January 7, 2009

The meaning of ‘shortenings’

The meaning of ‘shortenings’
Fats and fat products may consist of:
  • Fat or oil
  • Fat plus an emulsifying agent
  • Fat emulsions such as butter and margarine

Fat products are used as shortenings, spreads, solid oil, cooking and frying fats and oils, and in the preparations of confectionery and icings.

The term shortening had its origin in the United States and referred to a preparation, originally developed from cottonseed oil, that was used to “shorten” the preparation time of shortbread and cakes. Shortenings consist entirely of fat and contain no moisture. The traditional shortening is lard.

Domestic shortenings generally fall into one of 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.

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.

High ratio shortenings allow a higher ratio of sugar to flour to be used in cakes due to the emulsifying properties of the shortenings. Emulsifiers are usually mono – or diglycerides.
The meaning of ‘shortenings’

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