As a culture, we’ve been afraid of fat for a long time. And, lard, the grandmother of all fats, has been shunned, or at least replaced, in many kitchens (except for maybe Grandma’s). But, why?Information about food is everywhere now and we have a more in depth understanding of what we are eating and why. We now know (or can easily google and find out) the difference between good carbs and bad carbs; the way different fats break down; an abundance of alternatives to refined sugar. Generally speaking, we care more about what we are putting into our bodies, and we’re more open to the idea that maybe what we grew up thinking were healthy foods aren’t actually the best option for our well-being, or vice versa.
We owe it to ourselves to be educated so we can make the best choices. So, let’s revisit our old buddy, Lard, and find out where this traditional staple fits in today, and not just in Grandma’s kitchen.
1. The Chemistry of Fat
The saturated fat that lard contains, despite its bad reputation, has not been shown to raise cholesterol levels by any large degree for most people in the population. The chemistry of saturated fat makes it more difficult to break down under exposure to heat. This break down, or oxidization, is what can make fat molecules harmful to the body. For this reason, poly and trans fats (like those in processed oils and margarine) oxidize more and are potentially more harmful. Lard’s percentage of saturated fat helps make it more heat stable, so it oxidizes less.
One thing that is not sustainable is creating waste. Among those who raise, cook, and eat animals, there is a growing appreciation for the nose-to-tail methodology, which tries to use every part of the animal so little goes to waste. The kind of lard Tidal Creek stocks is made from pasture-raised pigs. The animals root and forage, which turns the topsoil and naturally fertilizes the ground. If you purchase your lard from a local farmer, you’re helping to sustain the local economy.
SEE ALSO: Benefits of Eating Seasonally
3. Lard makes things taste good!
No, lard doesn’t taste like pork. It’s virtually tasteless and odorless. The large fat crystals of lard are what make it a great option for baking. Ask any serious baker, and you’ll get a wide range of opinions on preferred fat for the best biscuits and pie crusts, but lard makes for a tender, flaky crumb that is hard to beat. Lard also has a high smoke point, so it’s great for frying.
Lard isn’t going to work for everyone, especially those who abstain from animal products. But if you’re following a paleo diet, like experimenting with new things, crave the wholesome and nostalgic taste of your grandmother’s baked goods, or want to steer away from processed oils, then lard should be in your shopping basket.