When the matter is about cooking or baking, it is all about the taste that matters. Although, you cannot completely avoid the nutritional components too. Shortening is nothing new to any household, as it is one of the commonly used components for cooking, baking, or frying.
As the name suggests, shortening literally shorts the gluten and contributes to creating a tender product. Thus, one cannot make a good pastry without a shortening. This article is going to cover up everything that you need to know about shortening.
What is shortening?
Shortening is the process of converting a liquid plant-oil into a semisolid texture. These textures do not melt at room temperature and require extra heat to break down. Shortening is a fat that remains solid at room temperature and can be efficiently used in baking.
It is most commonly used to make loaves of bread or crumbly pastries. It helps to make dough shorter. The made-up of a shortening depends on the type of shortener. While some can be plant-based and are made from vegetable oils, and some can be made from animal fats as well.
Some of the popular substitutes of shorteners are- butter, and margarine, and hydrogenated vegetable oils like palm oil and soybean.
Uses of Shortening
Shortening is used right and in the most health efficient manner is a great way of adding value to the food industry. Shortening is defined primarily as the fat supplement that catalyzes baking. Baking or cooking requires oil for making the products brittle.
It is also required for making products rise. Shortening is done chemically to keep the vegetable fat at the saturation of 100 percent and thus has a higher melting point.
Having a higher melting point, shortening helps a cake or a cookie hold its shape while cooking. Because of the high melting point, shortening is also often used for frying as it is more heat-stable compared to oil.
Characteristics of shortening
Most of us are aware of the presence of a substance named gluten in wheat flour. Gluten contributes to making the dough sticky and chewy.
If you add shortening, the effect of gluten will change in the batter. In short, without shortening, the pastry will become flaky, and with shortening, the result of the recipe will be crumbly and soft. Especially for baking any type of pastry, having a crust, tarts, or pies is helpful.
Additionally, you can melt and soften a shortening, or you can also cream it into a mixture for baking pastries. Also, it serves as a cheaper alternative to coconut oil or butter.
The long shelf life of shortening and its low level of moisture delays rancidityand increases the fat stability. This means that it can be used repeatedly for some. An unopened shortening can stay in good shape for up to two years, and if opened, it can stay well for at least one year.
Nutrition and benefits
Shortening is 100% fat. Vegetable shortenings contain high fat of about 12.7grams per tablespoon, 113 calories, 2.75 milligrams vitamin K, 3 milligrams choline, and 0.12 milligrams vitamin E.
The presence of Vitamin E in shortening is beneficial for skin health. It supports the immune system and contributes to cell regeneration.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in shortening give you enough essentials for your regular health.
Being a type of fat, shortening has successfully made its place in both cooking and baking. The traditional use of shortening is in pastries like pie crusts and cakes.
Although, the vegetable shortenings are more shelf-stable compared to other shortenings like lard or butter. Thus, you need to choose shortening based on the texture and taste you prefer.