Today, while I was at my local supermarket that caters mainly to Hispanics, I decided to check out all of the fats, both lards/mantecas and shortenings.
With respect to the lards/mantecas, the long and short of it is that there are two forms, one solid and one liquid. What differentiates the two is the use of hydrogenation of the fats, which solidifies them. The Armour brand is one of the solid forms. It comprises lard and hydrogenated lard. As one might expect, the usual suspects, like BHA and BHT, are added, supposedly to “protect flavor”.
I found two brands of the liquid lards/mantecas, the Chema brand (which I reported on before in another thread), and a house brand. The mantecas (labeled Manteca de Puerco) were in 28-ounce plastic containers. The description of the product was “Rendered pork skin fat”. BHA and BHT are also used but no hydrogenation. The fat itself actually comprises two parts, one that is fairly thick (yet still a liquid) and tan in color, and an oily, thinner reddish liquid on top. Volume-wise, I would say that the two fats were about equal. I decided to shake one of the containers to see if I could combine the two fats. A worker (a Hispanic woman) who was stocking shelves nearby saw me doing this and perhaps asked herself “ˇAy, caramba! What is this crazy Gringo doing to my beloved manteca?” But, she politely intervened and told me in broken English that if I microwaved the manteca it would become more liquid and blend more easily. I thanked her for the advice but I kept shaking the container until the two fats did finally combine, with the result being a mixture that was like a pancake batter but quite a bit thicker. It still had an overall tannish color. I thanked the worker again before she could summon a manager because of my molestation of their manteca, and exited stage right in the direction of the shortenings shelf.
With respect to the shortenings I looked at, I found one brand (Mrs. Tucker’s) that is made using meat fats and vegetable oils. I did not see the word hydrogenation but rather mono- and diglycerides, which are known emulsifiers. Preservatives were also listed on the label. I squeezed the package and it had a little give to it so maybe the product is not quite as solid as the lard/mantecas like the Armour product.