My Momma’s Can of Lard… The Most Valuable Item in the Kitchen!

Photo: Lard, courtesy of Rasbak
Photo: Lard, courtesy of Rasbak

When I think of my childhood spent betwixt two mountains in an Appalachian community you probably wouldn’t know if I told you, one of the immediate memories that comes to my mind is my dear mother.

A God-fearing and honest woman, she was without a doubt the busiest and hardest working woman in our home.

I have no idea what time she awoke each morning — I just know it was always long before I sprang to life; I can’t really recall very many memories of ever seeing the woman sleep.

For me, each day would begin with the smell of grease and bacon sizzling in an iron skillet.  Entering the kitchen, my eyes would would fix upon the sight of my saintly mother pouring the oily remains of bacon into a coffee can.  That burning liquid was more precious to her than all the gold in California or all the cows in Texas — it was her “hog lard” and us kids were never allowed to touch it!

Daddy always said you could use every part of a pig but the squeal and my mother proved this to be true every time she entered our humble kitchen.

I’ve seen her use bacon grease in everything from seasoning beans and making gravy to frying pork rinds and even making lye soap.  On a couple of occasions, it was even used to make popcorn!

Crisco oil, vegetable oil, and olive oil were words we had never known, but we all knew about momma’s precious hog lard — who could forget watching that brownish-white color melt like wax in a blackened iron skillet?

Ahh, those were the days!  We didn’t have much money, but we had hog lard and that was more valuable to us than paper money and silver.

The world has changed drastically since we bid farewell to my mother and pledged to one day see her again far beyond those West Virginia hills — most of which has been for the worse.  But one of the biggest losses we seldom recognize is just how low quality our food has become.

I feel bad for the kids of this generation, as they have no idea how good food once tasted!

We, and everyone else we knew, ate “organic” back then… We just called it food!

Today, I struggle to even eat “modern green beans” simply because they lack the most important ingredient — momma’s lard!

Sure, eating everything soaked in pig oil probably wasn’t the most healthy thing we could have done, but the biggest difference between then and now is that after we got done eating that hardy and greasy breakfast, we went out into the fields to work and didn’t return until sundown.

Ahh, the good ole days.  Our hands were dirty, our hearts were clean and coffee cans were filled with hog lard!

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