Fats And Oils
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
Fats and oils form one of the most important food groups. Oils are fats that are liquid at ordinary temperatures; olive and other salad oils are examples.
Fats and oils are made up of three substances, some more solid than others. These are stearin, palmitin, and olein. If there is a large per cent of stearin the fat remains solid until heat is applied; tallow, the fat from beef or mutton, is an example. If the proportion of palmitin is great the fat is solid at ordinary temperatures. Butter is an example of this class of fats. If there is much olein the fat remains liquid unless the temperature is very low. By mixing fats which contain these ingredients in different proportions, compounds are made. In some cases the different substances in the fat may be separated by alternate heating, pressing, and cooling; in this way oleo oil, used in oleomargarine, is obtained from tallow. Cotton-seed oil is much used with tallow to make certain cooking fats.
In our climate both vegetable and animal fats are used. But-ter, lard, and tallow are from animals; olive oil, peanut oil, and cottonseed oil come from the vegetables.
Cooking Fats. Many fats are used for food and in its preparation. Butter and olive oil are used uncooked. For cooking purposes lard, compound lard, and oleomargarine are used. The recipes in this book call for lard and butter, but other fats may be substituted. Remember, however, that some fats contain a greater proportion of water than others, and are therefore poorer in fat. For example, according to the table of composition, lard is 100% fat; butter is 85% fat. If lard is used instead of butter, a smaller quantity is required. What fats do you use for pastries, frying, and seasoning?
Lard is made from the fat of the hog; leaf lard from the sheets of fat in the body cavity is the choicest.
Compound Lard is usually composed of lard stearin, beef stearin, and cottonseed oil; sometimes no lard is used.
Uncolored Oleomargarine is a cheap cooking fat. It contains from 20 to 25% oleo oil (oil from tallow), 40 to 45% lard, 10 to 25% butter, 5 to 30% milk, cream, salt, and other ingredients.
Renovated Butter is made by melting old and rancid butter, aerating it, and churning it with skim milk ; it is then salted and worked.
Cottonseed Oil is used to adulterate olive oil and as an ingredient in compound salad oils. Alone or combined with other fats, such as lard or tallow, it is used in various cooking fats that take the place of lard.
Olive Oil is a valuable food but it is often adulterated with cottonseed, peanut, and other oils; these oils may not be objectionable, but such adulterations defraud the purchaser. Buy a reliable brand and read the labels carefully.
Food Value. Fats are of great importance in the diet. A diet too low in fat may disturb nutrition, but too much fat may cause indigestion, so that in planning menus one must regulate the amount of fat. In cold weather more fat may be eaten than in warm weather. Why? (See Table.) What fats do you use for food? Remember that a rich gravy contains fat, hence if such a gravy is used little butter is needed. If bread is eaten with jam or other sweets the bread should be buttered unless an abundance of fat is eaten in some other form, since sweets do not take the place of fat in the body.
The Spoon Test. There are various tests for adulterants in fats; the spoon test is very simple. Test oleomargarine, renovated butter, and pure butter by this method. Put a little of the fat in a tablespoon, melt gradually, then increase the heat and bring to as brisk a boil as possible. After boiling has begun, stir the contents of the spoon thoroughly (not neglecting the outer edges) two or three times at intervals during boiling and shortly before the boiling ceases. Oleomargarine and renovated butter boil noisily, sputtering (more or less) like a mixture of grease and water, and produce little or no foam. Renovated butter usually ' produces a very small amount of foam. Oleomargarine has a meaty odor like that of cooked meat; one who is familiar with good butter can detect oleomargarine immediately. Genuine butter generally boils with less noise (unless it contains much water) and produces an abundance of foam.
What is the difference between oils and fats? Mention several oils and fats. Which ones are used by your family? Are they pure or compound? What fats and oils are in general use in this climate? Are they obtained from animals or vegetables? What is the price per pound of but-ter, lard, compound lard, and some of the cottonseed compounds? Of olive oil per pint? Of other salad oils? What does your pure food law say about olive oil? Is much artificial butter used in your community? Give the spoon test for butter. If a recipe calls for one cup of butter, and lard is substituted, how much of the latter will be required?
Of what use are fats and oils to the body? Tell what you can of the digestion of fat. Why is more fat needed in cold weather than in warm? Is ham a good hot weather food? Give reason for your answer. Why is food that is very rich in fat apt to be slow in digesting? Why is food that is covered with fat indigestible? Why is overheated fat objectionable?
The Care of Fats. Fats become rancid or decompose. This change goes on rapidly in a warm place. All fats should be kept as cold as possible and protected from the air. Rancid fats have undergone a chemical change and the products of this change are very irritating to the digestion. Much fat is thrown away that could be utilized ; if not used as food, soap may be made from it. Fats from stews and soups made of fresh beef, pork, or mutton may be used in cooking. When the soup or other liquid cools, lift off the fat with a skimmer, put it into a saucepan, heat it gently until it is quite hot and has ceased bubbling (it bubbles because of the water in it), and strain through a cheese-cloth into a clean bowl that can be closely covered.
Home Rendered Fats. Fats are prepared for use by being rendered ; that is, the fat is cooked gently until its connecting tissues shrink and the fat liquefies; it is then drained from the membranes, which are known as "cracklings."
Remove all flesh from the fat, wash it clean, cut in small pieces, and cover with cold water for several hours. Then drain off the water and add one cup of water to each two pounds of fat. Less water in proportion will be needed for a large quantity of fat. Cook over a low fire until the fat is clear and the membranes are a golden brown. Strain through a cheesecloth and press the membranes together in the cloth to remove all of the fat. This last fat will not be very clear. Cook mutton suet in a double boiler, using a cup of milk to each two pounds ; when the fat is extracted let it cool, remove the cake of fat, melt it over a low fire, and add from one-fifth to one-half of rendered lard ; strain into jars while hot.
Beef Fat. The fat from the flank and loins, particularly that of fat cows and heifers, has less stearin and is much softer than ordinary tallow. It is bought by many persons who do not use pork fat. In preparing it no lard is added.
Making Lard. Fat for lard must be kept in a cool, airy place. The fat from around the entrails spoils quickly. Wash it in soda water (one tablespoonful of soda to one quart of water) and cook it as soon as possible. Follow directions for home rendered fats. If lard is even slightly scorched the flavor is unpleasant. Render the leaf and other internal fat separate from the outside fat.
Bacon Fat. This may be used without further preparation for frying, for greasing pans, and for basting meat and fish; if from salt bacon, not smoked, it may be used for shortening. Fat from sausage may be used for frying such foods as have a flavor which will not be affected by it.