LARD!

I grew up believing that *LARD* was the worst thing for your diet. It was death in a can. But I obviously was confusing lard, which my GRANDMA used, with highly processed “shortening”. That was the nasty bright white stuff that my MOTHER used to fry chicken and make a flakey pie crust. REAL lard was never a part of my growing up experience. Boy was I missing out!

When I was younger, I thought I was doing myself a favor and I that was one step better off than my mother using canola oil and vegetable oil to do my sautéing, frying and baking. HA! That’s BIG AG working with half truths to convince the public that grandma, who most likely rendered fat and made lard herself was nothing but an ignorant victim of generations of other ignorant home cooks, bakers and chefs. BIG AG didn’t mind that mom was still using Crisco – this still put money in their pockets. The message: Lard was the “old” way to do things and bad for you – it was a killer and caused heart disease. Hydrogenated oils were the new and better way to go, and good for you to boot.

We know that’s not true. It just isn’t. If it were true, heart disease would not be on the rise. Heart disease is the number one cause of premature death in the world, up 41% since 1990 (Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation). It isn’t just the fats we are eating, it is our lifestyle; it is the food that isn’t food that we are eating and it is a lack of exercise to name a few things that have changed since Grandma was cooking it up in the kitchen.

The process by which Canola oil and other vegetable oils is extracted is questionable at best. Most use a process called Hexane Solvent Extraction. According the the National Center for Biotechnology information,

Hexane is used to extract edible oils from seeds and vegetables, as a special-use solvent, and as a cleaning agent. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure of humans to high levels of hexane causes mild central nervous system (CNS) effects, including dizziness, giddiness, slight nausea, and headache. Chronic (long-term) exposure to hexane in air is associated with polyneuropathy in humans, with numbness in the extremities, muscular weakness, blurred vision, headache, and fatigue observed. (“Hexane”).


Though this process has not been associated with carcinogenic effects in humans it has the above effects on the body with just short term exposure (“Hexane”). Of course, this is probably most hazardous to people whose jobs are in the industry working directly with processing the oils. But for the lay person, this process also leaves the oils damaged and with higher levels of trans fats – the really bad fat (Totty).

Look! Grandma wasn’t ignorant! She was using traditional wisdom and recipes that used naturally rendered fat. Though Grandma may have not known that lard was high in oliec acid monounsaturated heart healthy fat, she probably knew that it had a high smoke point that was good for frying (Henry). Grandma was using lard because that’s what worked.

I use lard for sautéing and frying at high temperatures. I use lard in some of my baked goods. Sometimes, I use a combination of lard and butter to get an extra creamy texture and flavor. Lard is also best for my cast iron pans. It is really good to season cast iron with lard because is leaves a nice sheen and it almost guarantees a completely non-stick surface. I also cook with lard because lard, if rendered correctly, has no flavor. It does not smell like a pig or pork, it smells like… lard – soft, creamy and clean.

So let’s render some fat and make the lard:

Equipment: a large sauce pan with a heavy bottom, a wooden spoon, a metal strainer, a container to hold the lard.

Ingredients: 1 pound of fatty pork trimmings, or a pound a pure pork fat.

Directions:

  1. Cut up the trimming or fat into 1 inch pieces.
  2. Place the trimming/fat in the pan on low heat.
  3. Let the fat render on low heat for 3-4 hours stirring every 15-30 minutes making sure the fat does not stick to the bottom and burn.
  4. When the “cracklins” are brown and it looks like their is no more fat to be rendered, strain it through a metal strainer into a heat safe jar. You should end up with 1-1.5 cups of liquid lard.
  5. Let the lard cool to room temperature. It will begin to solidify and turn a slightly yellow hue. When it is room temperature, put a lid on it and place it in the refrigerator. Let it cool over night. The lard will turn white, be a bit more solid than butter and have no smell.

Here is a blog post from “Self Reliance Outfitters” that shares 10 Practical Uses for Lard. Check it out.

As always,  thank you for coming by to read this. I’d like to grow my readership. If you enjoyed this blog post, add a comment and share it with a friend. 😀 Please visit, subscribe and like my YouTube channel Kickin’ it with Karen: Beyond Sauerkraut to find more things I’ve made.

Sources:

Henry, Michele. “Why Lard’s Healthier than You Think.” Thestar.com, Toronto Star, 14 May 2013, http://www.thestar.com/life/health_wellness/nutrition/2013/05/14/why_lards_healthier_than_you_think.html.

“Hexane.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. PubChem Compound Database, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 16 Sept. 2004, pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/hexane#section=Top.

Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation. “Deaths from cardiovascular disease increase globally while mortality rates decrease.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 2 April 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/04/150402101410.htm>.

Totty, Brent. “9 Reasons Canola Oil Is Bad for You (as in, Toss It ASAP).” Bulletproof, Bulletproof, 18 Jan. 2019, blog.bulletproof.com/what-is-canola-oil/#ref-5.


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