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  1. #1
    liminal_luke's Avatar
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    Choosing a cooking fat.

    Primal Fuel
    Diane Sanfilippo, of balancedbites.com and now practical paleo fame, has a chart on her website where she ranks the relative safety of various cooking fats. Coconut oil and tallow win the top two slots followed by butter, lard, and then olive oil.

    I've been cooking mostly with olive oil but I'm thinking of switching it out for butter or lard based on her recommendation. I'm in Mexico so lard is easy to get and cheap but I doubt it's pasture raised. Ditto for butter--the pasture raised stuff I can get at the organic grocery store is exorbitantly priced.

    What do you think? Should I keep the olive oil for salads only and switch my cooking oil out to non-ideal forms of butter and/or lard? I can get coconut oil and do use it occasionally but it's also expensive as an everyday oil. Thanks!

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    Urban Forager's Avatar
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    We've been cooking mainly with tallow which we rendered when we bought half a cow. You may be able to buy fat from a butcher or directly from a rancher and render it yourself. I would think most small time ranchers would pasture raise their cows. It wouldn't be certified but that's typically how they are raised on small operations.

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    I have an abusive relationship with my coconut oil.

    Fried eggs or an omlete with that deliciously coconutty flavor... *drools*

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    Carnitas.... pork cooked in pork fat... it doesn't get much better than that. With fresh guacamole of course!
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    You can likely just buy grass-fed suet from local ranchers and make you own. Call around. It's worth the effort. Tallow is my favorite by far.


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    oxide's Avatar
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    Olive oil isn't ideal for cooking because it decomposes at a low temperature.

    For beef, I use coconut oil.
    For vegetables, I use butter.
    For chicken, I usually make soup, so I don't use any fat.
    For salad, I use only lemon juice. I don't like oily leaves.
    About the only time I use olive oil is for tapenades and tomato + basil salads.
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    Do they do CAFO agriculture in Mexico? Do they do it for export or do they do it for your own supply chain? It may be that you don't have to seek out "grass-fed" or "pastured" or whatever the terminology would be for you if they don't even do feedlot/confinement feeding in your supply chain.
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    2ndChance's Avatar
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    You can't get your hands on some coconut oil? I use it for everything... I'd use organic butter if I could find some around me, but for now, the coconut oil is a lifesaver. Tasty, filling... mmm.

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    Quote Originally Posted by oxide View Post
    Olive oil isn't ideal for cooking because it decomposes at a low temperature.
    This is not even remotely true.

    Olive oil stability under deep-frying cond... [Food Chem Toxicol. 2010] - PubMed - NCBI

    It took commercial olive oil 24-27 hours of being subjected to deep frying temperatures before it degraded significantly. Premium quality extra virgin olive oil is going to hold up even better. Considering your average cooking time with be 15 minutes, and you probably won't be heating to deep frying temperatures much, your olive oil will hold up just fine with no issue.

    I would rather cook with extra virgin olive oil than lard. Why? Lard has to be heated to extract the oil. Cooking with lard means you're cooking with fat that's been heated to significant temperatures. Olive oil is fresh - you aren't cooking with used oil. Plus, as an Italian, it's no surprise olive oil's flavor is my favorite.

    If good quality extra virgin olive oil is the least expensive and most readily available cooking fat for you, you will be fine. Just make sure you fridge-test the olive oil to make sure it isn't black market and maintains the proper fatty acid profile. Put a fresh bottle in the fridge overnight at around 39-40*F. It should mostly solidify. If it stay perfectly liquid at that temperature, it's likely cut with cheap seed oils. Black market olive oil is pretty common.
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    Lard is great for frying at higher temperatures. I haven't gotten into the world of tallow just yet though I'd like to. I only use olive oil for salads mainly, or to make pesto or to drizzle in my soups. I love chicken fat and duck fat..... I've been known to trim off gratuidous chunks of fat off of meat to freeze and then use to melt down in my frying pans etc. I never throw away my bacon drippings! But yeah, I think for the most part natural lard is a good way to go!

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