Last week, I began this part of the series on the subject of oil in TEOTWAWKI. I rejected the GMO oils, namely corn and canola oil, for health reasons. I spoke about my favorite oils– coconut and olive, for their many uses and health benefits, and I explained my inevitable problem with their inaccessibility or short supply. I also shared that we own a Piteba nut and seed oil expeller, which is designed to produce consumable oils from many types of seed, nut, and bean sources.
Health and Storage Issues With Lard
Now that you are caught up, let me address another type of oil that I have rejected but need to explain, because it may be your choice for oil. Years ago, I read an article (which I can no longer locate online) suggesting that there are some health benefits as well as flavor and texture reasons to cause a person to consider using lard (rendered pork fat) for cooking. This article somewhat shocked me, as I thought animal fats were well known to be taboo because of their health risks, but I read the article just the same to see what was said. I am willing to make changes when I receive information that convinces me to do so, even if this information goes against what I have heard growing up, such as thinking that solid, animals fats are unhealthy for our hearts and arteries. I dug into the facts a bit and tried to set aside the memories of how my mother would keep some rendered fat in the refrigerator for seasoning beans but use it meagerly, especially after my father’s health conditions became a concern for our family. Lard, of course, has plenty of fats, fatty acids, and cholesterol, but it also has a small amount of Vitamin D, Zinc, Selenium, and something called Choline, which is a mineral that plays a role in the B-Vitamin complex and is important for cell health. I initially wondered if this article had a valid point about lard being “healthier” than I thought. I recognized that there were some benefits to saturated fats and that the hydrogenated polyunsaturated fats that have been marketed as healthy actually are not. However, not all saturated fats are alike. Lard has omega fats, which I knew about, recognize need to be in balance, and can source through other plants/oils. Lard also had this choline stuff, which was new to me. I discovered that though our bodies naturally synthesize choline, many people find their bodies require additional intake of this mineral, especially postmenopausal women, pregnant and nursing women, as well as some aging men and women, too. In a published medical paper on choline by Dr. Steven Zeisel, M.D. states that the adequate intake (AI) for women over 19 is 425mg and for men over 19 is 550mg. One cup of lard has approximately 102mg of choline and beef fat (tallow) has approximately 164mg, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database information. However, just one slice of pan-fried beef liver provides a whopping 338mg of choline, one cup of roasted chicken breast meat provides 119 mg, a cup of 2% milk has 40mg, a cup of cauliflower and a cup of cooked black beans each have 60mg of choline, and even a 1.63-ounce bag of peanut M&Ms has 17mg. Choline is in many things. In addition to the vitamins and minerals I discovered are in lard, tallow also had Vitamin E, but it had a higher level of cholesterol than lard. I knew that not all cholesterol is bad, yet I still was not convinced it was the best way for us to cook. I have grown plants/seeds that contain these same vitamins and minerals with what I believe to be less risk to our heart and arteries.
Biblical Issues With Lard
Even more significant than the health factors associated with lard is the fact that in our home we do not consider pork products to be “food”. Because our God– the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob– says that pork is not considered food for His people (in Leviticus 11 and Deteronomy 14), our family does not consume any kind of pork or pork byproduct. I know that many people eat things that the LORD says are unclean (not food) for His people, and they choose to do so. There are people who eat roaches, rats, cats, horses, and dogs, but we don’t choose to eat these things or any of the things the LORD God says are unclean. You probably don’t eat the things I listed above either, yet I don’t have the authority to tell anyone else what they can or cannot eat. That’s between each person and God. I didn’t make this earth and all that is within it, so I don’t make the rules. I recognize that God made all things, and He did not make all things for people to consume. Some things are for the consumption of plants and animals, according to their position in the food chain, which differs from mankind’s. Our God has an order to things, and I choose to respect it. I love horses, but I don’t eat them. My extended family and I have had many kinds of pets, including pet pigs, but we didn’t put them on the barbecue. I acknowledge that others eat what they choose. Some will argue that we can eat anything. They may even cite Peter’s dream with the sheet coming down with unclean food on it, but if they will read this in context, they may realize this vision was to show Peter that he needed to accept “unclean” people, specifically the Roman named Cornelius, with whom he would normally refuse to dine or enter his home. Peter’s willingness and obedience to go to Cornelius’ home, accepting his invitation to stay with him, was very significant. The obedience of these men to go outside what was familiar to them paved the way for expanded knowledge of Jesus and the redemptive story to be spread to the Gentiles. The vision was not about food but something much greater. None of us is clean without the forgiveness and mercy of our Lord and Savior! For me though, eating what my LORD instructs is about obedience, and as a follower of Jesus I want to do what my perfect Messiah did. He didn’t eat pork or lard, so it is not an option for me to eat it either. I will choose to honor him by keeping my table “clean”, where He could comfortably dine with me and also to teach me to adjust my tastes for His tables, which I am sure will not have any pork products. His Father and He are one, and they clearly said not to eat of it, so I will not intentionally disobey my Master. Therefore, lard is not an option!
We can eat beef, venison, and mutton, and so tallow (rendered fat) from these animals might be an option, but it would be low on the list of oil preferences for health reasons. In TEOTWAWKI, we will need added calories, but we will still want our arteries, heart, and brain to function optimally. My family members who most enjoyed eating highly fatty meats are the very ones who struggled with heart conditions, clogged arteries, and alzheimer-type symptoms. This is circumstantial evidence, I know, but it supports what my doctors tells me too. I won’t say that I would not ever consider using venison, mutton or possibly beef suet for an oil option, but my preferred options will remain vegetable oil. Some pastries will require either tallow or butter, but one factor that concerns me regarding animal-based fats is the requirement for refrigeration. I don’t want to be required to refrigerate or freeze my oils, and animals fats are usually produced in bulk and then require refrigeration for storage beyond a month. Tallow is a good thing to render for many homestead purposes other than for cooking, so we need to know how to do it. It is easy!
To make tallow, cut all the meat and blood out of the fat/suet. Then, finely chopped or cut it into small cubes (less than one inch in size) and put it in a crock pot on low or in a heavy pan on the stove over a very low heat to slowly raise the suet temperature to 180-200 degrees and then simmer it for about six to eight hours until the moisture has evaporated and the impurities separated. The solid impurities, called crackle, will form and may rise to the surface. After the simmering time is complete, put on protective gloves, as the rendered fat will be very hot and can cause serious burns. Carefully, strain the rendered fat through cheesecloth in a colander. It is important to remove all of the crackle solids, no matter how small, so it is a good idea to run it through cheesecloth a second time or even to pour the hot rendered oil through a coffee filter, switching out the coffee filter if it gets clogged with solids. Once all of the solids are removed, pour the hot tallow into a clean, dry storage jar and keep it in a cool, dark place for up to a month or in the refrigerator for up to six months.
Hand-pressed Vegetable Oils
Vegetable oils are the healthiest options, and the Piteba expeller will be the means by which I process my vegetable oil– my main oil in TEOTWAWKI. Let’s look at vegetable oil production.
The Piteba site provides valuable information, including information on obtaining oil from each type of vegetable product. For example, it indicates an extraction efficiency rate for each seed/bean/nut type that range from the soya bean at only 67% to pistachio nuts at 87% efficiency. Their website also provides the estimated ounces of oil per pound of raw seed/bean/nut used. Obviously, to make any quantity of oil, many pounds of the seed, bean, or nut are required. While some of these seeds and nuts could be stored long term, waiting to be pressed into oil, we would still end up with an exhausted supply eventually. I am looking for a renewable, long-term source in the event that other oils are not produced and/or made available in my area after TEOTWAWKI occurs. Whatever raw material I use to make oil, I need to be able to grow it on our property or obtain it locally. It’s our preference to have control of the supply by growing it ourselves.