Lard is rich pork fat that is often used for frying and baking.
However, it’s not something you use on a day-to-day basis, so that you may end up with a tub of lard sitting in the back of your fridge for months.
If this has happened to you, you may be wondering: Does lard go off?
While lard has a very long shelf life, it will go off after six months to a year, depending on how it is stored.
When you are dealing with animal by-products like lard, it is essential to know when it has gone bad, so you don’t make yourself sick. Luckily the process of making it ensures that it has a long shelf-life.
- What is Lard?
- Does Lard Go Bad?
- How To Tell if Your Lard Has Gone Bad?
- How Long Does Lard Last?
- What is the Best Way to Store Lard?
In this article, we are going to learn a bit more about lard as well as discover how long lard can last and the best way to store it to keep it fresh.
Let’s dive in.
What is Lard?
Lard is a semi-solid white fat that is derived from pigs.[*]
The fatty tissue is taken from the back, around the loins, and where it covers the internal organs. This is then rendered off to separate the fat from protein and water.
This results in fat that can be hard or have a slightly whipped texture.
If the fat is well rendered, it should be completely odorless and flavorless.
While it does have a high level of saturated fats, it also has a decent helping of healthy monounsaturated fats. This makes lard a healthier option than some cooking oils.
In the shops, you will find lard in tubs or in blocks wrapped in paper in the dairy section.
Lard is used predominantly as cooking oil for frying, but it can also be used in sausages, pates, fillings, and pastries.
It can be used in a very similar way to oil or butter.
Traditionally, corn tortillas are made in Mexico using maize flour and lard.
Does Lard Go Bad?
Lard has a very long shelf-life, but it will eventually go bad.
We suggest checking your lard before each use to make sure it’s good.
But to do that, we need to know what fresh lard looks like.
Fresh lard will be:
1. Neutral Scent
The first sign of fresh lard is the smell.
The packaging should have little to no noticeable scent when you open the packaging.
2. Neutral Flavor
The next test is to taste it.
Fresh lard should have a completely neutral flavor with no aftertaste.
3. Smooth, White Consistency
Finally, you can look at the texture.
The fat will be hard and slightly crumbly if you have a block, but it will be somewhat softer in a tub.
How To Tell if Your Lard Has Gone Bad?
As you can see, it’s very easy to tell when lard is fresh.
On the other hand, how do you know if your lard has gone bad?
Bad lard will be:
1. Rancid Odor
The first thing you will notice is a rancid smell when you open the packaging.
So, what does rancid lard smell like? The scent will be strong and sour in contrast to the neutral smell when you first bought it. If this happens, you should get rid of it and avoid tasting it.
2. Mold May Be Present
The second sign to look out for is mold and a change in texture.
Some mold might appear around the corners and grow in a blue hue.
The texture may also be compromised, making the lard watery or more crumbly.
3. Bad Taste
If you aren’t sure of the smell and you can’t see any mold, then you may need to taste it.
The flavor will be strong and very unpleasant, indicating that it should be discarded immediately.
How Long Does Lard Last?
Lard has a long shelf life, between 6 months and a year.
As with most ingredients, the shelf life is dependent on how well you store it.
Even though this is an animal by-product, the rendering process means that the fat will have a longer shelf-life.
If you follow our instructions below, there is no reason that your lard won’t last a year.
What is the Best Way to Store Lard?
While it can be stored at room temperature, we suggest keeping your lard refrigerated.
Whatever you choose, ensure that you are storing it correctly so it will last as long as possible.
Follow these instructions to keep your lard nice and fresh:
1. Assess the Packaging
This step all depends on what form you bought the lard in.
If you bought it in a tub or jar, you could keep it in this packaging because they will likely have tight-fitting lids.
If you bought it in a block, we recommend unwrapping the block of lard and transferring it into a Ziploc bag and sealing it tight.
Discard the packaging as this can sometimes promote mold growth.
2. Store in a Cool, Dark Place
Storing your lard in a cupboard is perfectly safe; however, the shelf-life will not be as long.
Place the tub or Ziploc bag in a dark cupboard away from the stove to prevent any heat from getting to it.
Our number one suggestion for storing lard is in the fridge.
If you place the Ziploc or tub in the fridge, it will last up to a year.
We don’t suggest freezing lard as it will negatively affect the texture.
4. Reseal Tightly After Use
Whether you have a jar or a Ziploc bag, make sure you seal them well after each use to keep the lard away from air.
What is the difference between lard and tallow?
Lard and tallow are very similar, as they are both white, rendered fats.[*]
The critical difference is that lard comes from pork fat while tallow comes from beef or lamb fat.
Can you use expired lard? Will rancid lard make you sick?
Luckily, eating a small amount of expired lard will not harm you.
However, if you carry on consuming it, you might become sick.
As we showed above, lard makes it very obvious when it is off, so it should be easy to avoid if you pay attention.
Doe lard taste like pork?
This depends on how processed your lard is. [*]
If your lard is well processed, then it should not have a porky flavor. It will be neutral in flavor and scent.
However, less rendered lard will have a slight porky flavor that may affect the dish you are cooking.
Lard is a very underutilized fat that we think needs to get more love. So what can we take away from all this?
- Lard has a shelf life of 6-12 months.
- Storing it in the fridge will increase the shelf life.
- You should always store your lard in an airtight container.
We hope this has answered all your questions about lard and inspired you to give it a try for yourself.
Up Next: Optimal Shelf Life of Oils