The Basics: Vegetable Shortening

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Cooking & Baking Essentials

The Technique

Vegetable Shortening

Vegetable Shortening is a valuable kitchen ingredient. Although many consider it to have some negative characteristics, the main being lack of flavor, it does have a place in recipe applications. Vegetable Shortening may be used in making all sorts of baked goods ranging from flaky pie crusts, biscuits & cookies to savory specialties including flour tortillas & homemade tamales. In order to remedy the taste, butter may be added to formulas such as in the case of polvoron dough. But some may wonder why use it all. The answer is that it’s versatile & reliable when certain characteristics are desired, particularly in baked goods. Vegetable Shortening is clearly invaluable when greasing tube pans for Buttermilk Pound Cake, half sheet pans for Buttermilk Petits Fours, standard cake pans for Old-Fashioned Caramel Cake & 13 x 9-inch pans for Classic Co-Cola Cake. It is essential in ensuring an easy release of items when used in conjunction with a smattering of flour or parchment paper. When added to recipe formulas, Vegetable Shortening is dependable in providing certain structural & textural characteristics. It has a much higher melting point than butter so many bakers use in when preparing pie dough. Vegetable Shortening is cut into flour, salt & maybe a little sugar. Once coated with these ingredients, it’s rolled & typically placed in a pie plate. During the rolling procedure, the fat is flattened throughout then chilled. When placed in a hot oven & slowly allowed to melt during the baking process, it creates the flakiness desired in a crust. 

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How To Store & Use Vegetable Shortening

Typically, most Vegetable Shortening is made from a combination of partially or fully hydrogenated oils including soybean, cottonseed & palm oils. Hydrogenation is a process by which hydrogen is added to the vegetable oil that results in fat that is solid at room temperature. The procedure also helps provide a longer shelf life without the need for refrigeration.

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Vegetable Shortening is available in large cylindrical containers or in sticks that are ideal for use in many baking applications. The sticks offer a convenient table that allow you to slice away the amount needed for particular recipe applications. It should be stored at room temperature & has a shelf life of approximately 2 years. Once open, wrap any unused portion in plastic & place in the container provided, then store in a cool dark place. When using Vegetable Shortening to grease pans for cakes, swipe a generous amount on a paper towel then coat surfaces well & evenly. Simply toss the paper towel when done. 

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About Rebecca Gordon

* Southern Born * Southern Bred * Tailgate Queen * Football Fanatic * Buttermilk Lipstick Culinary & Entertaining Techniques Instructor * Cooking & Baking Tutorials * Media Personality * Baking & Pastry Artist * Gardener * Runner * Retainer of Useless Pop Culture One Liners * Terrible Dancer * Even Worse Singer * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Rebecca Gordon shares over 20 years of cooking knowledge in the instructional filled original editorial content on Buttermilk Lipstick as well as the cooking class format videos that can be found on her YouTube channel through regular collaboration with numerous media outlets. Gordon draws from an extensive background in corporate publishing spanning over 13 years on both the business and editorial side focusing on women’s southern lifestyle. She is a classically trained pastry chef and draws from fine dining restaurant experience from a James Beard award winning chef as well as her southern roots upbringing to share cooking, entertaining & style content relevant to today’s modern woman.

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