Sunday, October 2, 2016

Bear Tag Filled

We have bear in the freezer!
Oops - not that bear!
(Sorry, I have a warped since of humor.)

Got her within a mile of the house last weekend.
She was a 2-3 year old sow.
That was Sunday evening, and yep, you guessed it,
we had to be to work Monday morning:)
That part actually wasn't too bad.
It is beginning to get dark early enough that we
finished up just about bed time.
By we on that part of course I mean Mr. LB.
He actually likes skinning/dressing them out.
I am in charge of getting and having everything ready.
Hanging bag, vinegar water, wash bowl and rag, wheelbarrow (for guts) etc.
Once it's all cleaned, we go over it with a mild vinegar water
just to make sure it's actually "clean."
We let her hang two full days before we started working on her.
If it had been a little cooler, we might have waited another day.
So Wednesday night we began the process.
Bear is a lot of work to clean and process.
It took us (both) 3 evenings, and I finished rendering the last of the lard 
Saturday morning.
I've heard of quite a few folks who hunt avidly who don't like to eat bear.
There are some unique features to processing bear
that make me wonder if they had ill-processed meat.
First, bear is a member of the pork family so cook it thoroughly.
We find the lard superior to pork lard.
Our cast iron hasn't looked better since beginning to use it several years ago.
The other thing about it is that it doesn't have that "pork smell" 
when frying an egg and potatoes or whatever we happen to be cooking.
It just seems cleaner that way.
A little caveat here on how I render bear lard:
I send it through the grinder first. 
(I should share: we have an unfinished kitchen. We finally picked out countertops this past week so hopefully within a month or so 
we will have a 'real' kitchen:)

Then heat it on the barbecuer burner outside.
This is just beginning to turn and look at all that lard already.
It will kinda resemble lightly-browned burger when ready.
Grinding it first makes the heating/rendering part go really quickly.
I then pour it through a lose-weave cotton cloth 
(looser weave than a sheet, but tighter than cheese cloth.)
It is a yellow color until it cools then should be a soft white.
I got just shy of a gallon and a half of lard from this one bear!
We do store it in the refrigerator for good measure.
The clincher is that bear fat (not rendered) can go rancid even in the freezer.
If folks try to cut up a bear like they would a deer or elk,
it would taste foul by the time they pulled it out of the freezer.
We didn't always know this either, but knew we didn't like bear fat on the meat.
In fact, last year, we had a bear given to us by a neighbor.
(He shot a bear right behind his house and was expecting company about a half an hour later.  We all have bear tags up here since they can be a nuisance.)
I didn't have time to get all the fat rendered into lard so threw a bag of the unprocessed fat into the freezer.
I took it out and rendered it later when I had more time.
Here is how it set up using the same process as above.
Yes, it was still in the fridge - please don't judge:)
I want to save the jar and hadn't had time to dispose of it.
In addition, if the un-rendered fat is unknowingly used in the burger
and proceeds to go rancid, the whole package will carry that flavor.
This is definitely one of the advantages to doing our own cutting and wrapping.
We cut and wrap the meat according to the ways 
we prefer to cook it for our meals.
Our favorites are to include it with elk meat and beef fat in sausage,
in Mediterranean like we sometimes do venison (recipe here) 
or barbecued bear kabobs. 
Recipe: I use Sweet Baby Ray's as a base.
Mr. LB likes it, but I don't really care for it.
To this base I add Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, garlic, onion, parsley, and a little ground savory.  Let it marinate at least over night but up to 2 days.
Then barbecue slowly.
Sorry, I don't have a picture of after they were cooked.
It was getting late, and we were hungry. 

We have tried roasts before, but because we remove the fat, 
it cooks up to be a bit on the dry side.
It is now deer season so we might be burning the candle at both ends of the day for another week or so.
Please forgive me if posts are a bit sporadic.
More "how to" or at least "how we do it" posts coming.
In the past few weeks, we butchered lambs, cut and hauled 4 cords of wood,
processed about 70 lbs. of tomatoes, and have Mrs. Calabash back in service
so there's plenty to share.


  1. We sometimes watch that show from Alaska where the Brown family supposedly lives in the boonies all year. (They DON'T in reality.) They are constantly having bear problems, but they absolutely refuse to shoot them. It's like they think they're sacred or something. I'd EAT those trouble-makers!

  2. I had never heard of anyone rendering bear lard before! I make soap from pig lard and beef tallow - have you considered making soap from the bear lard? I'll bet it would be wonderful! Thanks for sharing this.

  3. interesting post!
    We have bears in Michigan, but thankfully they are way North of where we live.
    When he had a pig processed, they were suppose to get me the fat, so I could try making lard, but we never got it :( Maybe this year!

  4. Hi there! I'm visiting from Strangers and Pilgrims, but I am VERY intrigued about your method of dealing with bear and how to render the fat. We live in bear country, and I've never eaten bear, and most people say the taste is not good unless you take out all the fat. It is a lot of work to do, but it certainly makes a beautiful lard! I have rendered my own tallow from beef meat bones. It just turned hunting season here too, and we hope to put several deer in our freezer. Happy to have met you today :)

  5. I am sooo jealous! I got my first Bear two years ago and love with the lard! I wish we lived where bears were around. I loved every part of it: the hunt, the meat, the lard, the fit, and the claws. Enjoy your meals. Thanks for sharing. I found most of what people said about Bear is false. It is delicious.

  6. Very interesting. We don't have many bear in our area, so I don't think I'll ever need to cook it, but I'm curious what it tastes like. Chicken? LOL (just kidding)

  7. I shall never eat bear since we don't have them in SW MO, but it was very interesting to read about how you do it. Thank you. I think I will suggest my son wash our dear in vinegar... or is it vinegar water?

    Laura Lane
    Harvest Lane Cottage

    P.S. Which books did you put on your list?

  8. Oh my goodness, I'm from Australia and I had no idea you could eat Bear. I presumed because they ate meat they were a no go?

    How completely facinating!

    Just the idea of them gives me the shivers. I can understand why they would be satisfying to hunt.