Lard almost seems like a thing of the past. It is the stuff my grandpa made pie crusts and other old world dishes. I don’t think we ever had it in our house when I was growing up. It was just something grandpa used that made his desserts and meals yummy.
In an attempt to relive my youth, I recently picked up some lard at the store to try to recreate some of my grandpa’s cooking. While we won’t talk about that, a few questions came to mind when I opened the lard packaging. One of those questions was “Does lard go bad?”
Lard is essentially pig fat taken from various fat portions of the pig. There are different grades of lard based on where it is obtained from the pig body. The lard (fat) is typically rendered, which means it is heated low and slow until the fat softens and separates from any remaining portion of the pig.
The lard you buy in the grocery store is typically a mixture of higher and lower quality types of lard. However, you will likely not buy pure rendered pig fat at the store. In most cases it will have different agents introduced into it to prevent spoilage and protect the flavor.
In theory, lard does go bad but it keeps for a very long time. Generally, the rule of thumb for store-bought lard is one year when stored in the cupboard at normal room temperature or in the refrigerator. It should be kept away from a heat source like the stove or heater.
Lard will keep for two years and likely much longer if kept in the freezer. However, the original packaging should not be used for freezing. The lard that I recently bought came in a cardboard box with a wax paper surrounding the lard. This clearly isn’t the best freezer ready packaging. Ideally, the lard with the original packaging intact should be transferred to a freezer bag or container and properly sealed before freezing. Lard will usually maintain its texture and taste upon thaw as long as it is sealed properly. Thawed lard will last several months in the refrigerator but you should check for spoilage before use.
The key to a long shelf life is in how it is stored and the conditions it is stored in. We leave you with this somewhat amazing story (<—click the link) from the BBC that shows how a tin of lard was still edible after 64 years of being stored in a cupboard.
Photo Credit: Julie Frost