Does Lard Go Bad? What You Need To Know To Ensure Safety

Lard is famous among cookaholics and chefs alike as an alternative to butter. It is ideal for pies and pastries, as it adds an unmistakable crispy texture to any baked goods. Its unique smoky flavor makes it an invaluable secret ingredient for enhancing the taste of homemade delicacies.

Does lard go bad? Lard will, in fact, go bad at some point. Even though lard contains saturated fats, thus being relatively stable, it will go rancid after four to six months at room temperature, or one year in the refrigerator.

You must remember that lard is pig fat, obtained by specific parts of the animal that contain a large amount of adipose tissue, such as the belly or the shoulder. These parts are slowly boiled or steamed for a long time, until the fat separates from the meat and bones, in a process called rendering.

After that, the lard undergoes other processes, such as clarifying, that give it its characteristic white color and barely perceptible taste. After that, it is ready for cooking. The process can be performed at home, but it is always best to rely on professionals to avert the presence of impurities.

As a fat of animal origin, it is prone to go rancid if not stored properly. However, if you take the appropriate measures to keep it fresh, you will gain a matchless ally in the kitchen. Many professional bakers are turning to lard as its low-temperature melting point creates steam during the cooking process, for flaky, light, and mouth-watering pies. There are number of different choices in getting to enjoy your own lard, and if the old-fashioned way does not work out for you. There are plenty of options you can get delivered to your door, like the highly rated Bulk Beef Tallow. Feel free to learn more from Amazon, here!

In any case though, for those interested in the steps taken above, take a gander at this seasoned outdoorsman and his in-depth explanation about the process that is undertaken to naturally render and produce lard.

How to Store Lard: Fail-Proof Tips for Making It Last Longer

Luckily for kitchen aficionados, lard has a relatively long shelf life by nature. This type of fat belongs to a class of hydrocarbons characterized by its stability. Furthermore, bacteria cannot easily break down the large molecules of lard. As such, lard does not strictly need particular attention to remain fresh for several weeks.

But if you want or need to store your lard for a longer period, there are several ways to do so. You can store lard at room temperature, in the fridge, or the freezer. Every storage method will lead to different shelf life and have its advantages and shortcomings.

  1. Can I Store Lard at Room Temperature?

To make sure that you enhance its durability and can enjoy its full taste as long as possible, you should know how to store it in an appropriate manner. The first thing many people wonder about is whether lard can be stored at room temperature. Indeed yes, it can!

However, if you opt for keeping your lard at room temperature, make sure you put it in a sealed container, as oxygen can make it go bad faster. Also, keep it out of direct sunlight or any other source of heat.

It would be better to keep lard in colored glass or plastic containers, as transparent glass may let in too much sunlight. Ideally you would be able to store it within an air-tight container, like the kind from Rubbermaid. Take a quick look here for its listening on Amazon. In any case, the ideal place to keep it is a cool, dark, and dry area of your home, such as a pantry or storage closet. In these conditions, lard will last up to six months.

  1. How to Store Lard in the Fridge

The downside of storing lard at room temperature is that—no matter if the container is tightly sealed—lard can still attract mice. If you fear rodents might reach your lard, it would be best to refrigerate it.

In this case, double-check that the container is hermetically sealed, as lard can absorb flavors from the air around it. Also, remember to only keep out the lard when you need it and put it back immediately after, so that its temperature remains constant. In the fridge, lard will last between six months and one year.

  1. Safe Storage of Lard in the Freezer

Finally, you can keep lard in the freezer to further extend its durability. If you decide that this is the right option for you, use wax paper to wrap the lard. Then, add another layer of foil or plastic wrap to keep it airtight.

Even in the freezer, if lard comes in contact with air it will inevitably pick up unwanted flavors. Therefore, the recommendation to make sure it is completely sealed remains valid. You can also cut your lard into cubes before freezing. This will make it easier to take out just as much as you need. If frozen, lard can last up to two years.

Do You Have to Refrigerate Lard After Opening or Better Not?

As stated above, refrigerating lard does increase its shelf life. However, it is not always necessary to keep it in the fridge or the freezer. Whether or not you should do so depends on your cooking habits.

If you use lard sporadically or in small amounts, it is probably best to keep it refrigerated. You probably do not want it to go bad after having used just a little bit of this delightful ingredient! If you refrigerate the lard, you can be sure it will still be good when you will be again in the mood for making something delicious!

On the contrary, if you use lard frequently or in larger amounts, and your stash is usually over within a few weeks, it won’t be indispensable to put it in the refrigerator. As lard has a shelf life of four to six months when kept at room temperature, you don’t have to worry about it going rancid. Just make sure that its container is sealed to avoid the intrusion of pests or pets.

In case you are a frequent user of lard, keeping it in the fridge will only lead to unnecessary cluttering, and you risk that it will take unwanted flavors or smells from the other foods. In short, unless you have to store lard for an extended period of time, it is safe to keep it at room temperature.

Below Is a Chart Highlighting Effective Ways to Store Lard According to Everyday Cooks:

How to preserve lard Percentage of total results
For storing over extended periods of time, freezing your lard is the best way to go.53.85%
A less effective, but extremely popular alternative for storing your lard is with air-tight plastic containers.30.77%
A temporary way for storing lard is by using zip-lock bags.15.38%
Data derived from multiple online cooking forums

How Long Does Lard Last in the Freezer? Is It Safe for Use?

Most people will only use lard sporadically, and thus wonder how it would be possible to keep it from spoiling for a long time. The best way to ensure that lard remains fresh for up to two years is to store it in the freezer, adequately wrapped to maintain its mild flavor.

When you store lard in the freezer, remember not to use the original packaging, especially if it’s made of cardboard. A layer of wax paper, followed by proper sealing into a freezer bag should do the trick and ensure you can enjoy your lard even two years from now!

Not only can lard be safely stored in the freezer, but it doesn’t need defrosting should you need it for making a last-minute dinner. You just need to cut a slice of the size that you need, and you are good to go.

If you need to knead the lard with other ingredients to make the dough for a pie or delicious cookies, just let it sit for a few minutes at room temperature until it becomes soft enough. If you need it for frying, then you can toss it in the pan still frozen and let it melt naturally in the heated pan.

Can I Use Out of Date Lard? Follow these Safety Measures

The expiration date on the packaging of your lard is normally a reliable indicator of when you can expect it to start deteriorating. However, as seen in this article, if you store your lard properly you can significantly increase its shelf life.

As such, you can consider the expiration date as more of a guideline than a compelling order. After all, it is thought out to give you a general idea of how long you can expect the product to last in normal conditions.

If you take the extra mile to make sure your lard is preserved in the best possible way, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to use it after its expiration date. In fact, frozen lard can last for years!

However, it is sensible to always verify that the texture, smell, taste, or color of your lard has not undergone worrying changes. If you notice any of these features are altered, do not hesitate to get rid of the leftover lard, as it has most likely gone bad.

Can Old Lard Make You Sick? Beware of the Dangerous Effects

Rancidity is what happens when a source of fat is unduly exposed to heat, direct light, or oxygen. Under these conditions, the molecules of fat break down into smaller particles known as fatty acids. As a result, oxidation takes place, resulting in the production of free radicals.

The damage that the human body receives from free radicals is the source of many chronic health problems, from cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases to cancer. You may also present higher risks of developing asthma, diabetes, degenerative eye diseases, and senile dementia.

So, if you are wondering if old lard can make you sick, the answer is yes. However, if you accidentally consume old lard once, it won’t make you sick. Rancid lard only becomes an issue if you consume it repeatedly, thus causing damage to your body’s cells.

If you fear you might have eaten rancid lard, do not worry too much. Make sure to enrich your diet with a lot of antioxidants in the following days. If you are unsure if your lard has gone bad, check that its look, smell, and taste are normal. 

What Does Rancid Lard Smell Like? Beware of These Signals

When you want to assess whether your lard has gone rancid, you must trust your senses. To understand if the lard is still good, or rather if it is the moment to toss it out, you can follow three effortless steps involving your eyes, nose, and mouth.

  1. Are There Mold or Bite Marks on Your Lard?

The first thing to do is to use your sight. Check thoroughly your lard. If you notice any sign of discoloration or—even worse—of mold, toss it out immediately. Unfortunately, there are two bad news for you. First, your lard is spoilt beyond salvation. Second, pure lard does not grow mold.

If you see mold on your lard, it means that the process of rendering was not long and accurate enough. As such, there might have been unwanted pieces of meat or skin in the lard all along and thus unsuitable to bake anything that you do not want to taste like pork.

One other thing that might happen is that you see bite marks on your lard or notice that some small pieces have gone missing. If this is the case, it means that mice and other pests have gotten to your lard, and it is imperative to throw it away.

  1. How to Recognize the Smell of Rancid Lard

The second step is to use your smell. If nothing seems wrong at a first glance, it is the moment to smell the lard. If the odor it emanates seems off, it is the moment to toss the lard. Rancid lard will smell acidic, stale, and overall unpleasant.

The odor of rancid lard can be compared to that of varnish, play dough, or wet cardboard. According to the specialist in integrative medicine Andrew Weil, rancid lard smells like oil paint. In short, it is hard to miss the hint if lard has gone rancid.

  1. Taste the Lard To Figure If It’s Still Good

Finally, if nothing seems off in terms of looks and smell, try tasting the lard. Lard should have a mild, barely perceptible flavor that can best be described as “smoky”. If your lard has a strong, acidic taste, it is most likely rancid and no more suitable for use.

As sad as it can be throwing away some food, it is necessary to preserve your health. In the long term, consuming rancid fats can have serious adverse effects on your body. Why should you run the risk?

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