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A 73-meter long suet sandwich, a 420 kg and 6.45 m in diameter football made of suet, suet-devouring contests, “The Cutest Snout” pig beauty pageant, chocolate covered suet and the only USSR pig farming institute on the outskirts of Poltava: this is not the full list of ways in which Ukrainians express their love for their country’s #1 national delicacy
For a long time suet has not just been the number one food product for Ukrainians, but a staple and even culinary symbol of the country. Ukrainians salt, smoke, bake, boil and fry suet, add it to the first and second courses and use it to make amazingly delicious hors d’oeuvres on black rye bread with pickles accompanied by shots of cold vodka. It is quite natural for every Ukrainian hostess to have her own personal recipe of this delicacy and always keeps a nice chunk of suet in their freezer. Pork fat can easily be found in stores and open-air markets all over Ukraine. Generally speaking, taking into account such a variety of suet, there is no optimal criterion for choosing the best slab. However, there are certain rules for epicureans.
First of all, when buying suet at the market don’t be shy and ask to see sanitary certificates for the product. Otherwise, you may have problems with your health. Also look for a special stamp on meat or suet verifying that the pork was tested and indicating its place of origin. Also pay attention to a vendor’s hands and apron – they should be clean as a whistle.
In stores all required documents are usually controlled upon delivery. Of course, some store owners are not very honest. For this reason, in case suet raises suspicions, you should all not buy it.
You will be lucky to find a vendor that breeds his or her own pigs. If it turns out that the same person also breeds cows, you should definitely ask for their contact number for the future because it is a known fact that pigs that are fed dairy products on a regular basis give the most delicious suet. Indeed, the taste of suet depends on a pig’s diet.
The suet from pigs that are fed corn becomes too soft and is not very tasty. The fat of pigs that feed on barley, on the other hand, is very tasty. The texture of suet also depends on a pig’s diet. When pigs are overfed, they produce too much fat. If they are underfed, veins tend to appear in their flesh.
Typically, pigs kept in Ukrainian villages are fed for a year until they weigh 200 kg. This assures that they will have a palm-thick layer of suet. Conversely, the standard industrial feeding period is only 6 – 7 months until they reach a weight of 120 – 130 kg.
Sex, color and smell
It is better to buy suet from a swine, not a boar. A boar’s suet smells of urine, which is very difficult to eliminate unless you soak it in garlic water.
Testing the the taste and quality of pig fat is simple. All you need to do is slice the skin from the fat using a sharp knife. If the skin separates easily, this means the suet was cut from a swine. Also, suet of a boar is not suitable for salting. By the way, experts say the best option is to buy suet of a pig under the age of 15 months, albeit it is difficult to precisely determine the exact age of a pig. In this case, you can only trust the word of the vendor.
The color of suet is just as important as its smell. Suet should be either white or pink. If the pig fat is yellow color this is a sign that it is old. Also, do not buy suet with thick skin, because it will be tough. The skin must be clean, properly burned and have no hair.
You are well advised to pay attention to its smell. The fat should not give off any strange odors. Fresh suet has a unique dairy smell. When suet is improperly transported, for example, with fish or other food products, it absorbs different odors that are virtually impossible to get rid of.
The ultimate test
The tenderest suet with thin skin is cut from the back or the side of the animal. Such suet is good when raw and salted. Slices with thick skin cut from the neck or cheeks are tougher, though they are perfect for baking. Suet cut from a pig’s belly is quite special from the culinary point of view. Raw or salted suet tastes better when it is tougher. Fried or baked suet from a pig’s belly is a dainty, because it has 2 – 3 layers of meat and the thinnest skin. Ask a vendor to cut a thin slice of pig fat with a bit of skin. If you like the taste and texture, you can comfortably buy it.
In addition, suet is very healthy, good for the liver and reduces the level of cholesterol in your blood. Many have a misconception about suet believing that it should not be eaten when you are on a diet. In fact, suet is quite easy to digest, because it melts at 37°C, which is perfect for the human body. Moreover, it contains much less cholesterol than butter.
In closing, do not be afraid to eat suet, because rich, starchy and fried food does more harm to your body, while a small slice of suet a day is very wholesome.Printable version