Lardo di Kunekune di Corva Bella

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.

100 Herbs & Flowers: Creating l’acqua di San Giovanni

Establishing tradition is something that means a lot to me, as does reconnecting with the Italian ancestry my Grandfather kept shrouded for his entire life. The creation of the “cento erbe” (100 herbs and flowers) is a tradition from rural Umbria, in central Italy- nowhere near where my Grandfather was born and raised, but it is a tradition that I began with my Son, the summer of 2011 that we lived in Umbria. Introduced to us by our hosts, I found the tradition beautiful and vowed to continue doing it each year and share it with people so that they could enjoy this little Italian bit of rural summer tradition, on their own.

Picking Cento Erbe (and identifying plants) in Paciano, Umbria, Italy:

And so, tonight is Notte di San Giovanni Battista (night of Saint John the Baptist), which we celebrate by gathering 100 types of leaves, herbs, flowers, etc… these go into a large bowl of water, which sits outside all night, collecting the dew. Before going to bed, we burn last year’s dried cento erbe. This is an old folk Italian Midsummer ritual, marking the halfway point of the year- burning the old, and giving birth to the new. The tradition reminds us both of our Baptism and the fire of the Holy Spirit. The Feast of San Giovanni takes place on June 24th, to celebrate this patron Saint. Traditionally, all members of the family wash in the floral water at sunrise, and babies are completely immersed in it. The water smells absolutely incredible, and is rejuvenating in every way.


It’s a beautiful tradition that Connor and I have done for the last 4 years. Every year, our gathering looks completely different. What we gathered today will look very different tomorrow morning when I wake up, too! This can really be done every month, in particular on the night of the full moon.

Here are some of our past year’s “cento erbe”. You can collect any type of flowers, herbs, leaves, berries, nuts, or wild plants. They infuse into the water overnight and the result is always different.  I can’t wait to see what this year’s looks like when I wake up tomorrow morning…





A bonfire to enjoy, and burn last year’s dried cento erbe, while enjoying good company.

Ancestral Farming: linking ancestry and tradition with modern day farming and foods

“There is an internal landscape, a geography of the soul; we search for its outlines all our lives. Those who are lucky enough to find it ease like water over a stone, onto its fluid contours, and are home. Some find it in the place of their birth; others may leave a seaside town, parched, and find themselves refreshed in the desert. There are those born in rolling countryside who are really only at ease in the intense and busy loneliness of the city. For some, the search is for the imprint of another; a child or a mother, a grandfather or a brother, a lover, a husband, a wife, or a foe. We may go through our lives happy or unhappy, successful or unfulfilled, loved or unloved, without ever standing cold with the shock of recognition, without ever feeling the agony as the twisted iron in our soul unlocks itself and we slip at last into place.”  ― Josephine Hart

I first found the perfect pieces of my internal landscape lock into place when I became a Mother. I found it again, so perfectly… when we began our farm.


Above is a quote by author Josephine Hart, from her novel “Damage”. Certainly about as far removed from farming as one might venture… but words that resonate within me as I contemplate the path my son Connor and I, are traveling down as we work daily on our farm.


I am a family historian. An amateur genealogist, a person passionate about the traditions that link us with our past. To some, the term “ancestral farming” is the process of employing ancient farming techniques, such as the three sisters, when corn, beans and squash were planted together in Native American tradition. It is all of those things, but for me it is also paying homage to my ancestors. The foods they grew, the flavors they cooked with, the traditions they held. Today I weave the gardening lessons my Grandparents taught me, into my everyday routine. These childhood memories become a comforting routine as we work our way through each day. It can be as simple as growing a flower or herb that is a subtle reminder of a person or a tradition, or sowing the seeds of a certain vegetable that quite possibly was grown in fields plowed by your ancestors thousands of miles away on another continent.


Just as much as Heritage breed animals by default ensure that we are maintaining part of our history and a deep connection to our past food and farming history, the simple act of planting a row of a very specific type of squash grown only in a certain part of Italy that just so happens to be where your Grandfather grew up… is a conscious and comforting act which gives your food and farming process infinitely more meaning.


I am grateful at garden planning time for rare and heirloom seed companies that cater to my every whim and desire when it comes to my hopes to create an Italian-inspired garden that my Bisnonna Augusta would have been proud of. I’ve heard only stories of her legendary culinary skills, as she passed away before I was born. I find joy in learning about the foods and flavors of the area in which she raised my Grandfather, Dante Giuseppe Rosario Calderan… for thirteen years on her own. My Great Grandfather embarked on his journey to the USA in January 1914, when my Grandfather was only a few months old.


My Great Grandmother Augusta, and my Grandfather Dante. A postcard sent from Corva, Italy to my Great Grandfather, in the United States.


When we visited Italy and made a pilgrimage to Corva di Azzano Decimo, we walked on the street where she and my Grandfather walked. The house my Great Great Grandfather, Domenico Calderan, built- still stands on Via San Pietro in Piagno. And I was told that my Calderan relatives still live there, although I sadly was not able to meet any of them on my visit. Corva is a tiny town. A blip on the map that one might miss with a blink of an eye, but to me, walking through it’s main street, going into it’s two churches to light a candle, visiting it’s small cemetery and standing at the gravestones of my Great Grandparents, Great Aunts and Uncles… was the experience of a lifetime, which brought tears of my eyes.



To me, ancestral farming is the act of consciously fostering a deep connection with the past, through the foods and culinary traditions of one’s ancestors. A garden isn’t just a garden, but a piece of your history. Join me here on the blog as I venture on this journey. I’m slowly learning about the foods and flavors of my ancestry, which is dominantly Italian (Friulian), but which may take us on a journey to Switzerland, Cornwall or Scotland as well!

I will return to Corva and the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, again one day…