Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Do yourself a flavor favor
I didn't want to do it. I mean, being broke is one thing, but sacrificing my family's health to save a few cents is really pushing it. I had to buy shortening, but the lard was just cheaper than Crisco and in the end I figured it wouldn't kill us to try it. At least not right away.
Before putting it in my cart I thought I'd make a quick comparison of nutrition labels, just to see how much worse it really was. To my complete shock and amazement I found that the labels were actually identical. WHAT!!
How could this be. Lard is pig fat. Vegetable shortening is made from vegetables. Who are they trying to fool. Then I really started thinking. I've known for a long time that margarine is way worse for you than real butter. Why should lard verses crisco be any different. Now I really had to get to the bottom of this.
After a very brief search online I was able to find some answers.
Here's the skinny on the fat.
Vegetable shortening is made by hydrogenating soybean oil. The hydrogenating chemically changes the oil to a solid. These are also called trans fats. Those are bad. Now before I go any further I have to say that the lard that you buy on the store shelf next to the shortening is hydrogenated as well. So it isn't any better, but it isn't any worse.
The real major difference comes in the end result of your baked goods. As a long time avid baker I had often heard that lard was the way to go to produce the flakiest pie crusts and biscuits. I was delighted to discover for myself that it is absolutely true. We have been enjoying the best biscuits and gravy, chicken and dumplings, and pot pie. The texture is superb and the flavor is great to.
I don't do much deep frying but have learned that the amount of fat absorbed by your doughnuts, egg rolls, or other deep fried delights is actually based on how long it is in the fat, not what type of fat or oil you use. Since lard can be used at higher temperatures than other oils and fats, your food will cook quicker and therefore absorb less.
As a final note, if you can get ahold of fresh lard this is the best option of all. One more bennefit of raising a family pig or two.