Lard fat and leaf lard have almost been forgotten because lard is often considered the four-letter word for fat, but lard didn't always have a bad reputation.
These days, when people hear the word lard - they think "Heart Attack!".
Yet, good quality lard is not really a saturated fat or a trans fat. It only contains about 40% saturated fat and the rest is mainly monounsaturated fat.
Lard fat is pig fat and can be obtained from any part of the pig as long as there is a high concentration of fatty tissue. And the best quality lard will be leaf lard.
Lard has a high smoking point which makes it safer than using vegetable oils for frying or deep frying. Lard is also extremely stable and will last a long time in the refrigerator.
One hundred years ago, lard or leaf lard was used for cooking in every American home and restaurant. It was the most common cooking fat used and heart disease was unheard of back then.
But, when the vegetable shortening called Crisco made is debut in 1911, this began the campaign to eliminate lard.
Shortening or Crisco, a synthetic substitute for lard was foisted on this country and has proven to be a major health hazard because it contains trans fats.
Trans fats also found in Margarine has substantially increased heart disease.
Shortening and Margarine - May You Rest in Peace!
Leaf lard is the highest grade of lard and is obtained from the fat surrounding the pig's kidneys. Leaf lard has very little pork flavor which makes it ideal for use in baked goods.
The next highest grade of lard comes from the fat between the back skin and flesh of the pig.
And the lowest grade of lard comes from the fat surrounding the pig's digestive organs.
There is also rendered lard that you can easily make yourself.
Just be sure to stay away from industrially produced lard which comes from a mixture of high and low quality fat found throughout the pig and is usually hydrogenated which means it will contain trans fat.
You may have a hard time finding a good leaf lard these days, but you can order it through my affiliate US Wellness Meats.
It's easy to make your own lard and it is important to use the fat from pigs that have been raised humanely outdoors. Most of the lard that you will find at the supermarket is made from animals raised in confinement.
Just remember that pigs that are eating well and soaking up sunshine are going to have Vitamins A and D stored in their fat. This type of lard fat will offer you greater health benefits.