I know it might seem a shock to learn that lard is soooo much better for the environment then most vegetable oils.
And here is why, most vegetable oils are grown in large mono-crops, sprayed liberally with nasty chemicals, usually GMO, oxidize quickly especially once heated transforming into trans fatty acid, they are heavily processed, popped in a plastic bottle and shipped around the world (thats a large carbon foot print right there)
Lard and tallow if managed right, grow in our own back yard, or a local organic famers.
Lard and tallow are an extremely versatile fat: It doesn't smoke at high temperatures, so it's perfect for high heat cooking or frying. This also means it doesn’t break down and oxidize, creating harmful free radicals (the reason you don’t cook extra virgin olive oil at high temperatures).
It has less saturated fat than butter. Yes, that’s right lard and tallow has 20 percent less saturated fat than butter; it's also higher in monounsaturated fats, which are good for cardiovascular health. Lard is also rich in oleic acid, the same fatty acid that is in olive oil and praised for its health benefits. In addition, it has no trans fats like its synthetic counterpart, shortening.
Choose lard from pasture-raised pigs. And tallow from pasture raised mutton and beef (which is pretty easy here in nz) The fat composition of lard rendered from pigs on pasture is better for you than lard from pigs raised in industrial confinement. And if you can, render the lard at home – as commercial lard is bleached and deodorized – and sometimes has actually been hydrogenated to make it last longer (aka trans fats are added!).
Lard contains about one third as much cholesterol as butter… that’s 12mg per tbsp vs. 31mg per tbsp. Our bodies need fat to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E and K. Without dietary fats, our bodies have a hard time absorbing these critical vitamins. Necessary for immunity and general health.
Lard and tallow is sustainable! If you use lard to cook, you use more of the animal thus wasting less and being more environmentally conscious. So when cooking any type of pork, mutton, poultry or beef that contains a lot of fat, make sure to cook it slow and save the fatty drippings for future cooking!
Most butchers and home killer service's throw out kilos and kilos of fat everyday, which i find crazy we should be rendering it into a very sustainable fat to buy on our supermarket shelves rather then importing GMO vegetable oils, lets get smart, lets think, buy and eat local.
(so next time your at your local butcher ask for some fat and have a go at rendering your own)
You will find theses very sustainable fats in my soaps, shampoos, lotions and salves for both sustainability and skin care reasons, since outdoor pork, motton and beef spend plenty of time in the sun, eating a varied diet, their fat is full of ultra rich in the same kinds of lipids that are found naturally in youthful, healthy looking skin. Grass fed tallow and lard also contains fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E & K. All intrinsically balanced by nature, with no further improvement or enrichment needed., the fatty acids in pure grass fed tallow and lard are similar in molecular structure and composition to those found in the protective outer layer of human skin and in naturally produced skin oils (sebum).This makes grass fed tallow and lard highly skin compatible, allowing it to absorb easily into the skin and hair to improve the protective barrier function of the skin and hair, prevent moisture loss and regenerate the appearance of healthy, youthful looking skin and hair.
STEARIC ACID AND OLEIC ACID
These are both found in the protective outer layer of the skin and in sebum. These fatty acids have moisturising, softening, regenerative and anti-inflammatory properties. Stearic acid improves skin’s suppleness and flexibility, aiding with damage repair and barrier function. Oleic acid (Omega 9) also helps the other active components penetrate deeply into the skin and hair.
CLA (CONJUGATED LINOLENIC ACID)
Has anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
PALMITOLEIC ACID (OMEGA 7)
Is the most active anti-microbial found in our sebum. Palmitoleic acid is also a basic building block of our skin , but it’s production declines with age.
Aids with smoothing the appearance of skin and hair and helps to improve barrier protection. It’s production in skin also declines with age.
AN OPTIMAL BALANCE OF ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS, ALPHA-LINOLENIC (OMEGA 3) AND LINOLEIC ACIDS (OMEGA 6), IN A RATIO OF ALMOST 1:1.
These essential fatty acids have a role in maintaining the structural integrity and barrier function of skin, they also influence inflammatory and immune responses in the skin.
VITAMINS A, D, E AND K
All of which are particularly nurturing for the skin and hair, and are only naturally found together in animal products.
how to render animal fat
There is no reason not to render a lot of fat at the same time. It keeps. I use a 30L pot.
You have two ways to prep the fat. First cut off any visible bits of meat. This will speed up the rendering process. Then if you have a meat grinder you should grind it up. This is the best. If you don't, then dice the fat into pieces smaller than walnut size. This is a lot of cutting, but the small size works better. The boiling of fat takes a long time. Many hours. It does not melt easily. I would start it early in the morning.
Use a stainless steel pot with a thick bottom. Stir often, especially in the beginning. It will become a liquid with lots of solid pieces floating in it. After a while a few pieces may stick to the bottom, if there are one hour gaps between stirring.
The liquid does get a little yellow. One wrote that sometimes grass fed animals produce yellowish fat. I have only rendered grass-fed pork and grass-fed beef. Your goal is no moisture at all. None. This is key for preservation. If you did not put the fat through a meat grinder I recommend inserting a stick blender in the mixture to chop up the chunks. Be careful not to pull it out and splatter hot fat all over.
I remove it from the burner before it gets to 107 C. That way I'm sure that it is done, and still haven't overheated it.
I let it get up to 115 C before I turned it off and poured into my pans.
For straining I first used a very fine strainer and put a piece of cheese cloth in it. Not sure why the cheese cloth was needed, but everybody seems to use it. Maybe to make cleaning easier. Since the strainer was much smaller than the volume of chunks in the boiling pan, I held back the chunks with a spoon and only poured out the liquid that came out easily. In large pots i use a ladle which is not particularly efficient but works when the pot is physically to big to pour from. And I no longer use cheese cloth.
I use a large spoon to press the chunk against the sides. I store my rendered fat at room temperature in 1L agee jars. Cleaning is a mess. Make sure your hot water is very hot. Put as little fat down the drain as possible.