Actually … Ricki commented on Fats for Cooking and Fats to Eat Uncooked a few days ago, but I thought it was such an insightful and good question that I wanted to give it greater visibility.
Q: Thanks for the great info re: cooking fats and oils. Just wondering about the source of the info, as I was taught that all animal fats are primarily saturated.
A: Animal fats, like vegetable fats, contain the full spectrum of fats including saturated fats, mono- and polyunsaturated fats; however, lard and poultry fat contain higher amounts of monounsaturated fats than saturated fats so are primarily monounsaturated fats. This info is sourced from NutritionData.com.
For example, lard is approximately 45% monounsaturated fat, 39% saturated fat and 16% polyunsaturated fat. Goose fat is 57% monounsaturated, 27% saturated and 16% polyunsaturated. So their highest proportion of fat is monounsaturated. By contrast beef tallow is 50% saturated, 43% monounsaturated and 7% polyunsaturated so it’s classified differently.
A number of animal fats are primarily composed of saturated fat; however, the same holds true for plant-based fats as well. Of course, despite current recommendations, saturated fats are not to be avoided in their entirety; rather, they convey significant health benefits. Lauric acid for example can boost the immune system, and stearic acid is known to lower cholesterol levels.
Q: How does lactic acid fermentation preserve food?
A: Lactic acid fermentation has been used for millenia to preserve all sorts of food including milk in the form of yogurt and kefir, sauerkraut in the case of cabbage, sauerrÃ¼ben in the case of turnips. And this traditional method of food preservation has been used without any marked adverse side effects for thousands of years; rather, these foods seem to benefit our health and assist with proper immune system function.
The actual mechanisms behind why lactic acid fermentation works to preserve food are interesting. In fermentation, natural beneficial bacteria metabolize the natural sugars and other compounds in food and produce lactic acid as a byproduct of that metabolic process. This lactic acid then, in turn, creates an acidic environment. That’s why milk is sweet, but yogurt is sour and why real, lacto-fermented sauerkraut can make you pucker your mouth. The environment created by the lactic acid producing bacteria is too acidic for other bacteria – particularly pathogenic bacteria – to proliferate. Since pathogenic and other bacteria that could cause spoilage cannot proliferate in the now acidic environment, the food is naturally preserved.
Interestingly, food reasearchers are examining ways to capture antimicrobial metabolites created by lactic-acif producing bacterial for use as food preservatives. I think, however, that you should just eat real food. Read this post for more information on the benefits of lactic acid fermentation.
Do you have a question about traditional foods, growing your local foodshed or health and wellness? Please contact me.
Photo Credit: Bacillus subtilis (natto) by Kung-Ta Lee