The Truth About Lard & Why You Should Use It

by lydia on May 10, 2011

I switched to using lard in my kitchen about a year ago. My first reason was to use a healthier animal fat, secondly I wanted the most affordable healthy fat I could find. Lard is a great source of vitamin D, if it is truly pastured lard. It also happens to be very cheap in my opinion. I can get a rather large tub for only $6, and it lasts me for months (and I use it daily).

Pork lard in glass bowl

If you haven’t read up on healthy fats, which you should use vs. which you shouldn’t use, it’s high time you did. The best source to read, in my opinion, is by May Enig and Sally Fallon, ‘The Skinny on Fats‘. A lengthy exposition of all the benefits of saturated fats, the dangers of polyunsaturates, an explanation of lipid hypothesis and how we’ve come to wrongly blaming saturated  fats for all our problems. You will be enlightened by this thorough read. Even more so enlightening is the fact that eating lots of good animal fats will NOT make you fat. (Just look at any of my pictures, I eat lots of fat!)

Health Benefits Of Lard

Lard or pork fat is about 40 % saturated, 48% monounsaturated and 12% polyunsaturated. The amount of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids will vary in lard according to what has been fed to the pigs. Truly pastured pigs not fed on grain feed will have a higher omega 3 ratio, which is a good thing. In the tropics, lard can also be a good source of lauric acid if the pigs have eaten coconuts. Lard is a very stable fat therefore is an excellent choice for frying.  Lard is excellent for your skin. Traditional peoples that consumed lard were known to have excellent skin with few to no wrinkles, even those cultures that had ample access to sun.  For more facts about lard check out this post by Footsteps Farm Today.

If you are a follower of the Weston A. Price Foundation you probably know that this particular fat source is highly recommended. However you won’t find the use of lard in Nourishing Traditions – but Sally Fallon does recommend it’s use. I have heard her state in interviews and talks that just one tablespoon of pastured lard can contain 1000 IU of vitamin D. That’s a great source of vitamin D, a nutrient that is highly lacking in the modern American diet causing all kinds of rampant health conditions.

In my opinion it’s best to find a local source of pastured lard instead of using your bacon grease. If you purchase bacon from the supermarket, that is not pastured you really don’t know the quality of the fat. Most pigs are fed a high grain feed which will not give you fat that is high in omega 3′s. If you do use bacon grease from bacon other than pastured, I would limit it’s use, or be very sure to limit other omega 6 sources in your diet as well as increase your omega 3 consumption. (but more on all of that in an upcoming post!)

Why Did Crisco Replace Lard in the Kitchen Larder?

I don’t know about most of you but I grew up with a can of crisco in my mom’s kitchen cupboard. It was simply the norm, right?! So fast forward to my adulthood when cooking became my own task and, might I add, I became somewhat of what I like to call a ‘gourmond’. But really I just now know it’s because I prefer natural things and real food. Anyway, I began to follow Martha Stewart and she always included full fats in all her recipes, and guess what, they always tasted better to me. I didn’t really get to explore with lard too much in my early days of learning to cook, simply because it wasn’t really available. At the time I certainly did not know about pastured lard and it’s health benefits. The point of all of this is that we are simply just a couple generations removed from the regular use of this amazing fat being utilized in the kitchen. It’s a traditional fat that has benefitted various nations for ages and ages. We just happened to be brought into the world after the industrial revolution, where everything got cheap for a reason. I won’t go into that, but read up here if you are intrigued by the history of crisco as it replaced lard.

Where To Purchase & How To Use

If you live in the lower Southeastern pocket of Pennsylvania, you can purchase lard from Red Haven Farm at  the Media Farmer’s Market, as well as Lindenhoff Farm at the West Chester Grower’s Market. I have some lard in my refrigerator currently that I obtained about 2 months ago, it’s only about half gone and it only cost me $6. I use it every day when I cook my eggs or when I saute veggies, or meat. I have used it a time or two in baking and the results are phenomenal.  (try out these Almond Cookies using lard.) To learn how to render lard, check out this helpful post by Nourished Kitchen, as well as this video done by Sarah at The Healthy Home Economist. Also, you can purchase a Weston Price Shopping Guide for $1, a great resource of where to purchase not only lard, but all of the best quality real food products you can find nationwide.

This post contribute to Real Food Wednesdays and the Weekend Gourmet Blog Carnival.

 

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jo-Lynne {Musings of a Housewife} May 11, 2011 at 6:43 am

We love lard! :-) I agree, a quart seems to last forever. I get it for $5 at Spring Water Farm.

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Natalie May 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm

My great grandmother and grandmother used lard in their cooking for years and live to be 95 years old and 90 years old. Maybe this is why they didn’t have cancer or other disease and live to be a ripe old age. This is something to think about.

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Barb @ A Life in Balance May 11, 2011 at 7:33 am

I rendered lard from a local source this spring, and I still haven’t used it. I think I was worried about the taste, but I’m also concerned about getting enough vitamin d into my kids.

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lydia May 11, 2011 at 11:19 am

Go for it Barb – you are sure to get hooked!!!

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Katie May 11, 2011 at 3:24 pm

I’ll be getting some lard in a couple of months that comes from pastured pigs, and am quite excited about it! My grandmother used to use it in her cooking all the time when I was growing up, and she always had the best food :) How long does your lard stay fresh in the refrigerator?

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lydia May 11, 2011 at 8:17 pm

Hi Katie – lard lasts a LONG time in the fridge, months and months. It’s a very stable fat, so it should be fine. If you aren’t sure you will use it all in say 6 months you could freeze it.

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Barb @ A Life in Balance May 16, 2011 at 4:05 pm

lydia – I tried sauteing veggies in lard last week. It was great! No noticeable smell.

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sammi September 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

If I have a recipe that calls for Crisco … do I substitute the lard equally? 1:1 ratio?

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lydia September 24, 2011 at 7:01 am

That’s what I would do!

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Pastured PIGS??? December 5, 2011 at 7:52 am

What is “pastured pigs”, please? Pigs are supposed to eat corn. That’s how you get them fat, and why Mexicans are so fat because they eat a corn-based diet.

So where do you buy lard online if you’re not in the SouthEast?

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Jaime June 17, 2014 at 11:06 pm

Traditionally, hogs were raised more on tubers and finished on tree nuts. As far as Mexicans being fat goes, it has nothing to do with eating a corn based diet. The majority you see in the states tend to eat high amounts of flour tortillas, more processed foods, and sugary crap. The increase in obesity in Mexico recently correlates directly with the introduction of American mass produced foods or Mexican products that are following suit. Traditionally the diet of corn tortillas with beans and squash cooked in lard with lots of eggs, peppers and other veggies and fruits helped Mexicans regularly live to their 90s with relatively good health. Globalization is the bigger contributor to obesity regardless of the race or nationality.

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Kay May 30, 2012 at 6:17 pm

try using lard to make biscuits or pie crust….it makes them so much better than other oils or shortenings!!!!
I speak from experience…lol : )

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Natalie May 5, 2014 at 3:11 pm

This is so true…

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cindi May 31, 2012 at 11:06 am

Lard Rules… We only use that for frying fish and making popcorn. The taste is incredible that it imparts. Loved the whole article and the links you provided. Have a great day.

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Geri Janzen March 29, 2014 at 3:37 pm

I live in WI. where would I get lard? My mom always used it for pie crust and I did too when I was first married. Then Crisco got popular and have used that ever since. I have tried using butter to make pie crust but it’s too rich, pie crust gets too dark and burns too easily.

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lydia March 29, 2014 at 4:18 pm

Geri – You can buy it online if you can’t find it locally. US Wellness Meats in one place I know of – (affiliate link) http://divinehealthfromtheinsideout.com/USWELLNESSMEATS

You could try to source out local pig farms to you and find out if you can lard. Also, look for farmer’s markets in your area that have meat vendors. If you need help sourcing those – contact your local Weston A. Price Chapter by searching for one in your area: http://www.westonaprice.org

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