The basic function of food is to keep us alive and healthy. The study of food science involves understanding the nature composition and behavior of food materials under varying conditions of storage processing and use.

March 29, 2015

What is shortening?

Originally shortening was the term used to describe the function performed by naturally occurring solid fats such as lard and butter in baked products.

The composition of the shortening had progressed from natural fats to blends of oils, hydrogenated fats and hard fats as well as trait modified oils.

Today, shortening is generally made from vegetable fats, particularly soybean and cottonseed oils but also palm oil and coconut oil.

In general, shortenings can be split into two categories:  molded products (10% air) and liquid filled products (10 – 35% air). Molded products have goods cake making properties. Liquid-filled products are more expensive but are easier to use.

Shortening has a melting point of 110 ° F (43.3 °C) and is excellent for creaming with crystalline sugars. Shortenings are matured (tempered) by holding at an elevated temperature (25 – 30%) for up to 48 hr.

This maturation causes a change in crystal structure such that when the product is cooled it has a plastic texture. This process is accomplished with scraped surface heat exchangers.

Shortening is 100% fat, and is not as sensitive to shift in temperature as butter or margarine.  It is nutritionally inferior to other fats and oils. The only nutrient it offers is fat, most of which is saturated or hydrogenated.
What is shortening?

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