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Shortening Nutrition Facts

Lard, hydrogenated solidified oils, margarine, and even butter can all be used as shortening because it is defined as any solid fat at room temperature. But in contemporary cooking, “shortening” primarily refers to hydrogenated oils like vegetable shortening. Vegetable shortening is a safe option for frying because it is a semisolid fat, like lard, with a high smoke point and little water content. To produce tender outcomes, it is often utilized in baking. Shortening is made entirely of fat, has no flavor or aroma, and doesn’t need to be refrigerated.

Shortening

A baker’s cupboard should always have been shortened. It gives many shortbread recipes their shortness, flakiness in pie crust, and tenderness in biscuits. Below are details on all varieties of shortening, not simply the white variety, along with an explanation of how and why.

There are no trans fats created when oils are fully hydrogenated since the unsaturated fats are converted to saturated fats. However, complete hydrogenation produces a hard fat that is no longer soft and spreadable.

To create a spreadable texture, completely hydrogenated oils are frequently combined with liquid oil in a process known as interesterification.

Shortening Nutrition Facts

Shortening Nutrition Facts

What is Exactly Shortening?

Shortening is known as any fat that is solid at room temperature and used to create the flaky pastry and other foods. Although it may be used to make pastry and is solid at room temperature, butter is rarely referred to as shortening. Long before the creation of contemporary, shelf-stable vegetable shortening, the concept of shortening may be traced back to at least the 18th century.

Lard was the main component used to shorten dough in past eras. It causes the meal to behave like a crumble or as though it had short strands, which is why it is called shortening. Cross-linking of gluten molecules is prevented by solid fat, and the dough would gain flexibility from this cross-linking, allowing it to be stretched into longer sections. Shortening creates the desired texture in pastries like cake, which shouldn’t be elastic.

Types/Varieties

What is shortening made of? It depends on the specific type of shortener. Some are made from animal fats, while others are plant-based and made from vegetable oils.

Examples of popular shorteners include:

  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Hydrogenated vegetable oils, such as soybean and palm oil
  • Lard

Vegetable shortenings are vegan, unlike animal shortenings like lard and butter.

Taste

Unlike butter or lard, vegetable shortening has no flavor unless butter-flavored shortening is used. Because of this, it can be used in situations where overpowering fat flavors are undesirable.

Shortening Uses

In baking and cooking, shortening serves specific functions. Crisco is a well-known shortening brand that has been in existence since 1911. You’ve probably heard of it.

  • Shortening and other solid fats are preferred to liquid oils to produce a soft, flaky final result in baking applications like cookies, pie crusts, and cakes.
  • Gluten strands in wheat flour stretch and create a matrix during standard mixing and baking. This imparts a chewy, elastic feel to baked foods like bread.
  • The gluten strands are coated when a lipid, like shortening, is added to the flour before baking, preventing them from extending and forming a tough matrix. As a result, the final product is delicate, crumbly, and flaky.
  • Shortening gets its name from the shortening of the gluten strands. Vegetable shortening is more affordable and shelf-stable even if butter and lard can achieve the same result.
  • Because it has less saturated fat than butter and lard, it was previously believed to be healthier. However, we now understand that highly processed shortening is not healthier than butter or lard and might even be less nutrient-dense.
  • Shortening is also not just for baking — it’s commonly used instead of oil or other fat types for frying.

Is Shortening Healthy?

There are no trans fats created when oils are fully hydrogenated since the unsaturated fats are converted to saturated fats. However, complete hydrogenation produces a hard fat that is no longer soft and spreadable.

  1. To create a spreadable texture, completely hydrogenated oils are frequently combined with liquid oil in a process known as interesterification.
  2. Interesterified fats’ potential consequences on health are mostly unknown. Simply put, not enough research has been done to determine the long-term effects of these fats on our health. However, the results of recent rat research on the impact of interesterified lipids are somewhat dismal.
  3. In one study, scientists discovered that these lipids encouraged inflammation, fat cell growth, and fatty liver disease in rats. Another study found that rats’ blood sugar regulation was impaired while interesterified lipids in the diet encouraged fat accumulation.
  4. However, the ingestion of interesterified fat in people did not appear to have any negative impacts, according to one review. We must conduct additional human studies to comprehend how these lipids affect humans healthfully.
  5. However, shortening is still a highly processed food that is normally exclusively used to make fried foods or pastries with a lot of extra sugar and fat.

Therefore, even while it’s acceptable to indulge in a treat made with shortening occasionally, it’s a good idea to use less of it overall.

Risks and Side Effects

Consuming goods containing trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils are associated with several health hazards, according to a mountain of research from the last few decades.

The chemical process known as hydrogenation transforms liquid oil into solid fat with a spreadable consistency. While oils are completely solid after full hydrogenation, fats are only semisolid at room temperature after partial hydrogenation.

Partially hydrogenated fats are regarded as “risk foods” because processing alters their chemical make-up. They are easily oxidized when subjected to high heat. Therefore they could be a factor in the production of free radicals, oxidative stress, and inflammation.

Studies show that negative health effects associated with partially hydrogenated fats/trans fats include:

  • Increased risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke
  • Increased hardening/calcification of the arteries
  • Increased “bad” LDL cholesterol levels and decreased “good” HDL cholesterol
  • Increased inflammation
  • Negative impacts on functions of the nervous system
  • Increased risk of death

The good news is that the Food and Drug Administration in the US mandates that all food labels include the amount of trans fat. This means that you can opt for more recent trans-fat-free items or, even better, merely utilize unprocessed natural fats and oils.

What are the Alternatives to Shortening?

You can substitute shortening for alternatives in recipes in addition to minimizing the amount of shortening you consume.

Butter

The most widely used shortening substitute is undoubtedly butter. Because butter offers such a rich flavor, many people genuinely prefer it. It is also solid at room temperature, making it ideal for baked goods like cookies, pastries, and pie crusts. Because butter is inherently high in saturated fat, some people are reluctant to use it. Health professionals once asserted that eating saturated fat increases the risk of developing heart disease.

According to several recent scientific reviews, there is no evidence to support a connection between saturated fat consumption and heart disease. However, given the conflicting findings, you might adhere to the American Heart Association’s advice to consume only 5 to 6 percent of your daily calories from saturated fat.

Accordingly, if you take in 2,200 calories daily, no more than 132 of them should come from saturated fat. In most recipes, butter is a good substitute for shortening, and just be mindful that shortening would likely have a smoother texture than butter due to the minimal amount of water in it. Ghee, often clarified butter, is a good substitute with very little water.

Palm or Coconut Oil Shortening

Because they are naturally heavy in saturated fat, coconut and unprocessed palm oils are solid at room temperature, and they are simple shortening substitutes thanks to their solid, spreadable structure. Many companies now provide substitute shortenings that can replace shortening 1:1 and are derived from pure palm or coconut oil.

Coconut oil may also provide some health advantages. These choices do have certain disadvantages, though. Coconut oil may impart a nutty or coconut flavor to meals, but palm oil has drawn criticism because of how harvesting it harms the environment.

Other Plant Oils

Most plant oils are suitable only for recipes that call for melted shortening since they are low in saturated fats and are liquid at room temperature.

Liquid oil won’t produce the same flaky results in recipes like pie crusts where solid fat is cut into the flour. When liquid oil is used for shortening in baking, the end product may be too stiff and have an uneven grain. According to several studies, swapping out saturated fat for unsaturated fat in your diet may lower your chance of developing heart disease.

However, many vegetable oils are unfortunately high in omega-6 fatty acids, which may cause inflammation in persons who don’t consume enough omega-3 fatty acids (found in foods like fatty fish, chia seeds, and flaxseed). Some of the greatest plant oils for preparing food and baking include avocado, olive, and coconut oil.

How to Cook and Bake with Shortening?

Shortening

Solid fat is “cut” into flour or a dry flour combination to give the dough the appearance of shortening. A pastry cutter, two knives, a food processor, or even your hands could be used for this. Repeatedly broken up into smaller bits, the fat is dusted with flour.

The finished texture of the baked item will depend on the piece sizes. For instance, pea-sized fat chunks usually produce flaky products, like croissants or pie crust. Crumbling compositions like streusel are produced by a texture miming coarse sand or cornmeal.

To fry using shortening, add the necessary amount to a large, high-sided frying pan, let it melt, and then cook until the food is appropriate. Without overcrowding the pan, add the item to be fried and cook until golden brown.

Conclusion

Trans fats and hydrogenated oils are commonly used to produce processed vegetable shorteners to extend their shelf life and reduce costs. However, several health issues, including a higher risk for heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke, have been connected to these fats.

Shortening also contains a lot of calories and has no nutritional advantages. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use healthier substitutes like butter, olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil whenever feasible and limit your shortening intake. Shortening is now trans-fat-free due to the recent prohibition on trans fats. Even so, shortening is still heavily processed, and the current interesterification method used to make spreadable shortening could pose additional health hazards.

Trans fats and hydrogenated oils are commonly used to produce processed vegetable shorteners to extend their shelf life and reduce costs. However, several health issues, including a higher risk for heart disease, heart attacks, and stroke, have been connected to these fats. Shortening also contains a lot of calories and has no nutritional advantages. Therefore, it’s a good idea to use healthier substitutes like butter, olive oil, avocado oil, or coconut oil whenever feasible and limit your shortening intake.