Lard.

Fat.

“Fat makes you fat.”

“If I eat fat it might kill me, my heart and all. That’s what my doctor said.”

In no other culture in history has fat been vilified. Until our “modern”, “advanced” culture.  Throughout history, people understood that you needed a certain amount of good animal fat for health. Health is wealth, so fat was a measure of wealth. 

Not that obesity is a good thing, but neither is  being scrawny.  

Good quality, nutrient dense fat eaten to satisfaction in the scope of a whole foods diet is essential and necessary for your health.  

What does fat do for you?

  • Lubricate your colon for good waste elimination.
  • Encourage good gallbladder function, which also supports the liver, lymphatic system, and immune system.
  • Keep blood vessels soft and supple.
  • Provide fat soluble vitamins.
  • Feed your brain and nervous system.
  • Calm your mood, easing anxiety.
  • Encourage feelings of satisfaction and contentment.
  • Satiate and nourish your system so you experience fewer cravings and are satisfied with less food overall.
  • Condition the skin for good skin health

What is “good fat?”

That’s a great question! Good fat is fat that is not highly processed and is from a nutrient dense source. Animal fats should be sourced from animals raised outside on grass, preferably with organic practices (not necessarily certified by the USDA, though). Animal fats are preferable for high heat uses like baking and frying because they don’t break down and oxidize with the heat. There are some plant oils that tolerate high heat (like avocado and peanut oils). But animal fats are highly accessible, local sources of heat tolerant cooking fats. Local is important as what is available around you is necessary for your health in your climate. If you can grow and process it, then the quality and benefit of that food will be imparted to you and your body can use the building blocks for health more efficiently.  Lard (pork fat), tallow (rendered beef fat), and schmaltz (rendered chicken fat) all have different properties but will yield quality products.

Tallow comes from a beef. A good, grass fed beef will yield nice yellow fat. It’s very hard, even at room temperature. It typically has a mild beefy/grass flavor, as opposed to a corn flavor from a grain fed cow.  It’s fabulous for cooking and frying. You can also use it for soap, skin lotion, and candles.

Lard comes from a pig. The leaf lard is the inner fat from around the organs. It’s a drier, “cleaner” tasting fat. It needs to be rendered before using. Leaf lard is prized for baking and cooking. Your biscuits and pie crust will never be the same after you make them with lard.  Back fat is from the fat cap on the pig’s back. It can be salted in large pieces for lardo, or rendered and used for cooking, baking, and frying.  It’s not as light and “clean” tasting as leaf lard, but works just fine. Lard is also useful for soap and skin lotion. In classes we’ve come up with a lot of other ideas, like hair cream and as gasket lubricant. There are so many possibilities!

Schmaltz (Chicken fat, rendered) is our favorite butter substitute in baking. It has very little to no flavor and has a texture closest to butter. With it’s mild flavor and heat tolerance it’s also great to cook and fry with.

Butter is technically also an animal fat.  Butter from grass fed cows has a beautiful yellow color and is full of fat soluble vitamins, including vitamins A and D.  Can you overeat butter like this? We haven’t found the limit so far.  The creamy sweet/salty taste of grass-fed butter adds a taste of satisfaction and contentment to any dish.

We often encounter this question when it comes the Mangalitsa pig, because the powers that think they be have so hoodwinked people for so long with the low-fat diet lie:

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH ALL THAT “GOODNESS”?

It’s a legitimate question, because the Mangalitsa pig can be 30-40% fat. They were bred to be fat. Back in the day, all pigs were fat. Lard was a major source of fat calories because pigs had a superpower of converting vegetable and assorted protein sources into fat and luscious red meat, and so they were easy to raise and relatively affordable for anyone. That superpower has been bred out of  most pig breeds, but not the Mangalitsa.  

In this video you can check out four ways we put all that fat to good use on the Baker’s Green Acres homestead:

 

“Great! But how do I get this lard and how do I render it??”

It used to be you could ask your mom or grandma these things, but that’s not always possible any more, is it? 

We’ve gotcha covered. 

Anyone Can Farm and eat like kings, and lard is a part of a healthy homestead once you know how to use it!