25 Mar2011

Creme de la creme refers to best of the best. So why not the “fattest of the fat”, at least for the realm of pork lard? :) But first, let me point out that FULLY 70% of readers who responded to my poll on butter vs. lard were WRONG. Butter is NOT more healthy than natural homemade lard. :) I love it when conventional wisdom or perception is dead wrong. Now you have some randomly ridiculous bit of trivia to throw into a dinner or lunch conversation when someone says pork fat is evil. Hahaha. Use that tidbit well, it will make you seem more erudite. If you have to look up erudite, then the tidbit will be even more useful. :)

Your body does NEED fat as part of its daily diet. Of course “overdoing it” regardless of source of fat is bad. Just like eating too much sugar is bad. Too much salt is bad. Too many carbohydrates is bad. Too many beans are bad. However, surprisingly, pork fat and lard has perhaps borne the brunt of the bad rap on fat, even more so than butter. For a while, butter was equally demonized and margarine was the supposed “Fat King”. I never bought into that line of logic at all. And neither did our parents… margarine was NOT part of the grocery list growing up. And now it turns out that margarine, along with other heat treated and processed or hydrogenated fats, are possibly the evilest of the evil fats. Think you’re doing yourself a favor by using purico or crisco or vegetable shortening or hydrogenated vegetable oils? After the newest research on the evils of hydrogenation, start to think again.

It was perhaps simply coincidence that I have recently been experimenting with rendering our own lard, and by chance, rendering tampalen, the source of all that glorious lard in the photos above. I quote from Jennifer McLagan’s book on “Fat” when she writes: “Also called flead or flare fat, leaf lard (tampalen) is the fat from around the pig’s kidneys. Ideal for making pastry because of its brittle crystalline structure, this is the creme de la creme of pork fat.” Fatback is the other more common source of lard.

So the obvious question has to be, how bad or good is homemade lard? In this article that appeared in Food & Wine and entitled “Lard: The New Health Food?”, the author explores the positives of lard in comparison to other fats and has some interesting points. Another article in the The New York Times, entitled “High on the Hog” supports many of the same positive points of lard, and compares its properties with butter, vegetable shortening, etc. Both conclude that good homemade lard isn’t so bad after all. In fact, it is probably better than butter and certainly better than any trans fat of any source… Amazing. But the best part is, it tastes so darned good. Or it makes such brilliant pastries and pie crusts. Or it fries up things to a wonderful light crispiness. Praise the Lard indeed. :)

If you want to appear even more “lard-washed”, consider this quote from Penelope Casas’ book Delicioso, where she says that lard “(has) many of the healthful qualities of olive oil, it is much lower in saturated fats than butter or beef fats and has the acids that seem to… reduce cholesterol levels”. This last quote I read in Leanne Kitchen’s book entitled “The Butcher”. So give me the numbers, you say (data from the book “Fat” by Jennifer McLagan:

Butter : 50% Saturated Fat, 30% Monounsaturated Fat, 4% Polyunsaturated Fat
Beef Tallow: 50% Saturated Fat, 42% Monounsaturated Fat, 4% Polyunsaturated Fat
Lamb Tallow: 47% Saturated Fat, 40% Monounsaturated Fat, 9% Polyunsaturated Fat
Pork Lard : 39% Saturated Fat, 45% Monounsaturated Fat, 11% Polyunsaturated Fat
Duck Fat: 33% Saturated Fat, 50% Monounsaturated Fat, 13% Polyunsaturated Fat
Goose Fat 28% Saturated Fat, 57% Monounsaturated Fat, 11% Polyunsaturated Fat

One of the best all-natural and untreated or unheated oils is probably olive oil, and here is it’s profile, according to Wikipedia:

Olive Oil: 14% Saturated Fat, 73% Unsaturated Fat, 11% Polyunsaturated Fat

Note, goose fat is looking pretty darned good as well. And it makes wonderful french fries… :)

But IF you are eating ANY FAT that is heat-treated or hydrogenated, from what I understand, these contain the terribly evil trans fats, which are considered now to be worse than almost any type of natural animal fat. So the bottom line is, pork lard isn’t as bad as it seems. And it is BETTER for you than BUTTER, numbers wise. Of course, there is the issue of TASTE. I still wouldn’t slather lard on my toast and top with marmalade, but I would definitely reach for a stunning sweet butter from say France or the Scandinavian countries for that purpose. So each has its uses, but numbers wise, LARD outshines BUTTER. :)

The Teen is on school holiday at the moment, so she had yet another indulgent breakfast (trust me, she doesn’t do this too often) this morning that nicely closes off this post. A slice of apple pie with a la crust made with lard (SUPERB!, more on this soon), a leftover kamote doughnut deep-fried in lard, and a square of moist brownie, best made with superb butter. :)



  1. jem says:

    Hi, you may have misspelled the word “bat” in this sentence. “Too much salt is bat.” =)

    Mar 25, 2011 | 1:05 pm


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  3. Maria Isabel Rodrigo says:

    I see. Now we have to include lard on our pantry and use it more often.

    Mar 25, 2011 | 1:27 pm

  4. Ryan says:

    Sir, thank you for dropping by my blog this morning! I was surprised to see your comment! Anyway, I use pork lard on most of my pastry needs like in pie crust and the empanada post you commented in. But I usually buy mine in this large wholesale baking store near us. I’m afraid that homemade pork lard will go rancid quickly, does it? How long is the shelf life of your self rendered fats? No, I don’t mean YOUR fats… you get the idea :D

    Mar 25, 2011 | 1:27 pm

  5. zerho says:

    I knew I was right!!! Lard tramps butter!!

    Mar 25, 2011 | 1:42 pm

  6. Luanne Shackelford says:

    After reading a lot of information from the Weston A. Price society, I began rendering my own lard from leaf-lard. Living in the Philippines makes a lot of good eating a lot easier and finding good pork fat is one of the benefits! I make lard and store it in the fridge (in use) and the freezer (future use). I also make my own rich broths and save the beef fat for frying potatoes. Can’t be beat!

    Mar 25, 2011 | 1:46 pm

  7. kitchen says:

    hahaha Praise the Lard indeed! like the shirt you posted before…

    Mar 25, 2011 | 1:47 pm

  8. Marketman says:

    kitchen, yup, now I’m thinking “Oh My Lard”… :) Luanne, suet or beef tallow is FLAVORFUL. Zerho, one of the 30%. Ryan, beware lard from wholesale baking stores… many times they are hydrogenated vegetable lard or shortening. And if pork lard, often hydrogenated or heat treated for longer shelf life but now possess more evil transfats. Making it at home is easy. And it stays pretty fresh for 2-2.5 months in the fridge, and if frozen several months I would imagine. In Cebu, several old-timers have told me that YEAR-OLD lard is used for making tortas for the annual fiesta. How’s that for AGED lard? jem, thanks for catching that, mistake has been edited.

    Mar 25, 2011 | 1:54 pm

  9. Peach says:

    I have been scrimping on the wrong stuff all this time!!! I’ve been wanting to try chicken fried in pork lard. Secret daw to Max’s fried chicken.

    Mar 25, 2011 | 1:55 pm

  10. Marketman says:

    Peach, just did a large roasted chicken in the oven for lunch, basted with lard, and it was SUPERB. :)

    Mar 25, 2011 | 2:08 pm

  11. Nadia says:

    Hi MM. Sorry to have to re-post this here but I don’t think you read or ever answered my previous post last March 20 on Verdicchio…”Where in Manila can I buy the Podium Verdicchio?”

    Thanks and praise the lard indeed!

    Mar 25, 2011 | 2:56 pm

  12. Ryan says:

    I googled on how to render pork lard and I found this.


    Is this the same way on how you render? It’s basically, chop up the leaf fat (tampalen), place on a pan with a bit of water and just heat it up until the bits becomes crispy. Do you do it this way?

    Mar 25, 2011 | 3:01 pm

  13. Marketman says:

    Nadia, Podium Verdicchio available at all Bacchus outlets, including Shangrila beside megamall, at the shangrila makati and Bacchus Epicerie in Rockwell. Ryan, here is my post on rendering tampalen. I didn’t bother to add water, but you might want to do that to prevent any scorching of fat. I did it in a large wok outdoors. Some do in in the oven, heat at a low 230-250F. You may also want to strain through cheesecloth to remove solids. Also, keep the flame as low as possible so the lard doesn’t color…

    Mar 25, 2011 | 3:40 pm

  14. Ryan says:

    Thanks MM!

    Mar 25, 2011 | 4:15 pm

  15. joey says:

    No arguments here! I can and always will get behind the cause of my glorious pork! :) Lard and all! Your photos of the lard are just gorgeous MM…they look so pure. This is definitely a precious stash you have there.

    Mar 25, 2011 | 4:34 pm

  16. Junb says:

    I’m one of those who vote for lard. Yup in the old days lard is the queen of our kitchen and my mom used for almost everything.

    Mar 25, 2011 | 4:49 pm

  17. calorie-shmalorie says:

    am envious of the undoubtedly flaky pie crust on the apple pie slice. time to try lard making. i voted for butter in the survey.. by ‘healthier’ fat, i was thinking – which animal gets less antibiotics, hormones and whatnot? but then again, milking cows get similar type meds as pigs. good to have the numbers. thanks MM.

    what’s ‘duck’ and ‘goose’ in tagalog nga? bibe, itik, pato, gansa?

    Mar 25, 2011 | 6:10 pm

  18. Peach says:

    Oh my, roast chicken basted with lard! Waaah! By the way, those large Magnolia chickens are everywhere now.

    Mar 25, 2011 | 6:27 pm

  19. mojito drinker says:

    yeah pork fat rules!

    Mar 25, 2011 | 6:41 pm

  20. Connie C says:

    So many things we don’t know about nutrition. Thanks for the info, MM. I do however have some concerns you may want to comment on. Since the animal meat is as good as what it eats, I wonder how much of the pig’s diet affect its flesh or fat content….antibiotics, pesticides, hormones in some feeds, etc.

    In the US, the move in good nutrition circles is to go with grazed grass fed beef, a preference for buffalo meat in fact, provided of course that the grazing field is not contaminated or laden with pesticides. And, as we know it already, free range organic chicken is the way to go.

    Lately, I have switched to coconut oil and some expensive fruit oils ( ex. avocado oil) for cooking in addition to virgin olive oil which we are warned should be in the cold pan and heated gradually as sudden high heat breaks down the oils that “de-virginates” the oil molecules. I suppose this holds true with rendering the animal fats as well in order not to disturb the fat molecules and reduce or tranform them to a more harmful carcinogenic chain….the reason we are warned not to eat a lot of fried or heavily seared meat fat as in barbecuing.

    So much of what we eat or told has commercial interest from what are we being fed by way of informercials and of course the big business is who eventually gets the upper hand.

    During my last holiday ‘Pins visit, I am encouraged by the growing popularity of small scale organic farms with rice, vegetable, poultry and meat produce, even small scale cattle raising grazed in whatever limited agricultural lands we have. With our population growth run amok, I hope the trend continues so we can feed our people until the Catholic Church hierarchy gets better sense that reproductive health ( birth control) is not a sin.

    I like to mention Ato Belen’s Farm in Brgy San Juan San Pablo City (049-562-1215) where I visited recently. Ka Ato shares his knowledge free to anyone interested. It is amazing what he can grow and raise in such a small area of land and where he grows high value fruit trees that are grown to bear fruits in half or less the time they normally do….this side by side with poultry ( chicken and ducks too!), piggery and the vermiculture that feeds his organic farm. It is amazing that nothing goes to waste and minimizes his carbon imprint. More power to people like him!

    Mar 25, 2011 | 6:53 pm

  21. Footloose says:

    As I said in a premature comment somewhere, nutritional legislations are usually end-results of industry lobbying, specially in North America. And recently I came across a Chef’s rant in the Atlantic Life Section that food trends are actually food suppliers efforts to move or unload unusually large quantities of certain ingredients they have in stock. So next time you find bacon in everything, be wary.

    But back to grease, Connie C, you can try California rice bran oil that boasts of even higher smoking point (if that’s your main concern) and even more over-all ratio of health-promoting components. This of course tallies with a long-held belief in my family than rice-bran extracts like Tiki-tiki restores all the B complex vitamins that have been polished away from the rice one eats from day to day. CAN$8 for a liter in Toronto.

    Another oil that shines with flavor (though twice as expensive) is La Tourangelle Roasted Almond Oil also from California. Chiffon cakes that now seem to have currency only with Asian bakers (or fossils like me) comes alive with it. Cheap chocolate chiffon that calls for any old cocoa takes off with new found aroma using it. Somebody should experiment with fresh toasted coconut oil. I bet its going to be even more astonishingly flavorful.

    Mar 25, 2011 | 7:48 pm

  22. Connie C says:

    Thanks for the info, Footloose. Will search for the California rice bran oil here in Maryland.

    Mar 25, 2011 | 8:21 pm

  23. Gerry says:

    Way back in the mid 80’s, McDonald’s used tallow to fry their fries (they also used Baguio potatoes I think). The fries weren’t as crispy but the flavors fantastic. I wish they would bring that back.

    Mar 25, 2011 | 8:30 pm

  24. millet says:

    “if you have to look up erudite” – HAHAHAHA! will be laughing over this the whole weekend! galing, MM!

    Mar 25, 2011 | 8:40 pm

  25. Artisan Chocolatier says:

    Confirms my belief to trust more something made by nature rather than something made in a laboratory. ;-)

    Mar 25, 2011 | 8:43 pm

  26. natie says:

    I guessed right, too. Lard makes great crusts also…wish I could still eat like the Teen…

    Mar 25, 2011 | 8:44 pm

  27. satomi says:

    Yup, Lard it is!! My grandmother (bless her soul) used pork lard in everything she cooked for us. MM, is it the same as when you render the pork belly fat?

    I found a website selling leaf lard here in the East Coast!! Great! https://protected.accountsupport.com/flyingpigs/orders.html

    Mar 25, 2011 | 9:53 pm

  28. lee says:

    Pork lard is pure bliss. I hope to find leaf lard in the market soon and render me some healthy grease. :)

    Mar 25, 2011 | 10:16 pm

  29. jenny says:

    can pork lard after it has been used to fry something be kept and reused?

    Mar 25, 2011 | 10:32 pm

  30. louinsanfran says:

    I’m a be saving bacon grease from here on. Even if only for single use after.

    Mar 25, 2011 | 11:25 pm

  31. monique ignacio says:

    Oh my lard indeed! The hubby will be so happy to know that lard can be good :-)

    Mar 26, 2011 | 12:02 am

  32. jdawgg says:

    Hey Marketman,

    Isn’t this somewhat an oxymoron. I thought you’re trying to cut down on cholesterol, also trying to get rid of some excess weight and here you are saving all the pork fat. I know per Emiril Lagasse’s qoute “PORK FAT RULES”, but this thing don’t make sense. Just throwing my tent cents in here for your health.

    Mar 26, 2011 | 12:13 am

  33. sister says:

    Flying Pig rendered lard is $5. per quarter lb. or $20. a lb. Pretty expensive pie crust. Crisco has been reformulated for “no trans fats” which previously made the crust crispy and extended shelf life so forget Crisco.Try 75% cold butter and 25% cold lard, works great for my pie crusts, and 80% all purpose flour and 20% cake flour to mimic pastry flour which is not readily available.
    4 c. all purpose flour plus 1 c. cake flour (not self rising) unsifted
    1 1/2 c. cold unsalted butter
    1/2 c. cold lard
    1 tbsp. fine salt
    9-10 tbsp. cold water
    Mix flours and salt in a large bowl.
    Cut in butter and lard until you have lumps like corn kernels.
    Sprinkle with cold water, tossing mixture with a fork or your fingers.
    Push into 4 equal shaggy balls, flatten into fat discs and refrigerate for at least 1 hr. before rolling out between 2 sheets of lightly floured wax paper into 11″ circles 3/16 thick.
    Makes 4 single crusts for 9″ pie pan or two double crusts, top and bottom.

    Mar 26, 2011 | 2:33 am

  34. peanut says:

    Yeey,voted for lard!

    Mar 26, 2011 | 2:55 am

  35. tonceq says:

    Lard be praised! Thought that i’ll probably miss the smell of butter as pastries or breads bake happily in the oven (funny how people tend to pass by the oven more when that scent is in the air) but Sister’s suggestion to get the best of both worlds by using butter and lard is exceptional! thanks Sister! love the last picture MM (with the pastries) was it also taken by the teen? :)

    Mar 26, 2011 | 2:58 am

  36. sister says:

    If you are making a savory pie like I did last night, chicken pot pie, you might want to use half butter and half lard for the crust. All butter is too tender and all lard too rich for my taste in the proportions given above.

    Mar 26, 2011 | 5:43 am

  37. chinky says:

    MM, where can you get good lard here in Metro Manila?

    Mar 26, 2011 | 8:22 am

  38. Marketman says:

    chinky, I haven’t seen it readily available in groceries or markets. For chicharon experiments weeks ago, we went to chicharon makers to buy their lard, a by-product of the chicharon… but it was often of a very inferior quality and dark in color, a sign of high heat and overcooking. So we decided to make the lard at home, to good results. But I would pay for it in groceries if it was available like butter and I could fully trust the source. Sister, pie crust coming up, it was half and half…

    Mar 26, 2011 | 9:41 am

  39. jack says:

    praise the lard! i got it correct yey :)

    Mar 26, 2011 | 9:54 am

  40. Gej says:

    I read somewhere that fat is very important for kids’ brain development. so I guess it’s not good if kids take on the same low-fat diet that their parents might be on.

    If doughnuts take you off your diet, good bread takes me off mine. Got some again yesterday, so there. I have to be on guard next time.

    Mar 26, 2011 | 10:14 am

  41. Gerry says:

    Just checked Amazon for commercially available lard and people are complaining that it contains both lard and hydrogenated lard. They should just list transfat content which is what hydrogenated oils contain.

    Mar 26, 2011 | 11:47 am

  42. Marketman says:

    Thank you footloose for editing the title… :)

    Mar 26, 2011 | 11:51 am

  43. Bijin says:

    I use to buy organic whatever oil…canola, sunflower, grapeseed, what have you. After researching on good fat I threw everything away and use only homemade lard, butter and organic coconut oil! Olive oil is used only if it’s unheated like in salads. However when I eat out I’m sure am ingesting food cooked in hydrogenated fat! sigh…

    Mar 26, 2011 | 5:10 pm

  44. kitchen says:

    Hahahha Oh my Lard! funny!

    Mar 26, 2011 | 5:31 pm

  45. Footloose says:

    One of the reasons lard aficionados prefer to use leaf fat when rendering is trimmings containing even a little bit of muscle or flesh tissue yields off-white or even darker lard.

    Mar 26, 2011 | 5:33 pm

  46. herrodadog says:

    marketman – your post is awesome and is very helpful since i love cooking filipino learning at an early age from my parents. i discovered your post serendipitously thru a search string on lemon grass for sinagang. the kicker was this latest post about the proponents of fat. amen and marameng salamat!

    Mar 26, 2011 | 11:55 pm

  47. farida says:

    Voted for lard ‘cuz I remembered you mentioned it in a previous post that lard is healthier.
    Will have to look for leaf lard here and try making my own lard for pie pastry. Thanks, Sister, for your recipe. It is a keeper for me. Summer is coming up and will be baking pies.
    will try the recipe for chicken pot pie.
    Hilarious about the erudite word. Did look it up and the word rude comes from the same Latin word too. Must be careful.

    Mar 27, 2011 | 7:29 am

  48. Nicole says:

    After reading this post, I want to give pork lard a try. Can I buy this in the wet market(palengke) or the supermarket?

    Mar 28, 2011 | 9:13 am

  49. Becky says:

    yey! i was in the 30% who answered lard. not that i just guessed.hehe it’s just fun to know my answer was right.
    and i will now look up the meaning of erudite. hehe

    Mar 28, 2011 | 9:35 am

  50. Marketman says:

    Nicole, I have not seen leaf lard for sale in local groceries or markets. You can sometimes find pork lard, but its often the byproduct of chicharon cooking, so not so creamy white and often with off-flavors…

    Mar 30, 2011 | 1:11 pm

  51. kathleen says:

    hi MM :) would like to ask where do you buy pork fat? :) i have the same concern with connie, regarding the diet of the pork? :) loving jennifer mclagan’s books too! :P

    Mar 30, 2011 | 4:23 pm

  52. Lillix says:

    Hi MM, I was researching on ways of making longganisa when I came across your post about leaf lard. Having grown up with the idea of pork lard as “evil” and something we should away from, your post has elicited a lot of oohs and aahs when I showed it to some friends of mine. Parang lightbulb moment…hehehe…

    Last week, my mother-in-law was able to buy several kilos of impilla & turned it into “pinakupsan.” As a result, she was able to set aside a few tubs of lard for future use. I do admit having berated our helper for using the lard to saute some vegetables, because yun nga, it has been ingrained in us that lard can cause cholesterol levels to skyrocket!

    Can you please suggest what’s a good & “healthy” cooking oil to use for everyday cooking? I love olive oil but the price is such a strain on a homemaker’s budget! Is leaf lard safe to use when it comes to sauteeing or frying?

    Would appreciate your input. Thanks!

    Sep 2, 2011 | 11:14 pm


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