I firmly believe that lard makes THE BEST piecrust. Why? It’s natural, it’s easy to work with, and it produces the flakiest, tastiest crusts with a beautiful golden color.
Here at Kitschen Bakery LLC, we don’t mess around when it comes to pies. That’s why we use locally sourced, high-quality leaf lard.
Leaf lard is widely considered the highest grade of lard. It is cut from the fatty areas of the loin surrounding a pig’s kidneys. It has very little pork flavor, making it an excellent choice for pastries. Our leaf lard is sourced from a great local producer, Bluescreek Farm Meats, operating a farm in Marysville, OH and a butcher shop in Plain City, OH. By using freshly rendered lard, we eliminate the need for hydrogenation, added preservatives, and bleaching, which are often a necessary part of production in the shelf-stable lard available at the local supermarket.
In support of the concept of “knowing your food,” here is a brief overview of the lard rendering process, illustrated in my home kitchen to show the process on a smaller scale.
This is leaf lard, unrendered, straight from the butcher shop. It is cut into small pieces, placed in a slow cooker and simmered overnight. Once it is liquid, any solids are strained off using cheesecloth; these solids can be saved and used in any number of Southern recipes calling for cracklins.
The result is a VERY HOT yellow liquid, which is funneled into jars and cooled to room temperature.
Once cool, the lard should look snowy white. This means it is ready to either use or freeze. I store my lard in the refrigerator to maximize shelf life, but many people simply keep it in their pantry for several months so it stays creamy and soft. Any foul odor coming from the lard indicates that it is not safe to use and should be discarded immediately.
Pie season is just around the corner, so check out your local butcher for freshly rendered lard. If you are working on a small scale, you can even render it yourself at home using the method described above. Share your results, comments and questions!
Looking to enjoy a fresh, delicious lard crust? Kitschen offers pies by special order. Honey Pecan, Shoofly and Rhubarb are currently available. Mixed Berry, Shaker Lemon Strawberry and Blueberry Sage Goat Cheese are coming in June. Added bonus: most of our pies come with “Pie Buddies,” extra dough baked with cinnamon and sugar. Yum!