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!)
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. Ugh. 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.