The Shelf life of Lard for Long Term Storage
Fats and oils should be a foundational part of every emergency food pantry. Fats such as lard and tallow are underrated superfoods that can provide your family with a healthy and nutritious source of fat. Whether you are a prepper looking to store food long term or wanting to cook with savory and flavorful fat, lard can serve both. As concerns about a coming food shortage continue to dominate headlines, we should learn about the shelf life of oils, as well as fats to build our emergency food storage location.
What is Lard?
Lard is the term we use to describe pig fat. It is a natural cooking fat sourced from any part of the pig through steaming, boiling, or dry heating it. Lard has numerous health benefits and was a staple in human diets for much of history. It was only in the last 100 years, that people went from eating natural fats to highly processed GMO seed oils.
However, pork fat is still an important component in Latin, European, and Asian cuisines today and is slowly regaining its former prominence as it offers unique health benefits and can enhance the culinary experience served at the dinner table. Pig fat is a popular ingredient for making flaky pie crusts, biscuits, and donuts.
Lard offers similar characteristics as other fat based foods such as butter, tallow, and ghee. Lard is not only used for frying, but also as a spread on bread, skin moisturizer, lip balm, wound treatment, and many other uses.
The quality of lard depends on the body part providing the fat and the diet of the pig. Pasteurized grass-fed lard provides significantly more nutrients and better flavors when cooking. Leaf lard is the highest grade of lard which is fat sourced between the kidney and the inside loin of the pig. Since leaf lard does not have a strong pork flavor, it is a popular ingredient for baked goods and can provide a flaky consistency.
Lard also provides exceptional health benefits. It is high in vitamin B and D, and a great source of monounsaturated fat which is known to lower cholesterol. Pork fat is a natural source of chlorine which can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.
Probably the most important consideration for lard is that pig fat has a high smoke point, at 375°F or 190°C. This allows for better frying and sauteeing without having to be too concerned about burning the food.
How Long does Lard Last?
Lard, if stored properly, can have a shelf life of over 24 months. However, the shelf life of lard depends on:
Where it is stored: at room temperature, in a refrigerator, or freezer
Exposure to: sunlight, oxygen, and heat
The part of the pig where the lard is sourced
Type of Container
Brand of lard
Shelf Life of Lard
You may be wondering, how long is lard good for? Below is an easy to follow table of the shelf life of unopened lard.
|Storage Method||Filtered Lard||Unfiltered Lard|
|Pantry||6 Months||1 Month|
|Fridge||1 Year||3 Months|
|Freezer||2 Years||6 Months|
How to Store Lard?
If kept at an ambient temperature, lard can will go rancid after about six months, but that same lard may last up to one year in a refrigerator. Lard can also be stored in a freezer, and frozen for long-term storage. Frozen pig fat can be kept for over two years if stored properly.
Keeping lard cold can help to preserve the quality of your product for longer than keeping it in your pantry. You should keep in mind that storing it in a refrigerator will change the consistency of the lard, which may affect your experience when cooking or applying it as a polish or moisturizer.
If you live in a warmer climate, we suggest storing lard in a refrigerator or freezer to protect it from heat exposure. Heat exposure can cause the lard to go bad prior to the expiration date.
How Lard goes Rancid
Exposure to sunlight, oxygen, and heat is the quickest way to cause fats to spoil. By storing lard in a fridge or freezer, you are taking the extra measure of limiting exposure to direct sunlight and heat. Airtight containers, or at the very least a tightly sealed container, should be used to minimize exposure to oxygen.
Keeping in mind these three rancid-causing components are the most important point to know when storing fats and oils. The lard must be protected from all three to extend its shelf life of it. Forgetting to protect one, can ruin all your effort in trying to preserve it.
When scooping up lard from a container, you should always use a clean utensil. This will help prevent spoilage from bacteria that cause mold.
Also, you should know that lard and other fat-based products attract pests. Using the proper storage will prevent rodents, insects, and other pests from spoiling your lard.
Note: If you find yourself eating rancid lard, know that it will not cause you to get sick. However, it is unsavory and exposes the body to free radicals which you should avoid because it destabilizes the cells in your body.
Different Types of Lard
The two main types of lard are filtered and unfiltered. Unfiltered lard has a much shorter shelf life because it is meant to be consumed not long after being made. It is best used fresh and can help enhance your meal.
Filtered lard has a much longer shelf life because it is intended to be kept as a shelf staple. Filtered lard may have additives such as hydrogenated oils to extend its shelf life of the lard. Filtered lard has a shelf life of 6 months at room temperature, and up to 2 years if frozen.
Additionally, lard can be made from any part of the pig. However, not all parts are equal, and some parts have a longer shelf life. Leaf lard is considered, the highest grade of pig fat, but has a shelf life of only 1 month at room temperature, and up to 6 months when frozen, which is much shorter than rendered filtered lard.
Packing Lard for Long Term Storage
To store lard, it is good practice to change its packaging of it since store-bought lard packaging may not be effective for long-term storage. There are a number of techniques of lard packaging which can help reduce exposure to sunlight, oxygen, and heat. Some techniques are:
Naturally, different brands use different lard sources which can affect the shelf life. Below are popular brands of Lard and their expected shelf life for refrigerated lard.
Does Lard need Refrigeration?
Although refrigerating lard isn’t required, it can significantly extend the shelf life. Refrigeration also reduces exposure to sunlight, heat, and oxygen which cause rancidity. Lard can be kept at room temperature or frozen in a refrigerator.
If you refrigerate lard, it will change the consistency of the fat. And if this happens it can change your experience with it. Some people like to use lard for non-cooking projects such as candle making and polishing furniture, and having smoother lard helps with these types of projects.
How can I Freeze Lard?
Freezing lard is the best way to extend the usage of lard. At room temperature, most lards last up to 6 months, but if frozen can last over two years.
If your intention is to freeze lard, I’d recommend wrapping it in wax paper, sealing it in foil, then placing it in a container or freezer bag. This will help prevent exposure to air. You can also slice lard into tiny cubes on baking sheets with parchment paper. Place in the fridge for two to three hours. Remove the baking sheets, and place the lard into freezer bags. You can then place this container in the freezer.
As mentioned above, we suggest changing lard out of its original packaging since most store bought lard is not made for long term storage. Frozen lard can be kept in mason jars, vacuum sealed containers, cans, and freezer bags. All of which are effective in minimizing exposure to sunlight and oxygen as well as freeze burn.
Can Lard be Stored Long Term?
Yes, but depends on the type of lard. Filtered lard has a shelf life of over two years if placed in a freezer. Unfiltered lard has a much shorter shelf life of 6 months if frozen. The key to extend the shelf life is to have the proper packaging, that is airtight and protects against direct sunlight, oxygen, and heat. If your intention is long term storage, it should be kept in a freezer for the longest shelf life.
Signs of Rancid Lard
Spoiled lard is bitter in taste, has a soapy aroma, and likely some discoloration. If you pay attention to taste, smell, and sight, you’ll notice signs of spoilage and can decide if it needs to be thrown away.
Other Purposes of Lard
As preppers, it is important to know other uses of lard outside of baking and cooking. Lard is a versatile tool and has been used for generations for everyday chores and self-care. Some ideas for using lard are:
Burnish leather and wood
For more ways to reuse lard after it has gone rancid, consider our article on environmentally friendly way of disposing of fats and oils and giving it a purpose.
Pork fat is a superfood and versatile tool, that should be kept in an emergency food pantry. If stored properly in a freezer, the lard can last over 2 years and continue to provide your family with a nutritious, natural, and flavorful fat.
At Soulful Prepper we discourage using GMO vegetable oils since they are known to cause heart disease and raise bad cholesterol. We think having natural fats and oils is a great and healthy alternative to provide ourselves with healthy fats that are essential for our bodies to operate.
If you are interested in learning more about food storage, check out our other articles:
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