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The other day, I responded to a comment on a conservative American website with regard to diet.

The context was in regard to the reform of Obamacare in the Trump administration. The initial comment referred to Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisconsin) possible approval of a health auditor, a stranger, to visit someone’s house to assess a family’s lifestyle prior to their obtaining health insurance. Apparently, this is one health insurance idea that has been discussed before.

Ryan’s father died at an unexpectedly early age from heart disease. Consequently, Ryan focussed on diet and exercise to ensure he himself didn’t end up that way. It is thought that he also might well consider that a stranger going into someone’s home to assess their lifestyle — perhaps to check cupboards for snacks or alcohol and sniff walls for evidence of smoking — is entirely acceptable.

That is every bit as frightening as the Vault 7 Year Zero CIA document dump by WikiLeaks on March 7.

There are two things here.

The first is that, as a legislator, Paul Ryan will never have to be part of Obamacare or Trumpcare. He and his colleagues get a traditional health insurance plan.

The next thing is obesity, which Paul Ryan — a thin man — desperately opposes.

As I told the person on this particular conservative website, this notion of a healthcare audit is a plan for the ‘little people’. (They, in Ryan’s estimation, do not understand what their betters do. This, by the way, is Ryan’s ‘magnificent home’ in Janesville, Wisconsin. It has an extensive border fence around it.)

I further commented (same link):

To counter Ryan’s dictating to Americans on their health: my father also died of heart disease at an early age. So did his father, whom I never met. So have some of my friends in the present day. That doesn’t give the right to go around snooping in people’s homes as a precursor to getting health insurance!

Then, I discussed obesity:

Re obesity: severely limit or stop eating starch and sugar, eat more fat (including animal fat) and less protein. Watch the pounds roll off. It’s called the ketogenic diet, which is a permanent eating plan, not a fad diet. I’ve been on it for three years. I lost weight and stabilised. Cholesterol and triglycerides go down with keto.

As we know, there is a particular association between Americans and obesity. It is unclear whether this can be connected with the increase of obesity in other Western countries, because who knows how much corn syrup — rather than sugar — is in their food? Emphases mine below, not in the original comment:

Someone on here was talking about corn. It’s all the corn syrup used in place of sugar which also leads to obesity. Sugar makes you feel more sated than corn syrup. We owe the proliferation of corn syrup to the Nixon administration in the 1970s. Corn farmers, IIRC, had a glut of crop then, so were bailed out with companies producing corn syrup for commercial cake, cookie and candy manufacturers.

Note when obesity started to climb: the late 1970s to early 1980s. It was no big deal at the time. Most people attributed it to Americans giving up smoking. Although that was a factor, I would posit that the increase of sweet snacks and cakes made with corn syrup were a greater contributor — and continue to be today.

Yes, I know I should have said ‘was’ instead of ‘were’ in the last sentence, but only caught it now.

Regardless, that message got through. My sincere thanks to the moderators. I didn’t think anything of it until later. Now read on.

The commenter, with whom I was corresponding, replied:

Salty snacks like crackers and chips also contribute, along with soft drinks and the rest of our favorites (fast food, etc). Eat at home family meals with vegetables and salads have diminished with women working, divorces, unwed mothers with no Dad in the home, increase of addictions, etc.

I’m not in favor of a one-food group diet (animal fat/low carb) diet. Whole grains and vegetables/fruit contain important phytonutrients. Did you know heart attacks diminished in Britain, in WWII, despite the stress of the bombings, when sugar was rationed?

So, appreciating this reply, but differing because of my keto experience — and that of thousands of others — wrote back.

I retyped my reply twice. Both immediately went into spam. A subsequent message, on a different topic, went through, by the way.

The text below is similar to what was spammed. Once again, emphases mine below, not in the original comment. For the overweight:

All starch — whether salty or sweet, from carbohydrate to sugar — should be sharply curtailed or eliminated.

It should be noted that the ketogenic diet — a way of eating and not a fad diet — is not a one-food group diet. It works with a proportion (depending on the individual) of 50% fat, 35% protein and 15% carbohydrate per day. Vegetables should provide most of the 15% carbohydrate. The more you weigh, the more you lose.

Starch comprises bread, cereal, cakes, oatmeal, salty snacks (etc.). Sugars, including those in fruit, are also starches.

Corn syrup has replaced sugar in most sweet snacks. Corn syrup is less satisfying than pure sugar. Americans are eating more corn syrup in cakes, cookies and candies. Therefore, they are getting fatter because the corn syrup is less satisfying.

Eating more fat — including fat from cheese, eggs and dairy products, especially butter — will be more satisfying than eating starches or sugar.

I agree very much with your point on ready-made meals, however, another problem is that Americans — along with many other Westerners — eat five times a day.

I take your point that, during the Second World War, Britons got their nutrients from whole grain bread. However, they needed all the sustenance they could receive. They also had no central heating. They had to walk or ride bicycles to and from work. Rationing in the UK did not end until 1954.

Westerners live an entirely different lifestyle in the 21st century. They eat too many carbohydrates, including sugars — especially corn syrup products, which leave them less full than sugar would. They have heated homes and offices. They drive nearly everywhere.

Low fat foods are another problem. For a decent flavour profile, low fat needs to be offset with high sugar content, most often corn syrup.

My message must have had wording or syntax that instantly caused it to end up in spam — twice.

There is a political point about corn syrup that I want to make concerning the law of unintended consequences. No one could foresee in the Nixon administration that corn syrup would result in a national weight problem.

I know from experience. In the early 1960s, when I was five years old, I was a guest of a young friend at her house for Saturday dinner — pancake night. My mother always bought maple-flavoured syrup made with sugar. This family always bought corn syrup. I still remember eating a plateful of pancakes with syrup and feeling hungry before I went to bed that night. The hosts even told my parents that I had an incredible appetite for such a little tyke. Yet, that was the only time I was ever hungry after eating twice as many pancakes as I would have done at home. The only difference was the type of syrup.


If Americans were still eating sweets of any kind made with sugar, they would be of normal weight.

Corn syrup is making people fat. So are other starches. Anyone who wants to lose weight should try a low-carb high-fat — LCHF — eating plan.

For more information on the ketogenic diet, please read the following. If you are in any doubt or under regular care of a physician, seek medical advice first:

Does low animal fat intake increase hostility or depression? (a hypothesis)

Fat and a balanced mind (low-fat diets can imbalance serotonin and nerves)

Depression and anxiety: the perils of a low-fat, high-carb diet

High carbohydrate intake and depression

Depression and cancer: more evidence against a low-fat diet

High carbohydrate intake and depression (also epilepsy related [Dr Richard A Kunin’s paper])

High-carb, low-fat diets might cause Western diseases (cancer related)

Low-carb diet a migraine remedy

Low-carb, high-fat diets regulate testosterone, cholesterol levels

Ketogenic diet and gout risk — tips for success

Resources for the ketogenic diet

Low carb high fat diet primer

Dietary advice: the old ways are the best (my own story on the ketogenic diet)

High carb, low fat diets bad for brain health — and moods? (more testimonials for the ketogenic diet)

Whilst I cannot guarantee that my original correspondent on the conservative website will see this, I hope that others might find this of interest.


One of my late grandmothers-in-law was a Londoner, born and bred.

One of her maxims was ‘the old ways are the best’.

Although she went to her rest several years ago, I often think of that saying every time new health advice makes the headlines.

In April 2014, I took a leap of faith and embarked on a high fat, moderate protein and low carbohydrate — ketogenic — diet. I did so because I wondered if I could find a way of eating that would produce not only weight loss but also extended health benefits.

My regular readers might remember some of the following posts. However, new subscribers can find them on my Recipes / Health / History page.

Resources on the ketogenic diet — originally used when treating epileptics nearly a century ago — include the following posts. If you are looking for a mood regulator or something which is anti-cancer, anti-migraine and lowers blood pressure as well as cholesterol, these might be of interest:

Does low animal fat intake increase hostility or depression? (a hypothesis)

Fat and a balanced mind (low-fat diets can imbalance serotonin and nerves)

Depression and anxiety: the perils of a low-fat, high-carb diet

High carbohydrate intake and depression

Depression and cancer: more evidence against a low-fat diet

High carbohydrate intake and depression (also epilepsy related [Dr Richard A Kunin’s paper])

High-carb, low-fat diets might cause Western diseases (cancer related)

Low-carb diet a migraine remedy

Low-carb, high-fat diets regulate testosterone, cholesterol levels

Ketogenic diet and gout risk — tips for success

Resources for the ketogenic diet

I had a serious family matter to deal with not long after I embarked on the ketogenic diet. Thank goodness, because it gave me the energy and alertness to accomplish what needed to be done.

I also lost several pounds eating more animal and Omega-3 fats. My vegetable consumption has soared. I haven’t had processed carbohydrates since August.

As I am of a normal weight seeking to get to the lower end of normal, my macronutrient percentages of fat v protein v carb) are approximately 55% fat, 40% protein and 5% vegetable carbohydrate. Butter, meat fat and cream feature daily.

I only wish I’d known about this diet when I was a youngster. It would have helped me from adolescence through adulthood. I am convinced that consuming refined carbohydrates has contributed to a greater sense of calm.

It is difficult to change eating habits and general dietary outlook. We think we are doing the right thing by following government guidelines but maybe we would do better going back to the old ways which, often, are the best. My grandmothers did not eat many refined carbs — bread, biscuits, or cakes. They had a few chocolate candies only at Christmas or on special occasions. All of those were treats. They also did not snack during the day.

Anyone who is on a low carb high fat — LCHF — eating plan and feels great will have a difficult time convincing others of its benefits, satiety and safety. As one of my friends told me, ‘I don’t know. This goes against everything I’ve been teaching my children about food.’

For over 30 years, we have been told that we need refined carbohydrates. Yet, because of the way our bodies process insulin, a lot of those carbs turn into fat. Hence, our obesity and diabetes ‘epidemics’. Probably the only people who actually need carbohydrate are those on subsistence diets in the Third World. That eliminates vast swathes of Westerners.

Take a look at the ‘healthy’ aisle of your supermarket. Most of the foods there are some sort of carbohydrate. Cooking shows are full of carb-laden foods — often prepared with low-fat yoghurt or vegetable oil. School and hospital canteen menus are full of refined carbs and sugars.

I am convinced that, because the LCHF way of eating begins working relatively quickly on the body, more people would find it a better pathway to an even disposition and better health than pills, potions or the food group charts. That goes for children, especially excitable ones, as well as adults.

In closing, here are three more related posts worth reading:

Bad science: obesity, cholesterol, statistics and statins (Dr David Diamond returns to meat and good health)

Does low animal fat intake increase hostility or depression? (a hypothesis)

Fat and a balanced mind (low-fat diets can imbalance serotonin and nerves)

If you’ve tried an LCHF way of eating, I’d be interested to read about your experience in the comments below. Thank you in advance.

Early in our marriage, my better half who is English got me started on an old family tradition of his: the fat bowl.

As traditional roast potatoes are a staple in England, one needs high quality animal fat in order to guarantee a crispy, unctuous result.

We have maintained a large fat bowl in the refrigerator for over 20 years. When the post-Christmas goose fat runs out, we start roasting ducks and use their rendered fat. Over the past few years, I have begun rendering nearly any and all animal fat.

I have been following a low carb high fat (LCHF) way of eating — the ketogenic diet — since late April. I have never felt better or more satisfied after a meal.

Incidentally, The Goose Fat Information Service (based in Oxford) has statistics on not only goose but also other animal fats.

If you are following LCHF, whether fully ketogenic or not, what follow are my suggestions for creating a fat bowl.

You will need a decent sized Pyrex mixing bowl for goose fat. For other fats, which render a lesser amount, use a smaller bowl and a clean glass jar (e.g. mayonnaise) with a lid.

And do remember the oven gloves — along with sobriety! Rendered fat is dangerously hot.

Goose fat

A turkey baster is essential for siphoning goose fat from the roasting pan. If you’re planning on having goose for Christmas and don’t have one, buy a baster beforehand.

You will also need a rack sitting on top of your roasting tin so that the fat can drain freely.

While it’s roasting, the goose needs to be taken out of the oven every half hour so that excess fat can be drained. This can be difficult to do single-handedly, so ask another responsible adult to help, if necessary.

Before removing the roasting pan from the oven, place a large wooden cutting board on the floor, right in front of the oven.

Carefully take the roasting tin out of the oven and place it on the board. Have the turkey baster and a large Pyrex bowl nearby. Use the baster to siphon the fat and release it into the bowl.

When the goose is done, remove it to a carving tray and drain the rest of the fat from the roasting tin into the bowl.

Put the bowl on a trivet or small chopping board, because it will be very hot.

Leave the bowl on the countertop for a few days, even a week. It ends up being more solid than goose fat put in the refrigerator within 24 hours.

It is the best fat for roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding.

Duck fat

Over the past few years, there has been a significant reduction in fat on English ducks.

I used to be able to get a small Pyrex bowl of fat from one duck, now I barely get a quarter of a cup.

Many home cooks might not realise that a duck is likely to contain two less obvious portions of fat. These are just inside the cavity, one on either side.

Gently pry these fat pockets loose with your fingers and put them in a small saucepan. Put the pan on medium-low heat to render. This takes about 45 minutes to an hour. Turn the two fat bits over halfway through to ensure thorough rendering. Take care that the fat does not splatter; if it does, turn the heat down to low.

When the fat has rendered, turn the heat off and let the pan cool well before pouring the fat into a 100g (3.5 oz) jar.

Before roasting, place the duck on a rack to sit on the roasting pan, as with goose. When the duck is done, remove it to a carving tray and drain the fat into a small bowl before adding it to the jar. It could well cause the jar to crack if it is too hot.

Leave the fat to cool overnight, then put the lid on the jar and refrigerate.

This is excellent for roasting potatoes and for Yorkshire pudding.

Pork fat – lard and crackling

These days it’s hard to find a good joint of pork with a rim of fat that is 2 cm (1″) thick. (N.B.: The following applies only to fresh pork, not ham.)

However, in order to make decent crackling, you’ll need that amount of fat.

Crackling is a British tradition, one which turns roast pork into a delicacy.

The only recipe that works for me is Gary Rhodes‘s. He had his own television series in the 1990s which I watched often. It’s time the BBC reran it. (Rhodes, incidentally, began cooking as a teenager when his mother was at work and his siblings were little. He’d get home from school and prepare dinner from scratch. It was something he volunteered to do.)

Rhodes carefully cut off nearly all the fat in one piece — this takes a while to do at home — and generously salted both sides before placing it in a separate (and smaller) roasting tin.

While the joint (with a thin rim of fat) was cooking in the main roasting pan, he put the crackling pan on another shelf to render. Both finished at the same time, although, while the meat is resting, the crackling can continue to render quite comfortably in the oven.

Drain any excess fat from the crackling tin into a small bowl to cool on a trivet before putting in a 100g (3.5 oz) glass jar. Break the cooled crackling into smaller irregular slices or pieces then serve alongside the meat. Delicious!

You can wrap any leftover crackling in aluminium foil and reheat uncovered in the oven at 150° C (300° F) for 10 minutes the next day.

Leave the drained pork fat on the countertop overnight, put a lid on the jar and refrigerate. The solidified product is lard.

Homemade lard is much tastier and better performing than the commercial product. Therefore, if you can render your own pork fat, it’s well worth it, especially for pan fried breaded fish and vegetables and homemade roasted oven chips (fries).

Beef dripping

As with duck and pork, finding a fatty joint of beef is becoming more difficult. There used to be a nice clump of fat sitting along the rib bones which I used to render.

A butcher might be able to supply a bag of fatty offcuts. These lumps of fat can render nicely in a small saucepan (see Duck fat, above).

That said, the average joint of beef can still provide a small quantity — several tablespoons — of beef dripping which you can use for homemade chips, roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding.

As with the other aforementioned fats, let this cool overnight before putting the lid on the jar and refrigerating.

Beef fat has a tendency to smoke when rendering and roasting. Place a dash or two of salt on it to prevent this from happening.

Chicken fat (schmaltz) and skin

After roasting a chicken, I pour the few spoonsful of rendered fat in a very small pudding bowl or jar and refrigerate it to use later when sautéeing vegetables.

Although I have been flattening out the skin and reheating it the next day uncovered in the oven (150° C (300° F) for 10 minutes) for a while, it is gratifying to see that professional chefs around the UK and the US are popularising this reuse of a tasty ingredient.

The crispy chicken skin can top or be propped up against a serving of meat or vegetables. It really is a melt-in-the-mouth delight.

Use fat only once — and sparingly

Rendered fat should be used only once for cooking then discarded. Otherwise, it can oxidise and eventually become carcinogenic. Therefore, even if it still looks clear, why jeopardise health and encourage the aging process by reusing it again and again?

I did see one fat bowl years ago which was actually a brownish black. New fat was added to old and the whole thing reused so many times it must have been a health hazard. Ugh!

The other bit of advice is to not use too much. An excess of fat can clog drains. Therefore, less is more:

Roast potatoes / oven chips: 1 level tbsp for a small quantity, 2 level tbsp for a large quantity.

Yorkshire pudding: 1 tbsp for one large one; if using a muffin tin, put 1/3 teaspoon in each section.

Sauteeing vegetables or browning meat: no more than 2 tbsp, generally 1 tbsp suffices.

The bits at the bottom

The bits at the bottom of the fat bowl or jar generally have too much meat juice to be used for frying or roasting.

However, their fattiness and flavour are perfect for sauteeing vegetables or browning meat.

Rendering and using animal fat is making use of as much of the animal as possible.

I hope that many more home cooks will discover the joys and glories of the fat bowl along with LCHF/ketogenic ways of eating!

© Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist, 2009-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Churchmouse and Churchmouse Campanologist with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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