Is there such a thing as lard that isn't hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated? So far I haven't been successful at finding any. Also, does lard need to be refrigerated? Thanks for any help.
Lard is rendered pig or hog fat, no it doesn't have to be refrigerated.
You can get non-hydrogenated lard by rendering it yourself. The kind you buy in grocery stores is likely to be hydrogenated to make it more shelf-stable, but I can imagine some natural food stores might have pure, rendered lard. Natural lard should be stored in the fridge, as its lack of hydrogenation makes it more vulnerable to going off.
This link talks about different types of lard: http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-lard.htm
.... about obtaining pig fat to make your own lard - s/he may have advice to offer, too.
Hell, offer them bread in exchange - that's how I keep my fave butchers/deli owners on side :)
Thank you all for your answers to my questions. I appreciate the information!
I found a local butcher who sold me some leaf lard. Leaf lard, is the "flare" or visceral fat deposit surrounding pork kidneys and at the inside of the pork loin. There is very little pork flavor in this lard wich makes it VERY good for pie crusts. pastries, and even bread. It is a bit expensive but produces amazing results.
I rendered it myself in a crock pot. A Google search will help you with the proceedure. Next time I'll do it outside; it creates a rather odd smell during the process that made me worry I might have done something wrong or would produce lard that tasted the way the process smelled. I ended up with pure white lard that had no odor and almost no taste. I froze some and and kept the rest in the fridge. It is my understanding that this type of lard should be kept in the fridge, unlike hydrogenated lard.
Thank you Scott. I do have a butcher I can ask. I appreciate the reply.
Just fyi, obtaining fresh pork fat is a lot easier than you may think. Just about every large grocery store has a butcher and I was surprised at how accommodating they are, they cut pork everyday and all the trimmings go out in the trash. They'll save you some and only charge some nomial amount. As mentioned above, leaf lard is quite a different story.
Grocery store lard may be hydrogenated for the same reasons that shortening is hydrogenated.
Many Mexican groceries sell rendered leaf lard, but in my experience it's not always of the highest quality, so you may have to try a few places to get a good source. I usually want it for pie crusts, and I don't want it smelling of pork. (In beans and other cooking, that's fine!) Luckily, I have a custom pork place in town and they render leaf lard on a regular basis. They do recommend it be refrigerated or frozen. I freeze it and have kept it for a number of months. Check your local farmer's market and see if you have a pig farmer who sells lard.
So far no luck on finding the leaf lard locally, but I'm told it is very difficult to come by. I've actually seen some commercial leaf lard on the web that has already been rendered. A bit pricey, but given the scarcity of the product, probably worth it.
In northern Calif, it's available from Prather Ranch.