 50 pounds of leaf lard in my workshops each month at times. If you buy it already rendered, you can store it in your freezer for one year and at least six months in the fridge.