Homesteading Family Logo
This site contains affiliate links to products we recommend. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Fat Sources on the Homestead

Fat is stored energy. When looking at a self-sufficient homestead, fat sources must be considered. In this post, we’ll discuss why it’s important to raise fat sources on your homestead and how to do it!

A bottle of oil next to a spray bottle of oil.

You can buy your way out of many issues if/when they arise. You can purchase solar power and get off the electric grid. You can buy water backup and storage systems and get off the water grid. However, you can’t buy your way into food security. You can’t buy food security if you’re not growing or raising it yourself or supporting someone doing it the right way with enough to support you and your family.

Why Are Fats Important

Fats have gotten a bad rap in the last handful of decades. However, when you strip away all of the healthy or unhealthy discussion about fats, we realize just how imperative fats are to our survival.

We won’t discuss the differences between saturated and unsaturated fats or the omega 3 to omega 6 ratios. If you’ve never done a deep dive into the health and necessity of fats in your diet, I highly recommend you get a copy of Sally Fallon’s book Nourishing Traditions. You can also check out the Pantry Chat podcast, where she shared the top three dietary changes to drastically improve your health.

The Downside of Fat

One of the things to be aware of when it comes to sourcing high-quality fat is that toxins are stored in fat. Whether as humans or as animals, if something is exposed to toxins, those toxins are stored in the fat.

This is extremely important when buying fats from the grocery store. Butter from conventionally raised cattle will not be as healthy as butter made from cows on an all-grass diet.

Conventionally produced plant-based fats have their issues. The high-heat processing of these fats can denature or even change the fat makeup within the fat, creating health issues of their own. (Source)

A man crouched down beside a black pig.

Animal Sources of Fat

The first and most obvious source of fat on the homestead is from the animals being raised there. This includes fat from pigs and beef and milk/cream from dairy cows. You can also pull fat from sheep, geese, chickens and turkeys, which is also highly valuable on a homestead. But when it comes to putting up large quantities of fat, we’re just focusing on the pigs, and beef and dairy cows.

Pigs for Lard

Pigs will provide the largest amount of fat (lard) for their size. Bears will also provide lard, so if you’re a hunter, this is another option (though not always a yearly guarantee).

Lard has a higher smoke point and is safe for high-heat cooking and frying.

If you’re looking for lard pigs, choose from Kune Kunes, Mangalitsas, American Guinea Hogs and the Idaho Pasture Pig. The amount of lard produced per pig will vary based on breed and diet.

Learning how to render lard at home is a great skill to have. When rendered and stored correctly, home-rendered lard should last on the shelf for about a year, making it a fantastic homestead fat source.

Close up of a cow's face.

Beef for Tallow

Tallow is the fat from beef cattle. Venison, sheep and goats also produce tallow, which can be used in various ways. Tallow is safe for high-heat cooking and frying but also works great for household uses like soap making and sealing leather products.

A young girl milking a goat.

Dairy for Butter

We love making homemade butter from our cow’s milk. However, it is a constant process that happens week after week to make it happen.

While cow’s milk will naturally separate and is easily skimmable, goat’s milk is homogenized and will require a cream separator.

There’s a bit of a learning curve when it comes to washing the butter to remove all the milk (milk remaining in the butter is what spoils it more quickly). Furthermore, butter isn’t shelf-stable for more than a day or two, requiring refrigeration or freezing for longer storage.

Butter has a lower smoke point and is ideal for flavoring or finishing dishes. It can be used with minimal heat, such as adding a bit of butter at the end of cooking a steak or buttering your warm loaf of bread.

A sunflower with a bee.

Plant Sources for Fats

There’s a lot of discussion about the safety of using seed oils. However, remember there are many uses for fat around the homestead that don’t require ingestion of the oils. Even if you’re not into consuming seed oils, they still have a valuable place on the homestead.

Use seed oils to make homemade herbal oils, salves and balms.

Sunflower Oil (Seed Oils)

We’ve been growing sunflowers on the homestead to produce our own sunflower oil to use for cosmetics and herbal oils. This does require an oil press, but the process is very similar to grinding your own grain into flour.

Ten pounds of sunflower seeds (grown specifically for their oil) yields about one gallon of oil. This is something most homesteads could do, plus you have the added benefit of beautiful sunflowers in the garden all summer.

If you want to learn more about pressing your own oil, check out our podcast with Bevin Cohen.

Peanuts in the shell in a pile with a white background.
Photo credit: Heather Cohen

Peanut and Hazelnut Oil

If you live in a climate where you can grow peanuts underground, or a hazelnut tree, you can grow and press your own nut oils. The beauty of this is that the byproduct is a delicious peanut butter or hazelnut butter.

Olive Oil & Avocado Oil

Again, if you live in a warmer climate where olive trees and avocado trees can grow and thrive, you can press your own oils from the flesh of these fruits.

Four and a half pounds of olives yield about 8 Tablespoons of olive oil, whereas you will get about one tablespoon of avocado oil per avocado (the amount varies depending on the size of the fruit).

A knife cutting up pork lard with small portions of meat on them, on a wooden cutting board.

How to Maximize The Fat You Get Off Animals

  • Butcher Yourself – If you want to maximize the amount of fat you get off each animal, we highly recommend learning how to butcher yourself. You’ll take much more care of cutting out every piece of fat you see, whereas butchers process multiple animals a day. If you can’t butcher at home, then get to know your butcher and let them know the importance of the fat to your lifestyle.
  • Consider the Breed – There are specific breeds known for their fat production.
  • Feeding – As we said, toxins are stored in fat. High-quality animal feed will produce high-quality fat. Feed as cleanly as your budget allows. There are also feeding methods that create a fattier animal vs. a lean animal.

When thinking about building resiliency on the homestead, considering your fats is a key element. We hope this post has helped you think about ways to start sourcing your own fats. If you want to learn more about homestead resiliency, we encourage you to check out some of our other posts below.

Overhead view of a garden.

Josh: Hey you guys. This is Josh.

Carolyn: And Carolyn.

Josh: With Homesteading Family, and welcome to this week's episode of the Pantry Chat Food for Thought.

Carolyn: This week we're talking about why you should be raising more of your own fat sources on your homestead and how to do it.

Josh: Good stuff, increases health, helps with the budget.

Carolyn: All sorts of things. Lots of good reasons to do it.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: I'm going to dive into that in just a moment.

Josh: But in the meantime, got to have a little chit-chat. Of course, catch up with what's going on, answer a question or two from one of you guys and gals, and then we'll get to the subject. You can fast-forward ahead there. Check the timestamps if you're not interested in the chit-chat, but why not is my question.

Carolyn: Slow down a little bit. Have a cup of coffee.

Josh: Absolutely. Or a cup of tea.

Carolyn: Or a cup of tea. All right, so what have you been up to?

Josh: Whoo. It is springtime. Grass is growing. Gardens are happening. We are getting portable fencing out. We've got some of the grazing pigs out, about to get some more. Not too far from getting the sheep out, waiting for the cows, the dairy cows to calve.

Carolyn: That has always seemed like a long wait.

Josh: We've

Carolyn: Been on high alert with her for I think a month now this time.

Josh: She draws it out. Does she really does. This is Tilly. Tilly really seems to draw it out and make me constantly nervous. She's getting a little older. She's had a couple issues the last couple of years, which adds to the anxiety and we have a backup this year who's a lovely cow as well. So we might end up with two cows and milk and two cows, calves, which would be pretty exciting around here.

Carolyn: A lot of milk.

Josh: A lot of milk. Yep. We might be clabbering milk for pigs and chickens.

Carolyn: Yeah, we might be. Yeah.

Josh: Yeah, so getting stuff in the garden and just in the spring rush.

Carolyn: Yep.

Josh: Yep. What about you?

Carolyn: Yeah, well kind of the same thing obviously spring is spring on the homestead.

Josh: Spring has sprung.

Carolyn: Spring has sprung, especially in North Idaho. Our season is so short that it's like when it turns on, it turns on fast and you go pretty hard and fast. So I am still getting new starts started. Plant starts for the garden. Things like cucumbers and melons and squashes are all on the next round, next tier, just about to be started for us. By the time you guys are watching this, they will be already hopefully-

Josh: Well started up probably.

Carolyn: Hopefully.

And still babying along a few of the transplants that haven't gone out into the garden yet. Mostly tomatoes and bell peppers are hanging out, so we haven't gotten celery out yet. We could get that out here anytime, but we're just hardening that off and some new herbs for the cottage garden. So doing a lot with that. Then we just did the big chore switch around the household. So everybody now has different jobs, which means we're having to spend a little bit of extra time training people on their next job and that sort of a thing. That's always an exciting time of year.

Josh: Chore switch accomplishes two things. We have winter, fall mode and it's really spring, summer, fall mode and winter mode. Winter mode feels a little long around here because everything just shifts and so we've got to realign with the seasons, but then we also try to move people around, give them different experiences, allow them to do things they'd like to do if we can. Then just ages skills are changing, so we just have to rearrange our resources a little bit. So that's always an adjustment twice a year, but a good one.

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah. It takes a little extra time. But yeah, that's kind of what I've been up to for the most part. Just managing all of the spring stuff.

Josh: Very cool. It's on.

Carolyn: It is on.

Josh: All right, well with that, let's keep moving on.

Carolyn: Oh, hey, there is one other thing that I want to talk about really quickly. They just released my book for pre-sale, the Freeze Drying book that I've been writing, Freeze Drying Harvest, and it is now available for pre-sale, so that's really exciting. I did not expect that it would go in presale quite ... I've never worked a publisher before

Josh: Kind of earlier than you thought?

Carolyn: A new process for me and it happened really quickly and we're putting together a lot of really fun pre-sale bonuses that you get if you buy the book before it actually goes. It shifts in September, the end of September this year. So if you buy it anytime between now and then you get a whole bunch of goodies, extras, video series booklets, recipe booklets, all sorts of fun things.

Josh: Wow, cool. So are we able to drop any information?

Carolyn: Yeah, we'll put the link in for you.

Josh: Cool.

Carolyn: It's kind of fun. All right.

Josh: Exciting stuff.

Carolyn: Question of the day.

Josh: All right. Question of the day. This one's for you from Ruth McBride on the top 10 things to do to be Ready for Rocky 2024. Do you have the temp of the freeze dryer for freeze drying herbs?

Carolyn: Do you change? Okay?

Josh: Do you change the temp of the freeze dryer for freeze drying herbs a year later? Mine smelled incredible.

Carolyn: So yes, usually I drop my max temperature down on the freeze dryer to 95 degrees when I'm doing herbs or anything that is medicinal. And the reason is just to not damage those constituents of the herbs that are heat sensitive. When it comes to just culinary herbs, it's not necessary. You don't have to do that. You may end up with brighter flavors, especially for something like basil or cilantro, things that their flavor changes drastically when it goes through that heat process of dehydrating. Dehydrated cilantro just does not taste like fresh cilantro. It has a whole different flavor. Basil also, those things really benefit if you drop that temperature down. But for oregano or thyme, you don't have to, but I do recommend it. I feel like it preserves a little bit more of that medicinal quality of even those culinary herbs and gives you a little extra boost when you go to use them.

Josh: Very cool.

Carolyn: Yeah. Good way to go.

Josh: Good deal.

Carolyn: Okay.

Josh: Alrighty, moving on here. We're talking about fat on the homestead, why you need it and some things to think about.

Carolyn: In producing it.

Josh: Acquiring it, producing it. Yeah.

Carolyn: This is a little bit of a different topic because most of what we hear in modern culture is how we don't want fat. Get rid of fat off of our bodies, fat off of our diets, get rid of the fat. I think that this is the position of a wealthy nation and of wealthy people to be able to talk about fat in a way of like, oh, we don't want fat. Because when you actually get to a situation where you have to provide your own fat or your community has to provide your fat locally because maybe grocery stores aren't getting the deliveries they need, whatever might be happening in the world, fat is actually very hard to source. It's one of the harder things to source by yourself if you don't think about it.

Josh: Well, and fat is stored energy, so it's one of the reasons it is so, so important. I also think it has a bad rap, partly because it's probably been overused at times in our culture, but also the way the animals are raised and we often look at things and decide they're bad, but we don't sift out what it is itself in this case, fat versus what's going into the production of the fat. Grass-fed beef would be a common one where for a long time, don't eat so much beef, it's going to cause heart disease. It's do this and that. Well, you get into understanding the fat and commodity raised beef versus naturally raised beef. A huge, huge difference.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: This kind of proliferates across the fat discussion. We're not going to talk about all of that here, but it's important to do your study and understand if you just think fat's bad, I don't need it. It's actually extremely valuable. We all need it and it's an important resource. Especially when you're talking about food security, whether that's just year-over-year or food security in some sort of crisis or something.

Carolyn: Yeah, definitely. And now there's a lot of ... you're saying there's a lot of issues wrapped up in fat and the health side of fat. Are we talking about saturated or unsaturated fat? Are we talking about omega-three to omega-six balance, all these different things and we're really not diving into. That is a whole discussion all of its own that we should have one day. That would be a good pantry chat, but that's not the pantry chat we're talking about today.

Josh: She gets Sally Fallon on and talk about that with her.

Carolyn: That would be a great thing. I actually get to talk to her this afternoon.

Josh: Wow, very cool.

Carolyn: She will be on soon, but she's not talking about that.

Josh: Not talking about fats today. All right. Any plug on what you're talking about?

Carolyn: We're actually going to be talking about the top things that you can do to make an improvement in your health through your diet.

Josh: Oh, good.

Carolyn: We may be talking about fat.

Josh: You're talking to Sally, you'll be talking about fat at least part of that I'm sure.

Carolyn: But when it comes to the homestead, I also want to bring out the idea that fat is not only for food. One, think about cooking if you had zero fat on hand, like no cooking spray, no little dash of butter in your pan or anything. You need it for the cooking process, not just for the taste and the flavor of your food. But let's talk about other things like oiling your cutting boards, greasing things.

Josh: Maintaining your leather.

Carolyn: Yeah, leather.

Josh: Maintaining your leather boots.

Carolyn: Yeah, greasing machinery that needs greasing, different things like that. That originally all came off the homestead in different sources of fat. You produced all your own. So it's just really important to open the mind up and go, oh, what about medicinal oils? That's another thing for topical uses. Cosmetic uses all of those different things. So there's a lot of different aspects that are wrapped up in why you should be producing your own, but kind of at the basis of them, aside from shortage is that toxins are often stored in fat, right?

Josh: Right.

Carolyn: So if you are bringing in fat sources that have been, let's say butter from animals that have been conventionally raised and not raised well, you get a lot of toxins stored in fat.

Josh: Glyphosate is a great one that we're a big conversation right now we're dealing with, and glyphosate is stored in fat. So if the animals you're eating or fed GMO grains, or nowadays they're using products with glyphosate in it, just dry grains like wheat notes and whatnot. So if your animals are eating that, that's going to get into the fat. So there's a lot of issues to think about and how we obtain our fat.

Carolyn: So if you want really pure food, if you want want something done right, you've got to do it yourself. It really goes ... or you need to know somebody really closely that is doing it right also. So a local farmer or something like that.

Josh: Yeah. You make me think a conversation I was having with a new friend the other day and we were talking about getting independence. If you've ever heard us talk or me talk about the grids and how I'm focused on getting independent of different grids, not just the electric grid.

Carolyn: Right.

Josh: We were talking about that and he was making the point that you can buy your way out of a lot of things. You can buy a powerful solar system and get off the main electric grid. You can buy water backup, water storage, you can buy a lot of preps, a lot of things. You can't really buy your way to food security to healthy secure food to a degree you can't with resources, but at the end of the day, you've got to produce it or be very tied to somebody that's producing it the way you want it.

Carolyn: Yep. That's true.

Josh: That comes right down to it here. You got to do it yourself or you got to support somebody that does it the way you want.

Carolyn: That does it well and transparently so you can tell. So let's dive into this a little bit. First of all, we're going to talk about the different fat sources that you can have on the homestead that you can reasonably do yourself, right? First of those is animals.

Josh: You have three main animals for fat, and that is pigs, beef and then the dairy cow. So your beef cow is your dairy cow. You can definitely get some fat from sheep. You can definitely pull it from geese. Chickens have ... they all have a little-

Carolyn: Chickens, turkeys, yeah.

Josh: They're valuable, but we're talking about the animals that are really going to give you a store of fat to secure that fat to put it up, not just little uses at a time.

Carolyn: If you want to see any of these processes or anything we're talking about in video, we actually have videos on most of these things on rendering out your fats, making butter, different things like that. So we'll put links below in the description for you if you want to go see that. But let's talk about the pigs real fast because there's some different types of pigs out there. If we want to use them for lard, which is the fat that you get from pigs or from bear. Those are the two animals that will give you lard. We're talking about raising it on the homestead, so I'm assuming you're not raising bears on your homestead. So when it comes to pigs-

Josh: You want a lard pig. If you are going to prioritize getting more lard up, you can get lard from any pig and you can get a lot of lard from a lot of pigs. However, if you want to produce more lard, you might want to look at lard type pigs. This is what Carolyn and I went through and realizing that dairy cow for us and our family wasn't giving us fat. Plenty of milk, but not enough of the butter, not enough of the fats. So we switched over to a lard pig. Pigs put fat on very well, and if you get into some lard, pigs like KuneKunes, Mangalitza, American guineas, IPP, the Idaho pasture pig. There's a number of out there. Some ones come to mind.

They put more lard on than meat, so you're not going to get the same type bacon. Everything's going to have much thicker fat layers, but that gives us that store of lard. So that's one of the things we've done and one of the things you want to think about. That's one of the easiest, most economical, efficient ways to put up in my opinion, is these lard pigs. A lot of lard in a season year over year.

Carolyn: Well, yeah, you want to turn your kitchen scraps into something useful. The kitchen scraps feed the pig and the pig makes a lot of lard.

Josh: The excess dairy, excess fruit, excess nuts, whatever it is. Pigs are great at consuming just about everything.

Carolyn: If you want to produce tallow, which is another type of fat, that's a fat that's going to have a higher smoke and melt point than lard in the house, then you're talking about probably raising beef on the homestead and getting your beef fat. Tallow also comes from venison. Any form of venison, elk, deer, from sheep, from goats, any fat from one of those types of animals is considered tallow and can be used in all different ways from food uses definitely the tallow side to lots of very practical uses around the homestead.

Josh: And I think the tallow is a little better for the leather, for the cutting board.

Carolyn: Soap making.

Josh: Soap making. I don't know the science of it, but it's ... rigid is not the right word, but it's a little dense. It's a little more dense, holds together.

Carolyn: Yeah, it's a little thicker, but it also, I guess the viscosity maybe -

Josh: There you go, viscosity.

Carolyn: ... the word we're looking for.

Josh: Good job.

Carolyn: But it also has a higher smoke point and a higher melt point, which means that it gets solid at room temperature sooner than something like a lard. So in some applications of food, it's not ideal because you roast your vegetables in it and then they sit in your serving dish for a few minutes or on your plate for a few minutes, and then your mouth ends up feeling coated with fat. So we tend to go with a different fat for that, but it is a very, very healthy fat. If you're avoiding pork for any reason, it's a great substitute for that.

Josh: When you put it on your gloves or boots, the tallow will actually create more of a sealing, not just get into the leather. The lard will get into the leather real well, but it won't necessarily seal as well where the tallow will kind of end up sealing a little more.

Carolyn: Then of course you have your butter from your dairy cow. That's the other main place that you can get a lot of fat from on the homestead. We talked about that for a moment, that you're getting the cream off the top and you are turning that into butter. It is a lot of regular work. We love our butter. We love our butter. We make butter all the time.

Josh: I love bread with my butter.

Carolyn: I don't want to discourage the butter, but as far as a practical use of getting a lot done all at the same time, butter is a constant process that happens every single week over and over and over again as you are milking a cow or bringing the milk in, skimming the cream off, and then turning that cream into butter. So it has its pros and cons. Of course, flavor-wise, it's amazing. We all love it, but you do have to think about the practicalities.

Josh: Well, and I think if we can take just a second, because you get into how do you get it all done and systems, and it's this kind of thinking that makes things doable. So you want to get more independent, say on your fat source and that type of energy. Like Carolyn's saying, butter is great, but it's a lot of work and it takes a lot of dairy, incoming milk to get enough butter to do all of your spreadable fats like putting butter on your toast or whatever, your cooking fats, all the places you're going to use it as opposed to. Cow takes some more inputs as opposed to saying, saving the butter for the table for the spreadables, putting on the vegetables, potatoes, whatever, and then raising the lard, the pigs, particularly in an efficient way where then you can accumulate a whole lot of your fats for cooking and whatnot more cheaply, more efficiently, all the way from raising it to getting it into the lard. It's that type of thinking and sorting those things out that help you get to a better production and better security in this type of resource.

Carolyn: Well, and do it in a practical amount of time that actually works in your household.

Josh: Exactly.

Carolyn: Is what you're saying.

Josh: That's the point.

Carolyn: Yeah. Yeah. Okay.

Josh: Now, animals aren't the only source for some of these fats, so you can grow plants and trees as well.

Carolyn: There's a lot of discussion out there about the health side of using seed oils. Again, that's a whole different discussion, but remember that there's a lot of things that we can use oils and different fats, but specifically like seed oils for that are not ingesting them. Immediately I'm thinking soaps. I'm thinking cosmetic purposes. I'm thinking salves, herbal oils turned into salves. So there's a lot of things you can use them for. So even if you're not into the seed oil for consumption, I get it, they still have a really valuable place, but the good news is you can also make your own olive oil. You can make your own avocado oil. You can make your own coconut oil at home. So let's talk about some of the plants that we can use to make these different oils in our home. One of them would be sunflowers.

This is one we've gotten into a little bit more because it's really easy to grow sunflowers up here, and you can make sunflower oil in your own home. You need an oil press if you have ever ground wheat into flour, the process is almost the same. You put the stuff in and then you push the button and it grinds it and does all of its stuff, and you get oil out one side and you get your leftovers out the other side. So it's a really, really simple process when it comes to the actual pressing. I'm surprised more people don't do it or talk about it, but it is very simple, right in that same-

Josh: Well, I just wanted to add, the cool thing about sunflowers is they're easy to grow every year. They're easy to grow a lot of them in most environments. So while there's a little bit of setup to it in getting a press and whatnot, you can actually produce a lot very, very easily. Now, this is an annual, so there's some perennial solutions as well, but as far as an annual goes, it's a great way to go.

Carolyn: Well, and one of the cool things about sunflower oil is you don't have to shell the sunflower seeds before you press it.

Josh: Easy processing.

Carolyn: Sunflower shells are completely edible, so not only do you get the oil off to one side, but you essentially get a dry sun butter off to the other side that's really high fiber because you put the shells right into. It's very edible, or it makes really great high protein animal feed.

Josh: Back to the pigs to produce the fat.

Carolyn: Back to pigs for more lard. So it's a really good way to go. Peanuts are another really great one. If you live in an environment where peanuts grow well, that is actually really interesting because it is very, very shelf stable and it actually has a really high smoke point.

Josh: It's good with cooking with.

Carolyn: If you want to fry something in an oil, this could be the one for you to do. So that can be a really great way.

Josh: Non-animal fat.

Carolyn: Non-animal fat. Yeah, hazelnut oil. Another one you can do. There's actually a really wide selection of different oils.

Josh: Like the hazelnut, because we can grow the hazelnut. Some of these we can't grow in the northern climates, most of them here besides the sunflowers, but the hazelnut is another one we can grow in the north.

Carolyn: Which is kind of nice. Find those things. But you can even do pumpkin or winter squash seed oil. You can do watermelon seed oil. We have a whole pantry chat that we did with Bevin Cohen on this exact topic, so I'll put a link below if you're interested in that. It's really, really fascinating and you can learn a lot about it.

Josh: That's cool.

Carolyn: Now, for these next oils that if you live in warmer climates than we do, you actually aren't pressing the seeds. They're not seed oil. They are flesh.

Josh: From the flesh.

Carolyn: Flesh oil. It doesn't sound right.

Josh: She's leading into olives and avocados

Carolyn: And coconuts too, which is not on our list.

Josh: And that comes from the flesh as well.

Carolyn: That comes from the flesh as well, and you can absolutely do those in a home press. So don't feel like you can't do those at home. They're not hard to do.

Josh: Well, let's come back around. So those are all great resources. There's a little more work into the plant, so they have their place. But when it comes to getting volume and efficiency, the animals produce a lot of fat, right?

Carolyn: They do.

Josh: But there's some things we need to think about to maximize the quality and the quantity of the fat you get from your animals.

Carolyn: One of the first things, if you're looking for lard or for tallow, this is hard to do you guys, but you need to butcher yourself.

Josh: For maximizing.

Carolyn: For maximizing the fat, the amount of fat that just goes in the waste bin at the butcher because they're working on kind of fast and get it done and move on, so they're not being real careful to save that back fat. They're not being as careful as you would be in your own home to save all that precious resource. So you're going to really maximize your yield off of a single animal by doing your own butchery.

Josh: And to be fair to butchers, because we sometimes have our animals butchered, get to know your butcher. One butcher's going to be different than another. One's just not going to care, and he's going to want to fly through high production. Another one might take a little more time. I'm happy to get that all set aside for you boxed up. A good butcher should be willing to do that, but nonetheless, they're not going to do it the way you would do it. If you are harvesting your own animal and you're focused not just on the meat, but on maximizing the harvest of the fat.

Carolyn: I think if we title this pantry chat, we should just title it if you want something done, you should do it yourself. I feel like we're coming back to that over and over again.

Josh: It's usually the case, right?

Carolyn: Good. The other thing to know, and this is true, whether you're looking at pigs for lard, beef for tallow, or even cows for butter, and for the dairy fat, consider the breeds that you're working with because they're not all created equal when it comes to how much fat they produce. It used to be that people needed to produce more of their own fat. We used to before industrial revolution where we got these nice little cubes of butter all wrapped up in paper. The fat was coming from either your farmer or from your own yard. So they had to produce more. So the old fashioned heritage breeds often were fattier.

Josh: Well, and here's an example. Your Herefords, your original Herefords were an easily fattening, we call it fleshing animal. They fell out of favor because they fattened too easily. As we were getting this idea that fat wasn't so good, and actually that was one of the reasons they fell out of favor in the market. It's why you see mostly black Angus is because they actually ... we decided we didn't like the marbling and the fat content on the Hereford. So good to know about these things and think about them.

Carolyn: Well, same thing with the dairy breeds. Some are known to really produce a lot more cream. Your Jerseys, your Guernseys are really known for this real creamy milk and others, your Holstein is not known for that.

Josh: She's prioritized for volume.

Carolyn: Yeah, so make sure you pay attention to that.

Josh: Absolutely.

Carolyn: And then of course-

Josh: This is the probably largest, most important subject, and that is considering what you're feeding fats, while they're a high energy store, they tend to hold onto the toxins.

Carolyn: So you want a really clean feed.

Josh: So you want clean feed. The cleanest feed you can get, which is to be organic certainly is the best you can do unless you're raising it yourself, and that becomes really, really ... it's important. Our world's just getting toxified. If you guys are following along, there's the glyphosate story that we're dealing with, and I don't know, by the time you see this, if the next part of that story will be out, but it's coming and it's an important one to be aware of and to think about, and so you want to think about that feed that goes into all your animals, but particularly animals that you're producing fats from.

Carolyn: Yeah, yeah. It's a very important thing. But also along with that, you can feed to fatten your animals or you can feed to create lean meat. So even the feeding side, as far as maximizing your fat production, while you want it to be really clean feed, if your goal is to get a bunch of lard off your pig, you need to feed your pig a little differently than if your goal is to get a whole lot of really lean meat.

Josh: Well, and there's kind of so many veins we can go down the road with here. Even in our Kunes that we're raising, we're feeding the breeding pigs differently because they get too fat so easily that they don't breed well than the ones that we're finishing out. You could using cows, for example, feed cows more grain and put more fat on them. However, that grain is not good at those levels for a ruminant, and hence why for a cow for me, I find the best breed I can find, feed them appropriately and look to the pig or elsewhere, the dairy cow for your fats.

Carolyn: Right. Yeah. Okay, so when it comes to quantities of fat that you can get from an animal, I just don't even feel like it's fair to throw a number out there because it is so vastly different depending on breed, depending on feeding all of these things that we just talked about. What's your butchering method? It really changes the amount drastically, so I don't even feel like it's fair to throw an average out there.

Josh: I don't think it is easier. I think I'm just going to continue to lean on if this resonates with you and you want to do what we've done, which is to work to create a larger store of fat in our house, then it reprioritizes what animals we're raising. So we go, okay, for us pigs is the source, is the core source for fat when it comes to a store of fat because they can convert so many different food types so easily to a lot of fat, and it's easy to process once a year when you're harvesting and butchering. So that works well for us. So you want to think through a system like that of what will work for you. You're probably not going to get all your fat from the beef cow or the dairy cow. Maybe depending on the size of your family and your usages, but you probably want that pig in there if you're really going to add that into your system.

Carolyn: Yeah, yeah, definitely. When it comes to how much you can get off some of the seed oils and some of the non-seed oils, that is a little more easily quantifiable because a sunflower is kind of a sunflower, especially if you're working with the high oil sunflowers, you can get a pretty average yield. We're talking about one gallon of oil from about 10 pounds of sunflower seeds. That's a really good return on it. So you can see why people do that. When we're talking olives, we're talking about four and a half pounds of olives, yields about eight tablespoons of olive oil.

Josh: Not much.

Carolyn: Not as much.

Josh: That's a bonus points for the sunflowers.

Carolyn: Yeah, about a tablespoon of oil per avocado if we're talking about avocado oil, which is very interesting. So it makes you look a little differently when you just go get that big container from Costco and you're dumping it into something and you're like, wow, that's like three avocados worth that I just put in there. It makes you really think about it when you have to deal with the raw quantity of the food.

Josh: Yeah, absolutely.

Carolyn: Anyways, okay, so let's get into the different methods for processing these foods. We've kind of talked about them lightly, so we're just going to touch on them again. So when it comes to lard and tallow, what you need to do is to render that fat to turn it into a usable and storable fat source. Properly rendered lard and tallow should last you for at least a year on the shelf, really, if you have a cool environment to keep it in cool and dark like a basement or dark pantry or cellar. If you don't have that type of environment, you can stick it in the freezer and it will last several years and stayed good. So the process is really simple. Again, I have a whole video on showing you how to do that, so we'll put that in the-

Josh: But quickly. So for people that may not be familiar, what's just the quick process?

Carolyn: So you want to get the fat into a very small size, like either small chop or have it ground by your butcher, if you are having the butcher do it, or grind it yourself. Then you melt it down very, very slowly and you let it simmer in your pot very gently until we cook out all the moisture, all the water content that would be in there. Then you strain it to remove all the impurities, and then it's ready to go on the shelf. So in our family, we can do something like over 10 gallons of lard in a reasonable workday, get it all rendered and on the shelf for the year. So pretty fast.

Josh: Check out the video on that small pro tip. If you are grinding fat, it needs to be almost frozen solid, not solid, but it needs to be cold and solid without being frozen hard.

Carolyn: Good thought.

Josh: Otherwise, you're going to have a lot of challenges grinding.

Carolyn: Okay, the process for making butter is also fairly simple. First, you have to let your cream rise. If you are milking goats or an animal with naturally homogenized milk, you'll have to use a cream separator in order to get enough cream to be able to make butter out of it. But you get your cream separated off from your milk, and then you let your cream come up to about 63, 64 degrees Fahrenheit, about room temperature, and then you get it into some sort of a vessel that you can use to agitate it, whether you're using a blender, a mixer, a actual butter churn, or you're sticking it in a jar so you can shake it up by hand.

Josh: Kids love doing that.

Carolyn: Kids love it. Whatever vessel you use, you have to make sure you only fill it halfway so that the cream has room to move enough, otherwise it will not turn into butter, and then you agitate it until it lumps together. After you get that, if you want it to store for any amount of time, more than two or three days, you have to wash it in water, literally moving it around, washing water through that butter to remove all of the remaining milk bits, and then you consult it and store it.

Josh: You've got a video on that, don't you?

Carolyn: We have a video on that too.

Josh: We'll link to that. Yep. You haven't made butter yet, that's something you got to do. Got to try.

Carolyn: Okay.

Josh: Seed oils.

Carolyn: Seed oils are very simple. Like I already said, if you have an oil press. If you have an electric oil press, it kind of gently warms your oils just right there in the process. You push a button and you put the seeds in the top and it kind of pulls it through, and oil shoots out one end, and the rest of the stuff shoots out the other end. Then you just let the oil settle out for about 24 hours, decant it off to leave all the little particles that have been in there. So pour it off, leaving that last little bit undisturbed, putting that in your compost or to the chickens or something like that. If you have a hand press, usually you have to heat the seeds by yourself first and then run it through just gently. It's not a high heat, it's just to warm them up to a warm room temperature. So get that oil moving. Those are the basic processes.

Josh: Fun topic, and don't take it too lightly. This is really a key to food security, managing your fats. Remember, fat is energy, essentially, and so it's key to a food security, a food resilience program ...

Carolyn: Absolutely.

Josh: ... on the homestead, and it's very, very important.

Carolyn: Yeah. Hey, you guys, check out any of those videos that we talked about in the description below, and we're excited to see you again real soon.

Josh: See you then.

Carolyn: Goodbye.

Josh: Thanks for listening to this episode of the Pantry Chat, Food For Thought. If you've enjoyed this episode, please subscribe, rate and review.

Carolyn: To view the show notes and any other resources mentioned on this episode, you can learn more at

Josh: We'll see you soon.

Carolyn: Goodbye.

A man and wife smiling.

Welcome to Homesteading Family!

Josh and Carolyn bring you practical knowledge on how to Grow, Cook, Preserve and Thrive on your homestead, whether you are in a city apartment or on 40 acres in the country. If you want to increase your self-sufficiency and health be sure to subscribe for helpful videos on gardening, preserving, herbal medicine, traditional cooking and more.

Sign Up for Updates

Get the latest homesteading tips delivered to your inbox weekly.

Popular Posts

Read by Category

Healthy Healing at Home

Free 4 video workshop on how to confidently use homemade herbal remedies!

More to Explore

Continue Reading

A jar of fermented hot sauce.

Easy Green Fermented Hot Sauce

Introducing easy green fermented hot sauce that will add a homemade, zesty kick to your meals. Get ready to ignite your taste buds with


Homestead Kitchen Membership!

Join over 1,500 Homesteaders and grow together.

Become a Confident and Self-Sufficient Homesteader