Some people wonder about the differences between hydrogenated lard and partially hydrogenated lard. Used in both prepackaged foods and in many restaurants around the world, these two examples of lard products continue to be utilized in the preparation of many time-honored recipes, despite the availability of products considered to be healthier for human consumption. While the basic substance of both types of lard is all the same, there are some key differences in the composition of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated versions.
Lard in all forms is simply pig fat. For centuries, lard was the cooking fat of choice for many different types of cuisine. In some instances, lard was also served and used as a topping for hot sections of bread, in a manner very similar to butter or margarine. During the 20th century, the use of lard began to decrease as scientific research uncovered the health risks associated with the consumption of saturated fats such as lard products. However, the rich flavor that lard often brings to a recipe continues to make it the cooking fat of choice for many people in different cultures.
Today, lard is usually made available as both partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated products. Both types of lard have been infused with hydrogen. The key difference has to do with the amount of hydrogen that is added to the pig fat. Depending on the amount of hydrogen that is introduced into the lard, the consistency and appearance of the lard will be impacted.
With partially hydrogenated lard, the pig fat only achieves a degree of firmness that provides a texture that is somewhat like whipped shortening. This makes the use of this type of lard in packaged foods a relatively easy process. For a number of years, there was some thought that since partially hydrogenated lard is less saturated, it was less of a health risk. Currently, many healthcare professionals think otherwise.
Hydrogenated lard contains more hydrogen and other chemicals, and often has an appearance that is solid. This type of lard is often sold in units that somewhat resemble a masonry brick, and are intended to be cut into sections in a manner similar to cutting a pat of butter. Hydrogenated lard is also used in processed foods, but is mainly utilized by chefs when preparing meals from scratch.