Ask yourself what do you know about lard is it good; is it bad? Well why not let Jim Fiedler unveil some light on this subject for you. I’m getting a little ahead of myself…While I was visiting my aunt in Virginia we had many foodie experiences. One day she shared with me the egg report. Now at first I was like what the heck is “the egg report”? She told me that a friend of hers who use to work in the city decided to make a living on a farm. Him and his wife raise and sell various meat cuts on a weekly basis. Did little house on the prairie pop into anyone else’s head? As I was reading the egg report I found it be not only fascinating but very educational too.
Each week Jim Fiedler sends out a weekly newsletter which includes:
- Their weekly special (they ship! I cant wait to try this out)
- His perspective on new foodie books, movies, etc.
- Upcoming events
- The egg report
Below is this week’s egg report. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.
September 5, 2009
“I Love Lard”
Perhaps I should say “I love non-hydrogenated lard”. And from old fashioned pigs with lots of fat raised on pasture with no antibiotics, hormones or chemicals. That is what we sell and the only lard you ever want to use. Sanders’ Processing in Celestine, IN is the only abattoir we know who will make it. And they make it the old-fashioned way slowly with low heat that leaves the lard pure white with a sweet smell of freshness. We were lucky to just stumble onto the best lard producer around!
Non-hydrogenated lard must be hard to fine since we get calls and emails from all over the country from cooks who can not find it locally. Don’t even think about buying the commercial lard in grocery stores which is about the only lard available in this country. You can bet it has been hydrogenated to give it extra stability and shelf life. Hydrogenation is a process where the fat molecules are blasted with hydrogen until their chemical structure changes. That sounds good until you learn hydrogenation is also the source of those bad trans fats.
I remember growing up in a home that had a coffee can on one side of the stove to collect the bacon grease and a tub of lard on the other side or in my case a 5 gallon bucket of lard in the bottom cabinet. Both of my grandmothers used lard too and we had the best fried chicken, fried potatoes, navy beans, cornbread and about anything else you ever put a lip over. Plus they all lived into their 90s unless they got Alzheimer’s which was then called old age or high blood pressure and forgot to take their pills.
What happened? Art deco and George McGovern. Plastic replaced wood furniture and linoleum covered wood floors and Crisco replaced lard. My, did we love to be modern. Crisco is made by hydrogenating cottonseed oil and was invented to make cheaper candles and unfortunately also made trans fats. Then electricity killed the candle market and since it looked like lard, we began eating Crisco along with trans fats instead.
Where did Sen. George McGovern come in? Sen. George McGovern headed the Senate Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs from its founding in 1968 until its death in late 1977. The committee made a fatal mistake of concluding Americans should “cut their consumption of red meat and diary products”. Sen. McGovern represented South Dakota which is a cattle state that went “totally ballistic”. Thus the wording was quickly changed to “choose meats, poultry, and fish that will reduce saturated fat intake”. And all that was heard was “EAT LESS FAT”. McGovern’s staff was “virtually unaware of the existence of any scientific controversy” and the report “was written by a nonscientist based on a single Harvard nutritionist, Mark Hegsted”. It was a report by committee funded by industry donations from companies who would profit from this conclusion. So Crisco and other evil vegetable oils were in and Lard and other healthy animal fats were out for the next 40 years. Lard, the most elegant fat and pigs have no lawyers.
Do not cook especially fried food with common vegetable oils including canola, soy or corn oil. Even olive oil which is very good for you with all its unsaturated fats “should never be heated lest it break down into toxic trans fats”. Butter is my other favorite product but is extremely fragile and should not be heated above 150 degrees F. High temperature cooking and frying should only be done with lard, tallow and some virgin tropical oils including coconut and palm oils. And avoid GMO oils.
You need to be familiar with three terms: Back fat lard, leaf lard and caul fat. Back fat lard is made mostly from the back fat of the pig. Our Large Black Pigs have 2” or more back fat compared to ¾” or less on the white industrial pig. Commercial buyers actually penalize pigs with more back fat than that. What a shame. Flavor and good taste as well as healthy vitamins come from fat so no wonder today’s “other white meat” tastes like shoe leather! Our regular lard sells for $2 a pound. Leaf lard is the Cadillac of lard and is the one Martha Stewart oohs and aahs over. Leaf lard comes from around the kidneys and thus is also called kidney lard. Leaf lard is the highest grade of lard. It is the whitest and has the least pork flavor making it ideal for baked goods and is “treasured for making flaky, moist pie crusts. We sell it for $5 a pound. Caul fat is not made into lard. Caul fat is a very thin lacy fatty membrane that surrounds the internal organs of pigs. Caul fat is used to wrap rolled meats since it melts away during cooking and leaves a perfect product. I don’t remember how much we sell it for since we sell so little but I might change that if asked nicely.
“A slice of bread spread with lard was a typical staple in traditional rural cuisine of many countries.” Lard was used as in a similar fashion as butter in North America and many European nations in the 19th century according to Wikipedia. And it was used as a substitute for butter in WWII. Lard is the secret of the Rome (Indiana) ladies great fried chicken. Anything tastes better when fried in lard. Nothing needs to be said about lard and pie crusts and biscuits. It is simply the best. Try frying your popcorn next time in lard. Lard lasts probably forever when kept frozen, nearly indefinitely when kept in the refrigerated and long enough for my mom and dad when kept in a cabinet. You are not using enough if you have to ask how long it keeps!
Lard has a high smoke point because of its high saturated fatty acids. Thus it produces very little smoke when heated. It combines well with other foods giving them a distinct and pleasant taste. It makes flakier crusts than butter because of its higher melting point. It has no trans fats. I guess you could say it doesn’t smoke, drink or run around. However lard is not recommended for birth control in that the only known attempt produced “the lard baby”.Do you enjoy this blog? Do you find the information helpful? Then go ahead and treat me to a coffee or send me a tip! I love Starbucks Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte. Choose any amount you wish, whatever you feel this blog is worth to you.