IN MOST COMMERCIAL (AND MANY HOME) KITCHENS, LARD IS A MAINSTAY. As the oldest and largest producer of animal fat shortenings in the Western U.S., we at Coast Packing certainly know lard — and there’s a good chance that you know us and VIVA, our very best lard.
VIVA is an all-purpose lard carefully processed to impart a traditional, authentic flavor to popular ethnic foods, particularly in Hispanic cooking. VIVA is, in fact, the preferred brand of lard in restaurant kitchens for more than 35 years — it’s trans fat-free and known for its quality, consistency and performance. For the best tasting carnitas, chicharrones, tamales, tortillas and tortilla chips, and more, VIVA is the standard.
But there’s more to Coast than VIVA lard — and there’s a far better alternative to vegetable oils like soybean and canola when the occasion calls for deep frying.
WHAT IS BEEF TALLOW?
As it’s often said, beef tallow is to beef what lard is to pork. And nothing is better — or tastes better — for heavy duty frying.
The natural makeup of beef tallow promotes health. Beef tallow does not contain the artificial trans fats found in hydrogenated shortenings. It’s naturally stable and solid at room temperature. When heated, it does not release free radicals, which have been linked to cancer, as vegetable oils do. It’s minimally processed — virtually nothing is added, there are no harmful chemical byproducts released as a result of processing, and what’s already there (plenty of monounsaturates) is good for you. Aside from the unbeatable flavor, animal fats provide optimum nutrition for healthy growth and reproduction, and they help the body absorb important nutrients.
Historically, beef tallow was used for heavy duty frying in fast food restaurants (think McDonalds and Carl’s Jr.) because it remained stable under high heat conditions and imparted a pleasing flavor. In the 1990s when the vegetable oil industry gained power
and propagandized the (supposed) benefits of polyunsaturated fats the switch was made.
What about soybean, canola and the other vegetable oils and fats? It’s a simple fact that
vegetable oils are highly refined, a process that enlists chemicals to extract the oil from the seed. The system used to refine vegetable oils also produces “process contaminants.” These substances form during food processing — in particular, when refining vegetable oils at high temperatures.
Last May, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) — which is responsible for conducting risk analysis on the safety of food in the European Union — released its findings concerning the risks to public health from intake of process contaminants called glycidyl fatty acid esters (GE), 3- monochloropropanediol (3-MCPD), and 2- monochloropropanediol (2-MCPD) esters. The EFSA found “sufficient evidence” that glycidol is genotoxic and carcinogenic. The highest levels of GE, as well as 3-MCPD and 2-MCPD, were found in palm oils and palm fats, followed by other oils and fats. Intake in children under 18 — and particularly infants — was characterized as a potential health concern.
The science is increasingly clear: with toxic additives and carcinogenic compounds putting
popular vegetable oils at risk, embracing “minimally processed” animal fats isn’t a fad. Given the unsavory alternative, “minimally processed” needs to be how we cook.
Beef tallow really is the antidote to highly processed vegetable oils. When contrasted with
vegetable shortenings, beef tallow delivers low absorption in fried foods, reduced foaming, a high smoke point and longer fry life. And you can feel good about cooking with beef tallow: health benefits include actually raising levels of good cholesterol, and its health-promoting natural trans fats stand in stark contrast to the dangers of (soon to be phased
out) artificial trans fats.
In sum, beef tallow belongs in any kitchen where heavy duty frying — and customer satisfaction — matters.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Eric R. Gustafson
Eric R. Gustafson is CEO of Coast Packing Company in Vernon, Calif., the number one
supplier of animal fat shortenings. www.coastpacking.com