What Is the Difference Between Fats and Oils?

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Fats are solid at room temperature and tend to be of animal origin, though some vegetable oils are also solid at room temperature. Oils are liquid at room temperature and tend to be derived from plants, but some oils can also be derived from fish. Margarine can be a combination of animal fats and vegetable oils.

Among the fats used for cooking are suet, lard and drippings. Suet is the white fat found around the kidneys of beef or lamb. It's used to make a tender and flaky pie crust.

Lard is used for frying and baking. The best lard comes from the stomach fat of the pig and the fat that lies right under the skin of the pig's back. Caul fat is another type of lard that forms a delicate, lacy layer around the pig's intestines. It's also found in cows and sheep. Fatback is fat from the pig's loin and is used to lard dry meats.

The drippings of meat like bacon, geese, ducks and chicken are poured off and allowed to solidify. They are then used to fry other meats.

Oils include olive oil, almond and walnut oil, safflower oil, canola oil, sesame oil, grapeseed oil and peanut oil.