Second World War: Saving Lard

Louisiana woman recalls housewives saving Lard during the Second World War.

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Lard, shortening and bacon drippings were found in nearly every kitchen back in the '30s. If there was not much meat on the menu, fried foods made its absence less noticeable. Fat from beef or pork was used to make gravy. Lots of lard made flaky pie crusts and tender cakes. 

When the Second World War started, fats were needed for the war effort, and all waste fat was taken to collection places. Any fats no longer suitable for cooking were carefully saved in a large container, mixed with water, and heated until the fat melted. This mixture was stirred and allowed to cool. The fat rose to the top and hardened. The bits of food that dropped to the bottom and the water were discarded. The fat was taken to a collection place.

Housewives had to revise recipes to save fat. Hot-water corn bread was baked instead of fried; sometimes a little baking powder was used in pie crust to cut down on the amount of shortening needed.

Sugar was rationed, and jellies and jams replaced icing on cakes. As long as candy was available in the stores, lemon drops or peppermint sticks replaced sugar in iced tea.

Besides the fats, housewives were expected to turn in used razor blades and empty toothpaste tubes.

Gypsy Damaris Boston
Shreveport, Louisiana

Back in 1955 a call went out from the editors of the then Capper’s Weekly asking for readers to send in articles on true pioneers. Hundreds of letters came pouring in from early settlers and their children, many now in their 80s and 90s, and from grandchildren of settlers, all with tales to tell. So many articles were received that a decision was made to create a book, and in 1956, the first My Folks title – My Folks Came in a Covered Wagon – hit the shelves. Nine other books have since been published in the My Folks series, all filled to the brim with true tales from Capper’s readers, and we are proud to make those stories available to our growing online community.