For centuries lard also known as rendered pig fat is useful for cooking and baking purposes. Most people keep lard in their pantry or on the countertop near the stove, but lard stays, the freshest longest when you keep it in the refrigerator between uses. Not doing so will cause the lard to spoil making it too rancid to use for making piecrust, crispy chicken, juicy pork chops or any other scrumptious dish.
Image used under Creative Commons from bob walker
What is the exact shelf life of lard?
The exact shelf life of lard if stored properly in a sealed up container or jar in the refrigerator is a year. If you want to extend the shelf life of lard even longer, freezing the lard in freezer safe containers can keep it preserved for up to 3 years. You should never try freezing lard in its original packaging. This is because the fat typically comes in aluminum or paper wrapping tucked inside a box. Freezing lard in its original packaging will cause it to become frost burned and change in flavor and texture. Always remove your lard from its original packaging and place it in freezer safe containers if you want to freeze it and extend the shelf life of it.
Another way you can freeze lard is by cubing it up while it is in a soft state, placing the cubes onto a waxed paper lined cookie sheet and freezing the cubes in the freezer for about an hour or two this way. Once the lard cubes freeze and become a solid form you can remove from them from the freezer and plop them into freezer bags. After, you place the lard cubes back into the freezer to store and keep fresh for up to two years this way. The best part about these cubes is you can simply take out exactly what you need and not have to defrost all of it just to get a small tablespoon out of it to use. After all, defrosting lard and freezing it again will change the flavor and texture of it. Overtime, doing this process can cause the lard to become rancid and no good to use. In fact, if you try cooking or baking with it, your food will taste rancid too. It is always best to freeze lard once and never again after that.
Defrosted lard can keep in the refrigerator safely without spoiling for up to 6 months. However, if it begins smelling rancid before 6 months it is wise to toss it out and go get some new lard to use to prevent food poisoning from occurring.
Lard that is stored on top of the counter top near the stove only last about a month before going rancid and that is when it is stored in a sealed container. Never store your lard in an open container in one of your kitchen cabinets because mice, rats and insects will feed on it and cause it too spoil or become contaminated with fecal matter and harmful bacteria that is dangerous to your health. This is why it is essential for you to store your lard in the refrigerator instead of in the kitchen cabinet. However, if you must store it in your kitchen cabinet because you love the soft texture it contains always be sure to check for spoiling before using it by making sure the color, texture and smell of it has not become rancid.
End Notes for Lard
If you are unsure if your lard has gone bad after reading this bit of information, it is wise to toss out your lard and just get some new lard to use instead. Remember, lard always stores best and keeps fresh refrigerator. Leaving it out on the counter top or in your kitchen cabinets in open counters will extract mice, rats and insects. Always store your lard in a well sealed airtight container whether storing in your kitchen cabinets or refrigerator.