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When it comes to brining and smoking cuts like ham and bacon, we go out of our way to keep the complex nutrition and "porky" flavor of our pastured pork.
Nitrites, nitrates, and sodium erythrobate are commonly used to obtain a faster cure and result in smoked meat that is pink instead of brown. These chemicals have been well-studied, and based on the results of those studies we highly recommend avoiding them whenever possible!
We worked with our butcher, Percy McDonald from McDonald Meats in Girard, PA, to design a brine and smoking guideline for our farm. The result is delicious and nutritious hams, ham steaks, hocks (for soup), and bacon, free of potentially harmful chemicals.
Hams and ham steaks available now - brought to you by our local farm and our local butcher! Hams are approximately 4lb each fully cooked.
The "Dirty Dozen" Guide to Food Additives
Lard is an incredibly stable saturated fat that is nutritious and extremely useful – and one of the best oils to use when cooking at high temperatures. There is a general misconception that cooking with fat can be bad for your health and cholesterol; however, there is an important distinction between quality dietary fats and the type of fat and cholesterol found in clogged arteries and vessels.
We pride ourselves in using every part of every animal we raise on our farm. The rendering from last season’s hog processing will produce more than 100 gallons of the highest quality cooking fat with the best nutrition.
When the days are cold and windy and the indoors are more comfortable than the snowy grounds around the farm, I pack the boxes of fat saved from last fall's hog processing into my Jeep and head to my Amish friend Sarah’s house for the day to begin rendering fat for family and my customers. Sarah Shetler is a healer in her community and I am a nurse in mine, so you can imagine the time we have spent together discussing health topics!
My husband Rob and I start the process at home by thawing one 50lb box of fat and cutting it into small chunks. When I arrive at the Shetler Farm, the cast iron cauldron in the basement is warm from a crackling woodfire enclosed beneath. The room is warm and the conversations are lively and filled with laughter.
As the lard renders down with a busy boil, we set up the lard press and prepare to separate the liquid lard from the cracklins (bits that didn't cook down). Hot panfuls are emptied into the press until it is full and the lid is screwed down with a hand crank, squeezing the cracklins into a cake at the bottom of the press and collecting the liquid fat in large stainless steel pans. We usually wind up with 3-4 cracklin cakes 3 inches high. We carefully transfer the liquid lard from the large pans to mason jars for sealing.
We pass along the love and care that went into each jar when we share the fruits of our labor with our customers, and there is nothing we enjoy more than helping our customers remain healthy with the highest quality products we can provide from our farm.
Learn more about the benefits of cooking with lard:
10 Reasons You Should Be Cooking with Lard
Lard is Healthy: 10 Reasons to Bring Lard Back
Learn where to buy our lard or other products
Lake Erie Lifestyle
Published: May 26, 2013 12:01 AM EST
Updated: May 25, 2013 10:00 PM EST
Story and photos by Lisa Gensheimer, Erie Times-News
See our article at www.lakeerielifestyle.com "The Well Fed Carnivore"