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Thread: What is vegetable shortening?

  1. #1
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    Question What is vegetable shortening?

    Please help this naturalized American with an ingredient.
    CL Cookie Countdown Day 13: Molasses Cookies
    The recipe calls for vegetable shortening. What exactly is that? I know there is some stuff called Crisco - looks like pure lard to me but supposedly makes for a flaky pie crust. Surely CL must mean something else.

  2. #2
    Nope. Crisco shortening is vegetable shortening.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy/AZ View Post
    Nope. Crisco shortening is vegetable shortening.
    OK - I'll pull my jaw up from the floor and use Crisco. Thanks for helping me!

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    Judy is right, you need Crisco. Lard is animal fat.

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    You can use lard if you prefer--I frequently do. I forget what the substitution is--either one to one or slightly less lard. If you don't have issues with pork, lard is better for you than anything with trans fats. Crisco got rid of the trans fats--but I keep wondering how and if it is full of chemicals or something. Anybody know? Your organic section at your grocery also might sell palm kernal oil, which is a vegetable shortening, but speaking as someone who just used some in her oatmeal cookies, I think it spreads the cookies like butter... Not sure if I will keep using....

    -Laura
    -Laura

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    --Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)

    www.thespicedlife.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by funnybone View Post
    Judy is right, you need Crisco. Lard is animal fat.
    It just looks like lard and that was a big turn-off from the start. My immediate reaction at that time -25 years ago - was "This must be bad for your health".

  7. #7
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    Your immediate reaction is still correct :-)

    Isn't is one huge vat of trans fats? It does make a fabulous crust, but I can't bring myself to bake with it!

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    They now make a trans-fat free version (green can instead of blue) and CI concluded there is no discernable difference in baking.
    Happiness is not a goal, it is a byproduct. - Eleanor Roosevelt

  9. #9
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    I finally found an explanation of fully hydrogenated shortening (Crisco no trans fat) that made sense to me and I feel okay with it. Partially hydrogenated apparently keeps it softer. Fully hydrogenated makes it rock hard. With Crisco, after the fully hydrogenated process, the rock hard stuff is combined with liquid soy and sunflower oils which softens it.

    Here's the link:

    http://nutrition.about.com/od/askyou...ully_hydro.htm

  10. #10
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    I use Spectrum Organic Shortening. I think it works fine and it is not hydrogenated. Just Palm Oil, I am sure it is refined, but says not hydrogenated.

    Lisa

  11. #11

    Crisco in the green can

    ==========================
    Quote Originally Posted by Canice View Post
    They now make a trans-fat free version (green can instead of blue) and CI concluded there is no discernable difference in baking.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Thanks for the information about trans-fat free Crisco in the green can.

    I have avoided trying many recipes solely because they included "shortening" as an ingredient. I equated "shortening" with "lard" and thought Crisco was just a can of lard. What a relief to learn I was wrong about Crisco.

    My mom used to use Crisco a lot when I was a youngster many decades ago.
    =========================
    "When the kitchen smells spicy and wonderful, it can only mean one thing...it's not my kitchen." --- Maxine

  12. #12
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    I prefer to use coconut oil or palm oil in place of shortening as they are naturally solid at room temp so don't involve unnatural transformations! I'm not convince that fully hydrogenating oil will be any safer than partially...JMHO!
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sneezles View Post
    I prefer to use coconut oil or palm oil in place of shortening as they are naturally solid at room temp so don't involve unnatural transformations! I'm not convince that fully hydrogenating oil will be any safer than partially...JMHO!
    I have the same instinct--but so far (this is a recent transformation on my part) I don't think palm oil works as well, which is why, not being Jewish or vegetarian, I just use lard where necessary--except in frosting. Lard is better for you than butter, so if you are not squeamish about butter I don't see why you should be squeamish about lard. JMHO
    -Laura

    Muffins are for people who don't have the 'nads to order cake for breakfast.
    --Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)

    www.thespicedlife.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by ljt2r View Post
    Lard is better for you than butter, so if you are not squeamish about butter I don't see why you should be squeamish about lard. JMHO
    Not squeamish at all about butter or lard just can't find anything other than Armour brand which has partially hydrogenated crap...
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

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    Quote Originally Posted by sneezles View Post
    Not squeamish at all about butter or lard just can't find anything other than Armour brand which has partially hydrogenated crap...
    Oh sorry, I didn't mean that as a personal statement, I meant the royal you, people in general. Have you had good luck with palm oil? The kind I bought (something from the organic section) made my oatmeals cookies spread like crazy--they were practically lacy. But I too am freaked out by whatever they are doing to produce Crisco these days...
    -Laura

    Muffins are for people who don't have the 'nads to order cake for breakfast.
    --Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)

    www.thespicedlife.com/

  16. #16
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    I haven't had a problem with the Spectrum's organic shortening but I do mostly use organic coconut oil.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneezles View Post
    I haven't had a problem with the Spectrum's organic shortening but I do mostly use organic coconut oil.
    Is coconut oil different from palm oil or are those 2 names for the same stuff?
    -Laura

    Muffins are for people who don't have the 'nads to order cake for breakfast.
    --Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)

    www.thespicedlife.com/

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljt2r View Post
    Is coconut oil different from palm oil or are those 2 names for the same stuff?
    They are different in their consistency, color and origin. Coconut oil is very white and very hard at 68 degrees room temp. the palm oil I have is more ivory in color and soft like Crisco.

    Palm oil comes from the fruit of the palm tree(native to Africa) which is different than the coconut tree. Palm oil has caratenoids (the oil is a redish color in it's natural state) but is boiled for a few minutes which destroys the caratenoids and turns the oil white(it's not really white).

    Coconut oil comes from the copra (meat) of the coconut tree and is from Asia/Indonesia. The oil is extracted by mechanical rather than chemical means. It is naturally white in color.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneezles View Post
    They are different in their consistency, color and origin. Coconut oil is very white and very hard at 68 degrees room temp. the palm oil I have is more ivory in color and soft like Crisco.
    Does coconut oil keep baked good tender like a crisco? It definitely sounds like it might not spread as much as the palm oil did....
    -Laura

    Muffins are for people who don't have the 'nads to order cake for breakfast.
    --Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)

    www.thespicedlife.com/

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ljt2r View Post
    Does coconut oil keep baked good tender like a crisco? It definitely sounds like it might not spread as much as the palm oil did....
    It doesn't spread like butter or palm oil. It works great in pie crusts and cookie recipes. Both coconut oil and palm oil were the shortenings used before the saturated fat scare started back in the 40s (or whenever) and the public was sold a "bill of goods" on the healthfulness of things like Crisco and margarine/oleo!
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by sneezles View Post
    It doesn't spread like butter or palm oil. It works great in pie crusts and cookie recipes. Both coconut oil and palm oil were the shortenings used before the saturated fat scare started back in the 40s (or whenever) and the public was sold a "bill of goods" on the healthfulness of things like Crisco and margarine/oleo!
    Thanks for the info. Now I hope I can find it, since I definitely want to try it. I have had 2 failures with the palm oil (frosting and oatmeal cookies) and it sounds like the coconut oil might work better.
    -Laura

    Muffins are for people who don't have the 'nads to order cake for breakfast.
    --Seth, "Kitchen Confidential" (the show, not the book)

    www.thespicedlife.com/

  22. #22
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    I've not tried it for frosting and you'd have to like the taste of coconut, it's not strong but it's there. I can actually buy it in the grocery store it's right beside the ohter cooking oils. One other great selling point is that coconut oil has a very high smoke point which is great for frying!
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  23. #23

    Thumbs down Bad choices

    Both coconut oil and palm kernel oil have the highest saturated fat content
    of ALL other oils. They are not recommended to be used as a substitute for
    shortening unless your health is of no concern to you.

    Coconut Oil -86% saturated fat
    Palm Kernel Oil - 81% saturated fat
    Vegetable shortening - 31% saturated fat.

    As you can see, the first two will close arteries
    nearly three times faster than vegetable shortening.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by JungleJim View Post
    Both coconut oil and palm kernel oil have the highest saturated fat content
    of ALL other oils. They are not recommended to be used as a substitute for
    shortening unless your health is of no concern to you.

    Coconut Oil -86% saturated fat
    Palm Kernel Oil - 81% saturated fat
    Vegetable shortening - 31% saturated fat.

    As you can see, the first two will close arteries
    nearly three times faster than vegetable shortening.
    As with any fat moderation is key and vegetable shortening is manufactured not natural. Check out populations that have only ever used tropical oils in their diets (South Pacific/Asia) and you'll find extremely low incident of heart disease. It wasn't until the influence of Western culture that heart disease was a factor, it wasn't much of a factor in our culture until the introduction of margarine and vegetable shortenings!!!!! Not all saturated fat is bad for you, your body does need the fatty acids contained in saturated fat.
    Well-behaved women seldom make history!

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by JungleJim View Post
    Both coconut oil and palm kernel oil have the highest saturated fat content
    of ALL other oils. They are not recommended to be used as a substitute for
    shortening unless your health is of no concern to you.

    Coconut Oil -86% saturated fat
    Palm Kernel Oil - 81% saturated fat
    Vegetable shortening - 31% saturated fat.

    As you can see, the first two will close arteries
    nearly three times faster than vegetable shortening.
    Not to mention the fact that traditionally vegetable shortening has trans fats which has been proven to be far worse than saturated fats for our bodies. I find it curious that you dug up a 9 month old thread to prove this point on your first post.


    "Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself" ~ George Bernard Shaw


  26. #26
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    I agree with Sneezles, ljt2r and Robin,

    Saturated Fat is not the 'bad guy" it was made out to be. Moderation and in combination with a healthful diet (like whole foods, nutrient-dense foods) it is much healthier for you than the processed crap that most food is today.

    For those who want more info on this check out The Weston A. Price Foundation and also the book Nourishing Traditions.

    I tend to use Virgin Coconut butter (which actually only has a medium smoke point) or Palm Oil. I also use a lot of Olive Oil. However, if you want to use coconut oil and avoid the coconut flavor (doesn't work in some dishes) I also on occassion use the expeller pressed coconut oil.

    I get mine from Tropical Traditions (our CSA carries it) and really have been happy with their oils.

    Lisa

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