Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pastured Pork Produces Perfect Lard

This is the handout from the 2009 Pastured Pork Seminar in Atlanta, GeorgiaHat tip:  Homestead Hog Forum on Yahoo.  I'm a native Oklahoman, so grew up with a grandma and a mom who could make the most delicious pie crust using lard ... and that's what I use as well for my pie crust which is so flaky you could just blow on it, and it would simply float away.  Spoke to an old-timer recently here in Northern NM who recalled with great fondness the sweet home-made tortillas her mother made and slathered with some lard and a pinch of salt.   I'm going to try my hand at some rendering this week.

Real Lard is rendered pork fat ( it is called tallow if it comes from a ruminant such as beef cattle). RENDERING is gently heating the fat to separate out the protein strands, the “cracklings”. It is a beautiful, white, naturally-hydrogenated, solid fat. Most of its carbon sites are filled with hydrogen’s in their natural and normal cis position just as it comes from the hog. Good lard is only 40% SATURATED fat, with 48% MONOUNSATURATED and 12% POLYUNSATURATED fat.

Lard is stable and the preferred fat for frying, it does not easily turn into trans fats when heated. Potatoes, for example, fried in lard can be cooked in a shorter time at a higher temperature resulting in a better taste and texture as well as less rancidity and embedded oil. Lard is a HEALTH FOOD that needs to be returned to it’s rightful place in the American diet.

There are two kinds of fatty acids we cannot make and are therefore called ESSENTIAL FATTY ACIDS, they and both polyunsaturated 18 carbon molecules. OMEGA 6 is double unsaturated LINOLEIC acid and OMEGA 3 is the triple unsaturated LINOLENIC acid. The omega number refers to the location of the first double bond. Like other polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA’s) they are unstable, go rancid easily and should never be heated. Special and incredibility healthful EFA Omega 3 fats include CONJUGATED LINOLEIC ACID 9CLA0 which is found in grass-fed animals especially ruminants, DHA (the brain fat) and EPA which are found primarily in deep ocean fish, and GLA found in some plant oils.

Organically-raised, foraging and outdoor range hogs have the healthiest lard. Conventionally-raised pork get virtually no exercise, live outdoors and eat no greens. Much of their diet is of the lowest possible quality. This lard is of equally low quality. The diet and lifestyle of the hog radically affects the quality of the lard! Confinement pork lard has similar OMEGA 6:3 ratios to feedlot beef, a 100gm serving has about 8 grams of O-6 and 0.8 grams of O-3. A much more healthful ratio of O-6:O-3 can be achieved by increasing the amount of fresh green forages. The O-3 content can be greatly enhanced by feeding flax seed, sea greens, green algae or fish oils. On the other hand, hogs that eat garbage, especially bakery waste will incorporate toxic trans fats, heavy metals or other toxins in the fat. Free-living warthogs have a ratio approaching 1:1.

The health of Americans plummeted when “politically correct” diet advise recommended vegetable oils for cooking, especially partially-hydrogenated oils. Shortening, for example, is a liquid oil until manufacturers heat it up under pressure, bubble hydrogen gas into it ( with a catalyst to make it all work faster) and force-feed the C double bonds hydrogen atoms that often latch on is a crossways or trans configuration. (“cis” means same side whereas “trans” means on the opposite side). A little bit of hydrogen added in the trans configuration increases shelf life of the oil and allows vegetable oils and corn oil not to go rancid in large, clear containers exposed to light and heat on the store shelves. A lot of hydrogen added in the trans configuration solidifies the liquid oil, creating stick margarine or solid vegetable shortening, such as Crisco. Polyunsaturated oils go rancid easily due to unstable double bonds.

Fats are made of FATTY ACIDS which are carbon-hydrogen chains (C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C-C) that latch on in groups of three to a glycerol backbone to make a TRIGLYCERIDE molecule, which are the basic molecules of which all fats ares made. The length of the carbon chains and where, if any, double bonds (ie, missing hydrogen molecules) occur differentiate the fatty acids one from another. The more double bonds, the more unsaturated. One double bond gives you monounsaturated, many double bonds gives you a polyunsaturated, no double bonds gives you a saturated fatty acid. The main saturated fatty acids (from shortest to longest chains): CAPRIC,LAURIC,MYRISTIC,PALMITIC and STERIC acids. The main monounsaturated is OLEIC acid.

Olive oil contains 71% OLEIC acid, that heart-healthy, monounsaturated fat that we’re supposed to get more of. Lard contains 44 % oleic acid, sesame oil (41%), corn oil (28%), walnut oil (28%), flaxseed oil (21%), cottonseed oil (19%) and sunflower oil (19%), grapeseed oil (15%) and safflower oil (13%), beef tallow (43%), butterfat (29%) and human butterfat (ie the fat of breast milk at 35%).

Lard (14%) of the 18-C saturated fat, STEARIC acid, which has been shown in clinical testing to lower cholesterol.

Like olive oil, lard contains 10% of the omega-6 fatty acid LINOLEIC acid, again, roughly the same as human butterfat (breast milk) at 9%.

Lard contains 2% MYRISTIC acid, a 14-C saturated fat that has been shown to have immune enhancing properties. Human butterfat 8% myristic acid, cottonseed oil (1%0 and the tropical oils, coconut oil (18%) and palm kernel oil (16%) vegetable oils have zero.

Lard contains 26% PALMITIC acid, a 16-C saturated fatty acid, olive oil only 13%, human butterfat contains 25%. Palmitic acid is antimicrobial.

Lard’s basic fatty acid composition is compared to the butterfat of human breast milk. Lard is less saturated and more monounsaturates.

Saturated Monounsaturated Polyunsaturated
Breast Milk 48% 35% 10%
Lard 42% 44% 10%

WE NEED SATURATED FAT- It makes up over half of all cell membranes and gives cells stiffness and integrity. Bones reguire about 50% of the dietary fat to be saturated so calcium can be absorbed. SF lowers Lipoprotein-a in the blood, an inflammatory marker directly associated with the risk of heart disease. SF protects the liver from alcohol, toxins and drugs and they enhance the immune system. Omega 3 fats are retained in the tissue when the diet is rich in SF. Heart muscle contains rich deposits of stearic acid and palmitic fatty acids as they are foods the heart muscle uses and which are drawn upon in time of stress. Many SF have antimicrobial properties and protect us from harmful pathogens in the intestine. There is no scientific evidence to back up claims that SF causes “artery clogging” in fact arterial plaque is only 26% SF the rest unsaturated fat, over half of the plaque is polyunsaturated fat !.

WE NEED CHOLESTEROL- it is only found in animal fat. In spite of being falsely accused of being the cause of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stroke, cholesterol is actually a necessary substance in every body. It is a strong anti-oxidant and free radical scavenger. This is why cholesterol levels go up as we get older since we need more protection. Cholesterol makes up a large portion of the brain, is the root of all corticosteroids and hormones in the body, it is the precursor to vitamin D. It keeps our skin soft and moist, and makes the bile which we need to digest fat. Mother’s breast milk is very high in it (which should tell us something!). Our bodies make over 2000mg daily whereas a maximum of only 100mg can be absorbed from the diet, so it’s pretty clear how shaky and wrong the connection of heart disease to dietary cholesterol intake. It is oxidative stress that causes cholesterol to elevate in the bloodstream in response to excessive free radicals. In the skin, uv light causes the production of free radicals, known carcinogens and aging factor, which damage the vital phospholipids of the skin unless the cholesterol is there in adequate supplies to protect it. Cholesterol is required for proper function of serotonin (the “feel good” brain chemical) such that low cholesterol levels are associated with aggression, violence, depression and suicidal tendencies. Cholesterol lowering drugs, especially the statins, are intrinsically toxic to the liver, they deplete CoQ10, an enzyme needed by all muscles by (note that the heart is a muscle), and ultimately leaves us dangerously exposed to oxidizers, free radicals and other damaging agents.

TRANS FATS- Are one of the most dangerous foods in the world. They serve no purpose in the body except to cause inflammation, cancer and degenerative disease. TF began to enter the diet of Americans around 1910. Not too many years later we began to see the heart attack “epidemic” begin. Now most Americans consume up to or more than 20% of their fat intake as trans fats. French fries have about 40% TF, cookies and crackers range from 35-50%, and donuts are 35-40% TF. If mothers eat TF it will cross the placenta and every cell in the baby will contain TF, even the brain. Every cellmembrane is a layer of fat with a thin protein coating on both sides. If TF gets built into the membrane it is defective and won’t resist viral or other infection and it becomes cancer prone (seen most often in the current skin cancer “epidemic”). TF causes problems in the brain as DHA or other brain fats cannot be made from it, and the stiff and straight abnormal molecule creates overly rigid membranes. By eating a good balance of SATURATED FATS, POLYUNSATURATES and ADVOIDING TF, it is thought that we can prevent MS, ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s disease as well as depression, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses.




EAT YOUR CHOLESTEROL, William Campbell Douglass 1985

THE MILK BOOK, William Campbell Douglas 1985

THE CHOLESTEROL MYTHS, Uffee Ravnskov, 1999


EAT FAT, LOSE FAT, Sally Fallon, 2005

KNOW YOUR FATS, Mary Enig, 1999

PASTURE PERFECT, Jo Robinson, 2004

SMART FATS, Michael Schmidt, 1997

PIG PERFECT, Peter Kaminsky, 2005


  1. So glad to meet your gnosis. Dennis

  2. *No need to publish this comment - just a typo you might want to catch*

    In WE NEED CHOLESTEROL- it is only found in animal fat. In spite of being falsely accused of being the cause of atherosclerosis, heart attack and stork, cholesterol

    I think you mean stROkE. For a moment I had these visions of cholesterol causing large birds that bring babies to cabbage patches... :)


    in Vermont

  3. Likewise, Dennis! Thanks for stopping by. Kimberly

  4. Hi Walter, Nice to have you stop by. ;-) I've been a fan of your blog for a long time. In fact, you've taught me a lot about raising hogs!

    Typo corrected lest anyone get the wrong idea about the goings on over here...

    Best, K


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