This recipe was for petite Easter hams that we’d brought in for the holiday. Publishing it here so that it doesn’t get lost in the clutter of Facebook. It was exceptional!

We have these perfectly sized fresh hams available for purchase, $9/lb They are UNCURED. The word “ham” simply means they come from the hindquarters of the pig- it doesn’t have anything to do with cured, salty or pink meat. 

I worked with a recipe by Andrew Zimmern and made some ingredient adjustments to my liking and to accommodate a smaller sized ham.

Dry Rub:
2 Tbsp Fine Sea Salt
2 Tbsp Ground Black Pepper
2 Tbsp Garam Masala
2 Tbsp Brown Sugar

1/8 cup spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/8 cup bourbon
1/4 cup maple syrup


Place uncovered in the oven for 20 minutes per pound, until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, checking with a meat thermometer.

Connor’s pulled pork recipe, originally written for his 4H project blog in 2019. Enjoy!

My Mom and I are making pulled pork for the first time. I am going to tell you the recipe and how it tasted. We decided to cook it in the crock pot instead of the oven.

The part of the pig we used for the pig is a picnic ham. picnic ham is the lowest part of the pigs shoulder. You can also use pork shoulder called Boston Butt, or fresh pork ham.

Pulled Pork is known as one of the most popular dishes in the south. You can get it pretty much any where. Barbeque is so famous due to it starting in the south. It first started when Native Americans started barbecuing pigs that were introduced to them by the Spanish.

We researched some recipes online and added ingredients from two recipes, and added our own ideas to make our pulled pork.


1 tablespoon chile powder

worcestershire sauce

half a bottle of dark beer

a big vidalia onion

1 tablespoon paprika

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 teaspoon mustard seed powder

quarter cup brown sugar

2 teaspoons pink sea salt

1 teaspoon  ground black pepper

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 pork shoulder

bottle of barbeque sauce


1. Mix all the spices together and rub them all over the pork.

2. Wrap the pork in saran wrap and let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours

3.Put it in the oven or crock pot till it is tender and falling apart (We added dark beer and cut up onions for extra flavor and so it stayed moist)

4. When done cooking take the ham out and start taking the bones skin and fat out

5. Pull the pork into smaller pieces and mix it together with you’re choice of BBQ sauce

6. Toast up some buns and eat up


This turned out absolutely amazing it was super moist and flavorful unlike most pulled pork I have eaten. We have enough leftovers for three more lunches of pulled pork sandwiches. We will definitely will be making more pulled pork with our other cuts of ham.

This post was written by Connor and originally shared in 2016 to his 4H blog. We hope to make traditional Italian lardo again soon!

Today, I am going to teach you how to make Lardo and a little of its history. Lardo is cured pork fat and is an Italian delicacy. I have Italian ancestry so it is cool to learn about the food they ate.

Italians believe in using all the pig. Lardo is an easy and cheap way to make the fat into a delicious dish. Lardo was once a poor man’s food and now it is seen as a delicacy. Due to them working so hard, they needed a cheap and healthy food to get by. So they used the fatback that was seen as useless and made it into a delicious ingredient to eat with all their meals. Since they also didn’t have refrigeration having a cured food solved the issue of rotting. Pigs are one of the most common livestock in Tuscany. Historically all the rich people got the meat and the poor got all the less used parts like the fat, ears, feet, etc.

Below is a picture of the town of Colonnata and its marble quarries. The town is located in the mountains right outside Florence.

Lardo is cured in salt and countless herbs for a delicious flavor and is then left in a marble container for six months. Here is a example of a Lardo curing cellar and shop.

Lardo can be using in countless recipes to add some extra flavor. Below I have some pictures of dishes made with Lardo. I can’t wait to use it in six months.

Now let me tell you how to make delicious and easy Lardo at home.

The fat used in this recipe is from the KuneKune pigs I was raising since they were piglets. They had an amazing life. They ate pasture, produce and had ton of area to roam. I would not buy the fat for this from the supermarket as it tastes worse and it is pumped full of artificial hormones. Buy the fat from a organic, pastured heritage breed pig. Also the fat from the super market wouldn’t be from a lard pig. A lard pig is a lot more fatty and delicious than a meat pig.

Ingredients you will need:

  • Fresh Rosemary
  • Fresh Thyme
  •  Kosher or Sea Salt
  •  Fresh Sage
  • Fennel Seeds
  • Black Pepper
  • Ten Cloves Of Minced Garlic
  • One Slab Of Fatback


Step One: Add all the ingredients besides the pork into a container and mix them. Make sure to cut up all the herbs.

Step Two: Cut the skin off your fatback slowly with a very sharp knife.

Step Three: Cover the fat with the mixture from step one, then add them both to a zip-loc bag. Put the plastic bag into a black trash bag and put it in the back of your fridge to cure for six months. Every month take the Lardo out and redistribute the salt. Add more salt or herbs if needed.

In six months, I will tell you how it turned out and share some delicious recipes. Buon appetito.

These spreads of cuts are from a single pig that had a hanging weight of 173 lbs. (Approx 250 lbs live weight)

Not shown: Head and bellies (they were curing)

Tail: 1.14 lb

Hocks: 11.32 lb

Kidney: 2.31 lb

Liver: 2.65 lb

Trotters Ears

Jowls: 2.89 lb

St Louis Ribs: 4.05 lb

Riblets: 3.44 lb

Heart: .75 lb

Ham Steaks: 11.02 lb

Sausages: 48 lb

Shoulder steaks: 11.39 lb

Sirloin chops: 5.08 lb

Back fat: 7.39

Porterhouse chops: 7.87 lb

Leaf lard: 2.28 lb

Soup bones: 7 lb

Rib chops: 8.74 lb

Skin: 16 lb

Neck bones: 3 lb

We have a lot of sausage because we chosen to use the picnic shoulder and one of the boston butts in the sausage.

This pig was not terribly fat, he was leaner. Most pigs would yield more back fat and leaf lard.

Bellies yielded about 10 lbs of bacon.


Lard is the go-to ingredient for the best pie crusts ever.

All it takes is 2 cups of flour, a teaspoon of salt, 2/3 cup of chilled lard, and 6 tablespoons of water.

Slice your peaches, add to a large bowl and add bourbon, vanilla, cinnamon, a tiny bit of nutmeg and some brown sugar- to taste. Put lid on bowl and gently shake in a rolling motion, to distribute the coating.

Chill your dough for an hour, then roll out to form your crust. Pre-bake for 5 minutes.

Arrange peaches in a rosette pattern.

Add garnish and edge, crimp and baste with heavy cream, sprinkle with brown sugar.

Bake at 400F for 20 minutes.

Using these gorgeous pieces of Kunekune pork belly, we’re sharing the process for you to easily make your own bacon at home. It’s a lot easier than you think, and only takes about 30 minutes. This is a wet cure method. You can also dry cure with just salt, sugar and spices- and leave out the prague powder, but that’s a much longer process. This is simple and excellent to start with.


Here’s what you need: Kosher Salt, Dark Brown Sugar, Dark Maple Syrup, Black ground pepper, Prague powder #1 (optional, but provides more traditional bacon taste), and water.

After thawing the pork bellies for several days, I removed the skin carefully and with a very sharp knife.

I used vacuum seal bags, but you could just use gallon zip lock bags.

For 8 lbs pork belly I used:

9 tsp kosher salt
9 tsp black pepper
6 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tsp prague powder #1
1 cup dark maple syrup
1.5 cups water

Mix thoroughly and add to your pork belly in the bag. Distribute evenly and either vacuum seal on the gentle/moist setting, or try to get as much air out of your gallon zip loc bag as possible.

We’ll cure this for 3-4 days in the refrigerator, and then move on to the smoking process. Every day I’ll redistribute the cure within the bag to make sure it all cures evenly.

If you don’t have access to a smoker, you can cook your bacon low & slow in your oven with the addition of some liquid smoke for flavor. While this is curing, I’ll decide what type of wood I’d like to smoke it with. Pecan or Cherrywood sounds nice, but so does Applewood and Hickory! We’ll be smoking this in our cabinet smoker.


An easy & flavorful interpretation of the Northern Italian classic, featuring pork shank instead of veal.

One large pork shank, skin removed.

Salt & pepper shank, dredge in flour and brown on all sides in olive oil, set to side.

Add 2 minced cloves of garlic, one carrot, one stick celery and one onion, diced- to olive oil, add salt, cook until transparent.

Add one cup dry white wine and 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, stir well and reduce liquid by half over low heat.

Add pork shank back in, add one cup chicken broth, cover and cook on low until meat is falling off the bone- this time ranges based on size of shank.

Sautee chanterelles in olive oil.

Prepare polenta.

Plate and serve!

Gremolata is a finely diced parsley, garlic & lemon zest added as a final step.

Buon appetito!

What is “Rare Breed” Pork?


The question often comes up… what exactly is “rare breed” pork?

Simply put, it’s pork from rare breeds of swine. All rare breeds are heritage breeds, but not all heritage breeds are rare! In many cases, rare breed pork is produced by breed conservators working to secure the future of the rare breeds they work with. Animals have traceable pedigrees and parent stock is registered. Sometimes rare breed pork may be a cross of two rare breeds, such as a Meishan/Kunekune or Meishan/Gloucester Old Spots cross.

The pigs we raise are rare breeds. The Kunekune pig, utilized as we are, for pork production, is incredibly rare for pork use- most Kunekune pigs are sold as pets. The American Kunekune Pig Registry has averaged approximately 1000 piglets born annually over the last fifteen years, but of those, only an average of 300 piglets per year were actually registered as breeding stock (source: AKPR Herd Book). If the Livestock Conservancy did place the Kunekune pig under study, these statistics would place the Kunekune under “Threatened” status, which equates to less than 1,000 animals being registered per annum. “Critically Endangered” status is 200 or less registrations per year, which means the Kunekune are much closer to being Critically Endagered, than they are Threatened. Rare breed pork? You bet. Very rare, and in need of our stewardship.

In the 70’s, the Kunekune was almost extinct- just eighteen pigs saved the breed that today, is recovering. As the Kunekune is very rarely used for pork, it isn’t considered on many livestock lists, or pages showcasing rare breeds. The number of producers offering Kunekune pork in the USA is extremely small- a google search doesn’t yield much about Kunekune pork, or where to purchase it. Our farm is one of few offering USDA cuts and value added products. Commercially available Kunekune pork is a rarity, and dedicated breeders are seeking to change that!

The Meishan pig is globally threatened and under study with the Livestock Conservancy. The number of Meishan pigs in the United States is extremely small, and an even more minute percentage is registered.

The moniker “Rare Breed Pork” is often used erroneously.  Example (in the USA) Berkshire isn’t a rare breed.  Duroc isn’t a rare breed. Or Landrace. Or Yorkshire. Or Spots. Or Poland China. Or Bluebutt (that’s a cross!). Or Hampshire. Yorkshire is the most common breed of pig in the United States. Berkshire is the THIRD most common! (source: The former examples could/would more accurately be “Heritage Pork”in some cases (such as utilization of old lines from breeders raising for old fashioned, non-commercialized attributes), although for all intents and purposes, many of the breeders were “modernized” for muscle, leanness, fast growth, and less fat.

So, what breeds in the United STates ARE rare breeds?

Kunekune (Considered rare in the USA, especially for pork production. Conservation status listed with zoos nationwide as “not studied, considered rare” Kunekunes were originally raised for pork by the indigenous Maori people, but most in the UK and US see the breed as a pet)

Meishan * – Critically endangered as per Livestock Conservancy – Fewer than 200 annual registrations in the United States and estimated global population less than 2,000)

Ossabaw *

Mangalitsa – An imported rare breed from Hungary.

Gloucester Old Spots (not to be confused with “spots” or “old spots”– these latter two are not the same breed as the GOS!)

Red Wattle *

Mulefoot *

Choctaw *

American Guinea Hog *

Large Black *

Hereford *

Tamworth *

Saddleback *

* – asterisk breeds are listed rare with Livestock Conservancy.


Trends come and go, but a breed’s standard is eternal

I’ve been working on the ideas behind this post ever since having a conversation with my Salmon Faverolles mentor, about how coming from an artistic background can lend itself wonderfully to breeding poultry (or pigs!). A recent post from the AKPR about the breed standard being a blueprint for breeders, led me to think about the existing blueprints of perfection that already exist in nature… and how they subconsciously (or in my case, consciously- due to my past training) may influence our selections. This also relates to many of our deliberate breeding selections as they relate to the Kunekune pigs form AND function.


Despite my muddy boots and work-hardened hands, I have an interesting pathway into farming. I worked at a dairy farm all throughout my teen years, and my grandparents were both avid gardeners, but my Mother wanted more genteel things for me. I was classically trained in piano, cello, viola and violin- learning that nothing matters if not for your technique and ability to master the basics. One should walk before they run. Later, I began to study classical ballet, and danced for almost three decades- sometimes spending 15-20 hours a week solely at the barre learning core technique. Again, the basics. The very underlying foundations that one must learn and master to create strong foundations for future success. In college and graduate school at Rochester Institute of Technology, I studied photography and graphic design. My graduate work was under one of America’s great designers- R. Roger Remington. Under his tutelage, we explored the very roots of what makes a design great. And those roots are in the foundation of the design- the exact form and structure, typically well-trenched in the basics of visual Gestalt principles and the golden mean, the Fibonacci sequence.

The golden mean is found all throughout nature, it’s the mathematical perfection whereby harmony is mathematically expressed. Each segment of the sequence is a direct result of the former, the whole being greater than the sum of the parts- but being nothing without it’s parts! This sequence can be applied to anything organic or inorganic. It exists everywhere, naturally. Without it, there is chaos. “The Golden Number” is a fascinating site that compiles all sorts of instances of the golden mean at work in life and art.


The facial features of a koala bear show golden ratio proportions in the dimensions and positions of the eyes, nose and mouth in relation to the dimensions of the face. (source: When we’re attracted to Kunekune pigs with faces that have teddy bear proportions, it’s not a coincidence. It’s the golden mean at work.


Above koala bear with golden mean overlaid with a Kunekune piglet. Anais is one of my favorite piglets of this year. Interestingly enough, her facial proportions exactly match the koala bear!

While seen as a much overused cliche in the design world, architect Louis Sullivan’s mantra “Form follows function” means that the purpose of a building should be the starting point for its design. In other words, that the shape of a building or object should primarily relate to its intended function or purpose. This makes obvious sense in nature, as we see a world so perfectly created, with plants and animals uniquely adapted to their purpose by virtue of their design. Things get murky when man’s hand touches nature’s perfection, however. In this I believe that whenever our influence is involved, we should stay true to an animal’s purpose. And for that individual animal, the sum of it’s overall parts maintaining their original purposes.

What does that mean? Well, it means that legs are for support and movement. They shouldn’t be so short that the animal can’t efficiently move or breed. They should be sturdy enough to support the animal throughout all of it’s life. Eyes are for seeing. Don’t diminish sight with folds of skin, or ears that completely obscure the field of vision. Snouts are for rooting, scent, and breathing. Allow them to be long enough for a pig to be a pig. And to be a healthy animal that can breathe throughout it’s life cycle. Mouths are for grazing and eating. Don’t breed for traits that obscure that. Teats are for nursing offspring. Let there be a reasonable number of well-spaced, functional teats. And so on, and so forth! You get the idea, right? Selective breeding is no different than playing a God-like role in an animal’s future generations, so we have a great responsibility to make wise decisions.

Every breeder has their own preferences and things that they work on. We start from the bottom and work our way up. The goal is not so much for form to directly follow function, but for them work in harmony, as Kunekune pigs are a visually distinctive heritage breed. Their form and function are closely intertwined in order to marry their purpose with their appearance. It’s that appearance that is what visually defines a pure & heritage breed above and beyond it’s obvious genetics.

The Kunekune pig has a job to do, while doing it with style. You may have heard the quote “Trends come and go, style is eternal”. It was said by the fashion designer Yves St. Laurent. His designs have stood the test of time and are seen by many as classics. A breed’s standard is the timeless “style” for that breed. It’s the guidebook by which you strive to consistently produce pigs which emulate the correctness of the standard. Things such as color, are merely trends. Trends come and trends go, but underneath it all, the pig is still a pig and has a job to do. That job may be procreation, or it may be pork… but it’s still a job.



AKPR Standard of Perfection

American Standard of Perfection ~ Revised 2018:

Updating of the Standard of Perfection for the Kunekune Pig breed is intended to provide a clear description of Kunekune characteristics for pasture, pork, and progeny.

When Kunekune Pigs are judged in the show ring, these characteristics and how well each pig displays them shall be the basis for awarded points and placement.  Consideration of the head is of paramount importance when evaluating the breed.  Head type identifies the breed as a grazer not prone to root and is considered unique to the breed.  Judges please note the weightiness given to head type.

General Appearance:

Form: Relatively long, level, and deep. Boars generally weighing up to 400 pounds and sows generally up to 350 pounds, the result of a thick cover of firm flesh and fat.


Quality: Uniform covering of hair, clean skin, medium/heavy bone, even covering of flesh and fat.

Condition: Overall appearance shall be one of balance. Deep uniform covering of flesh and fat especially in regions of valuable cuts.


Head: Proportionate to body, evenly set on shoulders. Broad. Wide forehead. Short, broad, upturned snout with large, symmetrical nostrils to facilitate respiratory ease and teeth suitable for grazing. Teeth shall be set back inside the mouth and must not protrude when mouth is closed. Medium to heavy jowl, not wasty. Sweeping jawline. 10 points


Objections: Head not proportionate to body size, set unevenly. Narrow forehead – animals with wider foreheads are generally symmetrical and wider in the chest and back. Longer, shallower heads generally correlate with a similar body type resulting in less meat mass. Long, straight snout, uneven nostrils, teeth whose angle is unsuitable for grazing, protruding teeth or teeth set forward, droopy bottom lip. Wasty jowl (excessively fat), or thin, trim.


Eyes: Set well apart and symmetrical, bright, intelligent and kind. 5 points


Objections: Eyes set narrow or at unequal levels. Dull.


Ears: Set wide apart on the top corners of the head. Symmetrical in form and attachment. Pricked to semi-lopped, inclined forward. Under control of the hog. Settling firmly out over the eyes when grazing – ears should have the appearance of a visor over the eye, coming firmly from the head and out. 5 points

Objections: Ears set narrow or not of the same size, set or shape. Ears that roll up or are laterally folded along their length shall be avoided. Ears set on the side of the head, point outward to the side, not inclined forward, lopped. Ears may curb vision but should not obscure forward view. Emphasis to avoid ears that are laterally folded along their length as though “folded in half”. Purpose of ears include hearing, but also protection of the eyes from sun.


Wattles: Two, well-formed and well-attached in the same location on the corner of the jowl on each side hanging freely. Firm and of kidney or thumb shape. Symmetrical in size and shape.

5 points

Objections: Less than two wattles, poorly attached, uneven size or shape, unevenly set on jowl. Wattles set high causing wattles to flare out.

Neck: Short to medium, proportionately and evenly set on shoulders. Deep and thick. 5 points

Objections: Long, uneven, thin, shallow.

Shoulders: Level and in proportion to hams, broad, deep, full. Sloping and aligned with legs and sides. Well developed. Muscle extending well down legs. Should not protrude above the line of the back. 5 points

Objections: Shoulders not uniform with hams, thin, shallow, weak, protruding above level of back.

Chest: Moderately wide between the legs. Deep girth. 5 points

Objections: Narrow, shallow, thin. Front legs set too narrow or too wide for chest width.

Back & Loin: Strong, level or slightly arched when grazing. Medium to long length and level to root of tail. Width even from shoulder to ham/rump when viewing from above. Even and smooth, firm not pliable. Rounded at croup, base of tail not flat. 5 points

Objections: Narrow, swayed or highly arched back, weak or mushy. Heritage hogs’ width typically averages the same from shoulder to ham/rump. Pliable feel to back could mean that the hog retains too much fat. Length should not be excessive as this can affect breeding and the productive life of hog due to weakness. Flat croup (area in front of the tail).

Sides & Ribs: Deep. Well-sprung ribs in proportion with shoulders and hams. Symmetrical from front to back. 5 points

Objections: Narrow, thin, shallow, pinched. *Long, deep bodied animals indicate a good capacity for organs and carry a larger quantity of high quality loin cuts.

Belly & Flank: Thick, flat, even underline. Flank smooth and full, in line with the sides, well let down. 5 points

Objections: Flabby, loose, droopy underline. Underline pulled up or thin. Flank out of line with sides.

Teats: At least 10 sound, evenly spaced, well-paired teats starting well forward. 5 points

Objections: Blind or inverted teats in gilts, sows, or boars. *Animals with 12 or more teats are desirable.

Hams & Rump: Hams broad and deep with good width coming well down to the hock. Rump slightly rounded from loin to base of tail. 5 points


Objections: Narrow, thin, long hams not extending well down to hock. Rump narrow, too flat, or dropping off too sharply. Flat croup.

Tail: Curled or crooked expressing movement. Set high. Attached as the hip falls from the back. With no depression at root. Moderately long but not coarse, well tasseled. 5 points

Objections: Straight, short, lack of tassel. *Tail set too low indicates steep rump which can lead to various joint, breeding and birthing issues due to stress on joints, restricted motion, and mal-alignment.

Legs: Short to medium, straight, strong boned, well tapered and well set apart. Pasterns springy, providing adequate cushion, consistent with heritage breeds. 5 points

Objections: Extremely long, short or thin legs. Knock knees, bucked knees, or pigeon toed. Post legged or stiffness – lack of proper shock absorption during locomotion. Legs set too narrow. Legs should be solid, thick and strong, placed squarely on all four corners of the body to provide adequate balance and proper support for the weight of the hog*. Rear legs should not appear to be standing on tiptoes nor be rocked back onto pasterns. Dew claws off of the ground when on firm footing. Weak foreleg pasterns are tolerable in heritage hogs but weak knees must be avoided due to premature breakdown of animals with the anatomical deformity. *Back legs set under the animal is common and true to heritage breeds, therefore, should not be considered a fault.

Feet: Strong with even, short to medium cleys consistent with heritage breeds. 5 points

Objections: Overly splayed. Excessively flat footed. Cleys of unequal size, twisted, or overly long. *Commercial breeds have been bred to stand upright on small, closed toes to improve the appearance of the hams without consideration of comfort for ease of movement on pasture. Heritage breeds often display soft, flexible pasterns with open toes appropriate for their age and weight. Open toes and flexible pasterns are true to heritage breeds and should not be viewed as a fault.

Skin & Hair: Clean coat of fine quality, any color, texture, or pattern except in the case of a true belt. 5 points

Objections: Hair not covering the body evenly. Swirls, cowlicks, hair growing in different directions on the body. Dullness. Lumps, bumps, or roughness of skin. A “true belt” is a disqualification in the show ring, however, the pig is registerable by the AKPR Registered Breeder with proof of parentage via DNA from AKPR Registered parents. “True Belt” is defined as “an unbroken band encircling the body (no spots/blotches and without bleeding) and including the front legs and feet”.

Testicles: Easily seen with each of the same size and carriage. *Points will be awarded under sexual characteristics of boar.

Objections: Uneven size or carriage, not easily seen. Flabby low scrotum. *Testicles that are not apparent may be due to over conditioning (too fat) at a young age and can result in infertility in boars. Testicles can be drawn up and held to the age of 8 to 12 months in some bloodlines/individuals. Testicles in some animals are held close to the body before relaxing and letting down in the aged boar.

Temperament: Placid in nature, active and alert, confident, docile, inquisitive. Easily handled and driven.

5 points

Objections: Wild, aggressive, difficult to control or drive. Dull.

Action: Free, firm, fluid and forward in motion. Alert. 5 points

Objections: Limping, lameness, stiffness, weak, wobbling. Dull.

Sexual Characteristics:

MALE ~ boars should be strong in traits peculiar to the sex. Head may be slightly coarse, the neck full and arched somewhat, with the shoulder heavy. The forequarters are usually slightly heavier than the hind quarters and this distinction grows more evident with age as shields develop. Strength of frame without coarseness is desirable. Body should be deep, long, and low. Strong, short/medium legs with straight pasterns. At least 10 sound, evenly spaced, well-paired teats starting well forward. 5 points

FEMALE ~ after breed type, sex type is of first and foremost importance in sows. She shall have no signs of coarseness instead being feminine in overall appearance, neat, and sharp. The width before and behind should be almost uniform. Length of body abundant for growing litters and easy farrowing. She shall possess at least 10 sound, evenly spaced, well-paired teats starting well forward, none blind. 5 points

Possible Points: 100



Lard. The word itself often evokes a visceral reaction. Known as “saindoux” in French, “strutto” in Italian, “schmalz” in German, “manteca” in Spanish, and “laridum” in Latin, the word’s etymological source… lard is often used as both a negative connotation and an insult.

Did you ever wonder why most people today see lard as something disgusting and unpalatable? One hundred years ago, lard was found in every home, not only as a primary cooking & baking fat, but also in personal care products and candles. It was also used industrially as a machining lubricant.

Lard fell out of favor in the early 1900’s and is slowly but surely making a comeback. So how did lard fall from grace? It was essentially, a carefully planned corporate coup.

First, there was Upton Sinclair, whose novel “The Jungle” painted an unseemly portrait of meat packing in general, and the fact that the fictional work portrayed men falling into boiling lard rendering vats. Sinclair wrote The Jungle to expose the appalling working conditions in the meat-packing industry. His description of the working conditions and meat itself shocked the public and led to new federal food safety laws.

Next? Crisco. Proctor & Gamble created Crisco in 1910, the hydrogenated vegetable oil that looks like lard. It’s sole purpose was to replace lard in every American kitchen and utilize the cottonseed oil production chain formerly used to create candles. With the invention of the light bulb, candle production waned. Excess oil needed a use- and that use was hydrogenated vegetable oil. Proctor & Gamble led the one of the most expansive food advertising campaigns ever, to boost Crisco while demonizing lard. They gave it away for free, produced cookbooks and ran advertisements that claimed it was more digestible and healthier than lard. Lard wasn’t completely out of the picture, but it’s use was no longer dominant.

Then, in the 1950’s scientists joined in nay-saying lard, with medical claims that saturated fats, such as those found in lard, caused heart disease. Turns out… they were ALL wrong. And it’s actually Crisco and highly processed vegetable oils and hydrogenation that is what’s unhealthy.

Fast forward to the present, where we see lard becoming more accepted and even welcomed- by local food, farm to table movements, pastured livestock farming, and nose-to-tail utilization of humanely raised animals.

To make things more complicated, all pigs are not created equal. There are “lard breeds” and there are “bacon breeds”. Lard breeds are your old fashioned type of pigs, which fatten easily and produced copious amounts of fine-grained, buttery, firm and delicious lard. Lard breeds are compact and thick, with deep bodies and short legs. They include swine such as Kunekune, Meishan, American Guinea Hog, Ossabaw, Mangalitsa, and Potbelly. Bacon breeds are your commercial meat producers. They are lean, long and muscular and include breeds such as Tamworth, Duroc, Hereford, Yorkshire and Modern Berkshire. Some breeds have a little bit of both! These include English Berkshire, Gloucester Old Spots, Large Black, Red Wattle, and Mulefoot, to name a few. Most pastured pork producers utilize cross-breeds of various bacon-type breeds. Very few use lard breeds because they are smaller, and can take 3-4 times longer to grow out to a smaller weight, at that. Combined with the higher amount of fat on their carcass, they are frequently shunned by pastured pork farmers. We go against the grain by working exclusively with lard breeds. Why? Taste. There is nothing quite like the taste of slow-grown, intricately marbled meat from a lard pig. And the fat quality is unrivaled. All of the lard pig breeds other than potbelly pigs (typically seen as pets) are seen as rare and in some cases, critically or globally endangered. This makes a farmer’s work with them both valuable and important- a form of breed conservation through utilization. Breed the best, eat the rest!

Here’s an example between an old fashioned (English) Berkshire boar, and a modernized American one- selectively bred for fast growth and meat production. The English type is more of a lard type.

But back to lard… the lard you find in the modern grocery store is hydrogenated and shelf stable. Don’t buy this- it isn’t even remotely the same type of product you’d get from small farmers raising swine on pasture and in forest land. Pigs raised outdoor with natural forage, grasses, and a potentially omnivorous diet (pigs can and do eat snakes, amphibians, insects, and more!) produce fats with a much healthier lipid profile, as well as more vitamin D. Better than butter? We sure think so! Lard is lower in saturated fat than other animal fats like butter and tallow, and higher in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat—the type that gives olive oil its popularity. Lard has a high smoke point, making it a choice cooking and frying oil. And it’s one of the best fats to use in baking, especially biscuits or pie crusts!

We offer lard in several ways. At this time, we don’t offer plain, rendered lard. We do offer leaf lard (the internal fat), and back fat (the layer of fat found on the back and partway down the sides). Lard is very easy to render at home, store in the refrigerator or freezer, and utilize as a cooking fat. Southern cuisine is well-known for incorporating “salted fatback”, which is a salt-cured form of the fatback, usually offered sliced. We carry this as well. But our most unique and delicious product utilizing the creamy & pristine fat from our rare breed pigs is our Whipped Lardo, also known as “Crema di Lardo”.

The first time I experienced this was while traveling in central Italy. Umbria, to be exact- during wild boar season. Connor and I ate many dishes with “cinghiale”, and at one point experienced whipped lardo made with leaf fat combined with herbs & spices, vinegar and garlic. It was heaven!

Whipped Lardo can be used wherever you use cooking oils, fats or butter, and it incorporates both your cooking fat and your seasoning! We currently offer it in five different varieties: Rosemary & Garlic, Red Pepper & Fennel, WIldflower Honey & Sea Salt, Italian Herb, and Herbes de Provence. We are one of only a few farms in the entire United States that is producing Whipped Lardo for resale, and at this time- the only farm in South Carolina! Our rare breed lard pigs are exceptionally well-suited to producing the type of premium fat that is utilized in the lardo. In Italy, historically lardy breeds, often acorn-finished- are utilized as well.

We also utilize our lard in personal care products, such as handcrafted lard soaps, salves and balms. Our aim is to fully utilize the whole hog, and the fat is where it’s at! A portion of the hog that many modern-day producers simply end up discarding, for us- is an extremely important product that we choose to utilize and elevate!

Some more interesting reading about lard: