Shortening is any fat that is a solid at room temperature and used to make crumbly pastry and other food products. Although butter is solid at room temperature and is frequently used in making pastry, the term “shortening” seldom refers to butter, but is more closely related to margarine.
Originally it was synonymous with lard, but with the invention of margarine by French chemist Hippolyte Mége-Mouriés in 1869, margarine also came to be included in the term. Since the invention of hydrogenated vegetable oil in the early 20th century, it has come almost exclusively to mean hydrogenated vegetable oil. It shares many properties with lard: Both are semi-solid fats with a higher smoke point than butter and margarine. They contain less water and are thus less prone to splattering, making them safer for frying. It has higher fat content with lard compared to about 80% for butter and margarine. Cake margarines and shortenings tend to contain a few percent of monoglycerides whereas other margarines typically have less. Such “high ratio shortenings” blend better with hydrophilic ingredients such as starches and sugar.
While similar to lard, it was much cheaper to produce. It also requires no refrigeration, which further lowered its costs and increased its appeal in a time when refrigerators were rare.
In the early twenty-first century, vegetable shortening became the subject of some health concerns due to its traditional formulation from partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that contain trans-fatty acids, or “trans fats”, as these have been linked to a number of adverse health effects.
All Purpose Vegetable Shortening produced without partially Hydrogenated vegetable oils, superb for light frying and baking, and excellent for use in cookies, cakes, biscuits, pie crusts, pastries and bread making.
Standard Specification of various Shortening: