Whether you are a frequent baker or one that simply dabbles from time to time, the chances are that you have encountered lard as an ingredient. If this describes you, the chances are also relatively high that it has been left out on the counter before. Of course, seeing as fat can act as a preservative, it seems only natural that this might be just the place for it. However, what if we were to tell you that this is far from ideal?
So, because there are many misconceptions about this relatively commonly used food product, we thought it would be a good idea to put together a handy list of do’s and don’ts to make sure that you don’t end up throwing out copious amounts of the stuff. So, if you’re wondering whether the lard you have will go off or is gone off, you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we will go through how to store it, how to make it last longer, and how to tell the signs that it is no longer any good.
Table of Contents
Does Lard Go Bad?
Contrary to common belief, lard just isn’t one of those products that can simply take care of itself. If the surface of lard it left exposed to the elements all sorts of foreign bodies can attach themselves to it, causing it to go off pretty rapidly. However, all of this unpleasantness can be avoided if a few precautions are taken.
How Do I Store Lard?
Now that we have established that leaving lard out on the countertop is actually a bad idea, it is time to reveal how to store it correctly. The key to storing many fats is to limit their exposure to such things as air and moisture. With an unopened package, it is also a good idea to keep it away from sources of heat which can cause the structure of the lard to change. As such, provided you are not living in a particularly warm environment, the lard can be kept in the pantry or in a kitchen cabinet.
Once a package of lard has been opened, it is very important that it is resealed immediately after use. Should the original packaging not be re-sealable, your best bet is to transfer the lard into a freezer bag instead. Alternatively, a container that seals up tightly will also suffice. In either eventuality, the best place to store it for a longer timespan after it has been opened is in the fridge. Should it be the case that you haven’t got any room left in your fridge, the pantry will do just fine for a short stay.
Should You Refrigerate Lard?
There is no real reason to refrigerate unopened packages of lard unless you live somewhere very warm. Most pantries and kitchen cabinets will be cool enough to keep the lard in. However, this all changes as soon as the package has been opened. At this point, the lard will have come into contact with air that will age it rapidly. The best way to slow the passage of time is to reduce the temperature at which the lard is stored. The fridge is definitely the best option out there.
Can You Freeze Lard?
If you aren’t planning to use lard regularly, the best way to prevent it going off is to freeze the section that you don’t think you will get around to using. Though the shelf-life of lard is quite long, it can be extended dramatically in this way – great if you have bulk-bought. However, there is one potential pitfall that is to be avoided at all costs. The texture of the lard will change dramatically if it is continuously and repetitively frozen and thawed. To avoid this, the best move is to chop it up before freezing so you only have to thaw as much as you need at any one time.
How Long Does Lard Last?
Lard can last a spectacularly long time if stored correctly and unopened. This is due to the fact that fats generally are quite hostile to bacteria growth and lard, as the name suggests, is almost entirely fat. However, by no means does this mean that it is indestructible. You will notice that the package comes with a sell-by date. This sell-by date, though a relatively good indicator of when the quality of the lard would begin to fade, doesn’t really need to be followed as gospel. In fact, you can potentially still use unopened lard that has been stored in the pantry or fridge for up to 6 months after the sell-by date has passed. However, before using lard this old, we would recommend reading our section below which will help you recognize the signs that the lard is no longer safe to use.
The act of opening the package doesn’t necessarily mean that the lard will expire much faster. In fact, should all the right storage techniques be used, the lard can last just as long as an unopened package would. Nevertheless, we would not recommend using opened packages of lard that are more than 3 months beyond their expiry date.
Should it be the case that you have frozen your excess lard, you may be surprised to hear that it will still expire at some point. Though it may well keep for longer than 2 years, the quality of the lard will begin to fade rapidly after the two year mark. As such, using it within this timeframe is advised.
How Do I Make Lard Last Longer?
Tupperware containers and re-sealable bags are the best way to ensure that your lard will stay good for the longest possible amount of time. Even in the case of unopened packages, putting them in a Tupperware container in the larder is an advised extra measure to make sure nothing gets at it. This way, it will be more protected from heat, moisture, and any foreign bodies. If you really want to pad out the lifespan of the lard, the other thing you can do is to put it into the freezer. Here, it can last for up to two years.
Signs That Your Lard May Have Gone Off
Though we have given some estimates of when lard will go off, sometimes things can happen that we couldn’t possibly have foreseen. A simple breach in the packaging or too many temperature changes can really accelerate the process of spoiling. Thankfully, the signs that your lard may have expired are relatively easy to spot, minimizing the chance that you could ruin a bake with it. Like with any other fat-based products such as nuts or vegetable oils, there is always a chance that the fat can go rancid. In this case, the smell will instantly alert you to the fact that something is not quite right. Other signs of spoilage may include changes in color, smell, and in some extreme cases, the presence of mold. Naturally, if you notice any of these signs, the only thing to do is to discard the whole block. Do not attempt to cut off the ‘bad’ bits to preserve the good bits as these bits will also be spoiled.