Despite it’s soft texture and milky white color, I believe lard has a sharp, clean look to it. Spoonful by spoonful I find myself using more and more of it; just enamored with pork fat.
In recent years there’s been a resurgence or rebirth of lard, this amazing pork product now has an artisan following. People are discovering through farmers markets and CSAs that lard, well, it’s got more of a health kick to it than vegetable shortenings, the former supplanter of lard, created with hydrogenated oils to extend shelf life.
And according to Weed ‘em & Reap, Lard has about 48% monounsaturated fat, second only to olive oil coming in at 77%. Monounsaturated fat is the good fat which lowers LDL cholesterol levels, the bad stuff that clogs arteries and leaves HDL, the good cholesterols alone.
Lard’s main fat, oleic acid, is known to decrease risk of depression. And lard also contains high amounts of vitamin D, an immune booster.
But despite all the benefits all lards are not created equal. You don’t want to buy the stuff for sale in the grocery store, as Elizabeth Swenson explains, sourcing is vital to finding quality lard. The lard sold in the supermarket cooler section has been hydrogenated, which means these processed oils will raise LDL and lower HDL, the reverse of lard’s beneficial paradigm.
Key to obtaining high quality lard is knowing your producer. I buy my lard from Greyrock Farm CSA in Cazenovia, N.Y. What’s wonderful about purchasing it there is that I have met the hogs it comes from. And most importantly, I’m friends with the farmer who slaughters the hog and harvest the lard, farmer Matt. The pigs are all pastured and are treated humanely until their last day.
So try lard for yourself! Try it instead of butter on toast, add a little smear of homemade jam. Use it in your pie crust, it will never be flakier. Use it for anything, you won’t ever go back to shortening.
Stay tuned for my next essay about lard.