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When you think about lard, what is the first thing that comes to mind? We’re betting it’s the word “unhealthy.” Pure lard, or the boiled-down renderings of pig fat, was once the choice ingredient in many recipes. Yet, you’d be hard pressed to find 100% pure leaf lard anywhere on the shelves of chain supermarkets today. Why did lard get such a bad reputation?
At the turn of the century most Americans were cooking with lard and most had smaller waist sizes than the average person of today. The average weight of a soldier enlisting into the Army during WWII was a paltry 135 lbs. However, in 1911, Procter & Gamble decided to create a food additive using hydrogenated cottonseed oil. This is how the production of modern day “lard” as we know it began. Now, most Americans believe that lard is comprised of “bad” fats, or rather, contains heart-stopping levels of saturated fats. But the reality is, leaf lard is actually lower in saturated fats, and packed full of the good fats we all need. But we’ll get to that shortly.
Lard bought in most grocers is made of fat rendered from various areas of the pig, and thus, hydrogenated to extend the shelf-life and make it a solid at room temperature. Leaf lard specifically is rendered from the visceral fat surrounding the pig’s kidneys and loin, which keeps it un-hydrogenated in its purest form, making very easy to spread even at room temperatures. Leaf lard also has a high smoking-point, which makes it ideal for frying, searing, or baking! The flavor of leaf lard is very mild and doesn’t make the resulting product taste like pork, so bakers particularly love using this type of rendered fat for a super flaky pie crust or pastry.
And, according to our research, lard is finally making a comeback! The rise in interest of naturally sourced and local foods has sparked a renaissance of pure leaf lard, and recent science has emerged that it can, in fact, be good for you! Leaf Lard contains up to 50% of monounsaturated fat (the same type of fat found in olive oil) and is actually lower in saturated fat than other animal fats like butter and tallow! Plus, monounsaturated fat is heart-healthy and can help you to curb your hunger and slim down. In its natural form, 100% pure leaf lard has none of the trans fats that we know are bad for you.
Lard is also the reason that your grandmother’s pastries tasted so incredibly light and flakey. Chef Zarela Martinez says that, “Lard is the fat that has the largest crystals, so it’s going to make things like tamales and pastries the fluffiest and flakiest.” Not to mention, it’s a sustainable product and a great way to ensure that every part of every pig is used while being broken down for various meat products.
If that isn’t enough to make you make the switch, consider this; lard is exceptionally high in vitamin D! It contains almost as much vitamin D as cod liver oil and can help you to absorb more calcium. There is a catch, however. According to Dr. Andrew Weil, “Only lard from pastured hogs contains vitamin D, since the pigs must have access to sunlight to synthesize the vitamin D and store it in their fatty tissues.”
You can find 100% pure leaf lard and more at Farmview Market! Also located right inside our marketplace, our expert butchers can carve, cut, and prepare any type of meat you’d like. They can also give you tips for preparing foods with this exceptional leaf lard so you can start cooking up the best flakey pastries and fried chicken.
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