John & Elizabeth
OK- so I melt my pig fat and cook with the lard that results. I stopped buying any sort of vegetable oil about 3 or 4 years ago, with the exception of olive oil. Now, as there is more and more proof that the olive oil available to us in the US is adulterated, old, possibly rancid, I am reluctant to buy it also.
So, now the quart jar of lard sits on my kitchen counter, unless I can afford coconut oil. Just like the coconut oil, the lard has a long shelf life. It is solid at the lower room temperatures, but soft or pretty liquid when the temperature hits the mid 70's. It can be refrigerated, but unless you intend to keep it for years, that is not required. It does not burn easily, and even the regular fat imparts very little flavor to the food you are cooking. The highest grade of lard comes from the fat around the kidneys, and is called "leaf lard". I have asked for it a number of times, but our local butchers are so busy, they are not willing to take the time to separate out the leaf lard. If you are making fine pastries or short cookies that require basic shortening, the leaf lard is what you need, but most biscuits and cornbread, a basic sauté, those are fine with any decent quality lard.
Now, one of the things that I am most conscious of is the amount of hydrogenated fat in our foods. It is often hidden, but if you look carefully, it is in almost every processed food: all of the
cookies, all of the crackers, most of the breads, every roll, cupcake, muffin, Ding Dong and all of those horrible supermarket cookies and birthday cakes with the pounds of frosting. Watch the frozen foods as well, especially those that have a sauce, and many of the salad dressings. Hydrogenated fats have been altered chemically to stabilize them so that they do not spoil easily. Hydrogenated fats are the fats that add to our load of LDL (or bad cholesterol) and create plaques in our veins and arteries that endanger our hearts. Hydrogenated fats tend to be harder to digest.
There is nothing hydrogenated about our lard. I simply melt it at the lowest possible temperature. It is a safe, healthy alternative available locally, from a known source.
Finally, I have friends in the departments of public health associated with some of the local universities. Doctors have been mystified by the recent rise in the incidence of osteoporosis in men. When I was growing up osteoporosis was considered a woman's disease associated with hormonal changes brought on by menopause. Now, many men get it, and in men, the falls involving the large bones (like hips or femurs) are often fatal in the following year. Men do not recover from the loss of mobility and independence the way that women can. But why are men having a higher incidence of osteoporosis any way? Well, we work indoors now. We slather ourselves with sun screen when we go out side. We do less physical labor than ever, especially the kind of physical labor that involves large muscle groups. As a result, there is a lot of vitamin D deficiency in the general population. Now, so many products are "fortified" with vitamin D (milk, bread, cereals, ad infinitum) and many folks are getting a prescription for a vitamin D supplement. This vitamin D added to foods, and prescribed in pills is a synthetic product. It is not as readily absorbed by the body. And, the rates of osteoporosis continue to rise. Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin naturally found in the fat and muscles of pasture raised animals, raised outside in the field. Before WWII that was the only kind of animal any one ate, and there was no Crisco, margarine or corn oil. Many folks worked outdoors, most folks did some sort of physical labor on a regular basis, and BINGO! rates of osteoporosis were low, and virtually non-existent in men. The studies are not complete, but the correlation seems high!
In conclusion, give lard a try. It really is good. It is easy to measure and cook with, and it is a very safe fat. Give me a day or so, and I will put the cornbread with cracklin's on the recipe portion of the site, and I am making corn chowder with our bacon, and frozen local corn from this past summer, so I will put that on the recipe portion of the site as well. Happy cooking! Healthy eating!
Buy our lard here
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