Often a by-product of the rendering of lard, it is also a way of making even the tough skin of a pig edible. In many ancient cultures, animal fats were the only way of obtaining oil for cooking and it was common in many people's diet until the industrial revolution made vegetable oils more common and more affordable.
Microwaveable pork rinds are sold in bags that resemble microwaveable popcorn (although not exhibiting the popping sound) and can be eaten still warm. Pickled pork rinds, on the other hand, are often enjoyed refrigerated and cold. Unlike the crisp and fluffy texture of fried pork rinds, pickled pork rinds are very rich and buttery, much like foie gras.
For the large scale production of commercial pork rinds, frozen, dried pork skin pellets are used.
|A bowl of pork rinds|
Like many snack foods, pork rinds are high in sodium and fat, however, they are low in carbohydrates and are sometimes considered an alternative snack food for those following the Atkins diet. According to Men's Health, a one-ounce (28 g) serving contains nine times the protein and less fat than is found in a serving of potato chips, which are much higher in carbohydrates. They add that 43 percent of pork rind's fat is unsaturated, and most of that is oleic acid, the same healthy fat found in olive oil. Another 13 percent of its fat content is stearic acid, a type of saturated fat that is considered harmless because it does not raise cholesterol levels. A 60g serving of pork rind contains 29g of fat, 375 kcal and 0.65g of sodium. However, pork rinds are considered an incomplete source of protein because they contain very low amounts of some essential amino acids, including methionine, tryptophan and histidine.
Pork rinds, sometimes cracklings, is the American name for fried or roasted skins of pigs, geese or
|A pork scratching from a bag|
Cajun cracklings (or "cracklins") from Cajun cuisine (called "gratons" in Louisiana French), are fried pieces of pork fat with a small amount of attached skin, flavored after frying with a mixture of peppery Cajun spices.
Pork rinds normally refers to a snack food commercially sold in plastic bags. They are made in a two-step process: pork skin is first rendered and dried, and then fried and puffed. These are also called by the Mexican name, chicharrón, in reference to the popular Mexican food.
Pork rinds sold in the United States are occasionally stained with a pink or purple spot. These edible marks are actually USDA stamps used on the skins to mark that they have been inspected, and graded. They are not harmful.
In 2003, sales of pork rinds experienced rapid growth, but they have dropped "by $31 million since 2004, when they reached $134 million, and now make up barely more than 1 percent of the salty snack market."