House of Lards

Pork Fat - Proto Lard

I crave slowness and appreciate the things that can’t be rushed. Rarely do those gifts come along, even on a homestead that espouses simple living.

Tomatoes are canned in a flurry before rot sets in. Seedlings are planted in the narrow window between last frost and first heat wave. Herbs are harvested before the sudden arrival of flowers lures the bees with unexpected sweetness, leaving only bitter greens for us.

But rendering lard is different. The pork fat arrives in winter, during a grace period when both we and the earth take a collective breath. And the process can’t be hastened. Bit by bit, pieces of fat go in the crock pot, melt, and are ladled into jars.

Rendered lardMore than an hour is required to liquefy each pound of fat, but small amounts are ready to be spooned out every twenty minutes or so. The work is easy, but there’s no venturing far from the kitchen lest you risk burning the scarce treasure. I choose to look at rendering day as an excuse to relax, so this year, I brewed a pot of coffee, queued up some Vivaldi, curled up in a sunbeam, and read Janisse Ray’s “Wild Card Quilt” in between ladling sessions.

After twelve hours, I had been lulled into a blissful coma. As Annie Dillard said, “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” and I fully intend to spend more days like this one.

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