I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!
By Kimia Raafat, KF10 Paraguay
Although lard has always been a popular alternative to butter, and a readily accessible by-product of pork, I have somehow managed to remain a lard simpleton—until now! Upon approaching the home of one Fundación Paraguaya borrower, Gloria Elizabeth Cabrera de Echeverria, I expected to find a typical despensa (general store) or home tailoring store, instead I was kindly greeted by the lingering scent of rendered pig-fat!
Gloria produces and sells bottles of lard to local bakeries. The bakeries use the animal oil to cut down their operational costs, a bottle of oil sells for less than a package of butter of equal size. Gloria also argues that the animal oil leaves the bakeries a certain intangible quality (read: smell) that butter lacks. Although some may be offended by the Nutritional Facts associated with animal fat, I appreciate Gloria’s ingenuity, one man’s pig scraps is Gloria’s money maker!
So how does one produce their own animal oil? Gloria takes the fresh cuts (one-inch cubes) of animal fat (usually pigs, but sometimes cows) and melts or “renders” them over an outdoor grill. It is recommended that one only attempt grease production outdoors, in a well ventilated area. The cubes of meat are cooked with water over medium heat, as the solid “melts” into oil. One pound of fat will yield about 2¼ cups of grease. So you can only imagine how many pounds of fat Gloria burned to produce this barrel (see video below)!'
On production days, Gloria often spends from noon to midnight burning fat. Taking advantage of the fresh fat, can often be trying on her schedule. Raw animal fat can quickly become rancid, so she will stay awake as long as she needs to, in order to burn all the fresh cuts.
As she described her laborious schedule, Gloria looked at me, eyes swimming with motherly conviction, and she said “I do this so my kids stay in school (which they have!). Please keep working, so that you never end up like me.”
Kimia Raafat is a Kiva Fellow (KF9/KF10) working with Fundación Paraguaya in Asunción, Paraguay. Click here, if you would like to know more about Fundación Paraguaya or feel free to send questions, comments, or requests for future blog topics to firstname.lastname@example.org.