Farm Journal 1/2/22

NOTICE THAT DATES AND TIMES OF PICK UP HAVE CHANGED. (hopefully they coincide with the website.)

$30 order minimum for delivery into the city

Where to find our stuff! (There’s still fresh veggies!!) Place your online order here. Give us a 24 hours heads up please

Check out our new mugs!

The Farm – WEDNESDAY (11 – 7). We’ll set your order out, you come pick it up.

Northside – Wednesday 12:30 – 1:00 at the parking lot on Union Place by Allegheny Commons. Ask about delivery options.

Squirrel Hill – We’re currently dropping this location. There’s not enough consistent orders to schedule a delivery there – BUT! Do reach out about home delivery (with a minimum order of $50 for home delivery) or meeting up. We’re flexible.

CSA Share Sales are OPEN!

We’ve made it through 2021 and are ready for 2022! Shares are now open and are at the 2021 prices until Feb 1 – when we’ll give them a bit of a goose and raise prices then.

You can buys basic weekly pickup and half shares at the farm, Northside Market, East Liberty Market, Squirrel Hill Market, and Mt Lebanon Uptown Market. Limited amounts of shares are available at the markets, as we only have so much room for hauling!

Top 9 instagram posts for 2021

Pork back in stock soon!

We sent a few pigs off to freezer camp last week and will be getting cuts back from the butcher soon. We’ll have the much desired shoulder roasts, tenderloins and pork chops back in the freezers! Until then, you out to seriously consider some fat (see below)!

Pig Wifery – by Greg

Absolutely no part of the pig is more diversely used than the fat. For all you Preppers, Homesteaders, DIY enthusiasts, culinary mavericks: we need to all acknowledge this multipurpose, and most delicious part of the hog.

When I talk about the reasons for getting into raising pigs or the purpose of communally raising an animal with such a sordid past, destructive tendencies, and deep cultural stereotypes, the answer always includes…. Fat.  There are actually very few types of abundant saturated fats which can be produced around the 40th parallel. Coconuts, palm tree and olives don’t grow here.

Cows are our second choice of local saturated fats next to the pig.  However cows, especially grass fed ones, don’t have nearly the fat content as grain fed animals, but do provide a saturated fat.  Further, their milk can be refined to provide butter… another local saturated fat.

Pigs, on the other hand, especially our grain-fed, pasture raised ones, get the best of all diets and yield 11% lard by hanging weight. They forage for grubs and roots, and also get a full daily ration of nonGMO beans, corn and oats to maximize health and growth.

1. Bacon cereal
One of the most impactful articles I’ve read, which had significantly altered my opinion and beliefs about lard was published by the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) in 2018.

In this article, the BBC reported on a new scientific approach to ranking foods based on overall/total broad-range nutrition, rather than higher concentrations, like oranges with vitamin C and carrots with beta carotene.  Rather, the scientists specifically ranked foods by how well they satisfied (without exceeding) all of the daily nutritional requirements. They analyzed and ranked 1000 food ingredients.  Here’s the link to their scientific study papers and dataset:

What was the most mind blowing to me was that pig fat appeared at #8 on this list… Between beet greens (#9) and swiss chard (#7).  What!!?  Lard is the #8 most nutritious food on planet Earth?  According to nutritional scientists and the BBC… Yes it is.

Apparently, lard (the backfat part anyway) only has 40% saturated fat.  The rest of the backfat is mono and polyunsaturated, much like almond or olive oil.  Pasture raised lard has a higher concentration of Omega-3 and less Omega-6 fatty acids than lard from pigs raised in confinement. And this combination of unsaturated fats and good omegas actually give lard a decent culinary advantage, especially given that its smoke point is above 400 degrees Fahrenheit, making an ideal cooking oil.

Rendering lard is extremely easy if you have a crock pot or a large stock pot. We actually request the fat to be cut into cubes by the butcher to make rendering even easier. Simply dump the bag of lard cubes (5#) into your cooking pot and set it to low for 8-12 hours.  Come back to deliciousness. It’s best to add a cup of water while starting up the process to help defrost the cubes.  it will evaporate throughout the cooking. Once the fat is rendered, pour it all through a colander, screen or sieve to separate the liquid lard from the solid bits. 

The bits remaining in the colander are not waste!  They are the same stuff (cellularly) as the lighter/white parts of bacon! Slide them back into the pot and increase the temperature to medium or higher (if you are attending). More fat will come out but won’t be as mild as the first batch, use it for saute grease rather than in recipes, basically like bacon grease. The bits will eventually lose all of their fat, and shrink down to melt-in-your-mouth bacony bits, just add a little salt once they are drained and try desperately to restrain yourself from eating them all at once… by the spoonful… like a very very fatty kind of warm bacon cereal.

2. Fat cleans the farm

What else do we use lard for here at the farm?  Mostly, since there is a persistent negative cultural disposition to eating it, we often have a large stockpile.  To use it up, we make soap.  The diversity of fatty acids provides great moisturizing and conditioning qualities to the soap.  I find pure lard soap too soft (because 60% is unsaturated fats) and unsaturated soaps dissolve quickly when in use.  I like harder bars that last forever, which are made from saturated fats.

We also needed lather… like intense Santa beard thick lather which is unfortunately impossible with pure lard soap, because the fatty acids which make the best bubbles aren’t in lard.  I researched and found castor oil (a liquid/unsaturated fat) to have a unique type of fatty acid (ricinoleic) which makes crazy bubbles.  So, to balance the unsaturated fats, I also started adding coconut oil (solid saturated fat) to make the bar harder and give it additional cleaning/lathering properties.

It’s literally our Everyday Soap

3. Fat can drive the farm

Before farming, I had an office job at a non-profit which promoted and taught people how to produce bio-diesel fuel from fats. Just mentioning it as a bit of resilience we’ve established, but gratefully we are not currently in the desperate position to use pig fat in our tractors…. But it’s possible to run most of our farm on this remarkable, abundant local “by-product”.

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