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Alternative to Shortening

Hey everyone,

I apologize if this has already been brought up along the line. I was wondering if anyone knew an alternative to shortening when baking. IS there one? Shortening is solidified, icky hydrogenated oil, which I try to avoid at all costs, yet shortening is called for in so many recipes for cookies/pies/etc. My mom, for instance, uses it frequently for baked goods -- in lieu of anything else, I urge her to use Crisco since it's the only one without lard (ack!), but, obviously, it's still unhealthy and unnatural. Would vegetable oil be a suitable substitution or would it change the texture too much?

Thanks for your help!


( 27 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 20th, 2004 09:19 am (UTC)
Actually lard is healthier for you than transfats...although it's a case of the lesser of two evils really.
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:03 am (UTC)
Since I'm a vegetarian, however, and lard is animal fat, it's badness all around. :)
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:11 am (UTC)
Eek ok, that I certainly understand! :)

FYI, shortening is not used in British cookbooks (or I've never seen it in 7 years in Britain), and in fact I've never seen shortening for sale (although they do use lard in some pastry crusts). So maybe it's just an issue of finding new recipes for your mother?
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:32 am (UTC)
Well, maybe I should start buying British cookbooks! ;)

I tend to eat plenty of what my mother bakes, since she's a great cook, so it would be handy if she'd try alternatives to shortening too. :)
Jun. 20th, 2004 09:22 am (UTC)
I'm wondering abot butter-is that a good cooking alternative? There's the downside that it makes the texture/taste of the baked items different.
Jun. 20th, 2004 09:23 am (UTC)
I don't use shortening
I use butter instead.
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:04 am (UTC)
Re: I don't use shortening
Huh, that's neat. I guess I never even thought of it since many recipes call for shortening *and* butter.
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:25 am (UTC)
Re: Butter
Yeah I've used butter even when making home made flour tortillas, and it tastes delicious using butter.
Jun. 20th, 2004 09:25 am (UTC)
You can use butter, but you have to use 20% more butter than the recipe calls for shortening and decrease the liquid by 20%.
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:05 am (UTC)

What do you mean by "decrease the liquid by 20%"? As in lessen the amount of other liquids in the recipe? ie. milk/soy milk or whatever?
Jun. 21st, 2004 08:08 am (UTC)
Just decrease one liquid, not all of them.

Butter is 20% water. Shortening is all fat. You have to increase the butter to give you the right amount of fat, and decrease the liquid in the rest of the recipe to account for the extra water.

I will admit, this is much easier in grams. I usually just add a quarter stick of butter to every stick called for and take away a Tsp. of liquid for every extra quarter I add. It is a very rough estimate, but usually turns out ok.
Jun. 20th, 2004 09:26 am (UTC)
i use a brand of margarine that has no trans fats called smart balance. i use it for shortening and it doesn't seem to make the outcome of my baked foods any different.
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:07 am (UTC)
I use margarine with no trans fat as well -- I'll have to experiment. :)
Jun. 20th, 2004 11:56 am (UTC)
Smart balance also makes an actual shortening-like product, too. i use it for my deep fryer, on the rare occasions that i fry things.
Jun. 20th, 2004 06:10 pm (UTC)
oh cool. thanks for letting me know.
Jun. 20th, 2004 09:27 am (UTC)
shortening can be replaced with butter if you're inclined....and hence there are veg*n margarine alternatives without hydrogenated fats that would technically work. If the shortening is used in its solid state in the recipe you can't substitute with oil because it will change the textures/ratios/etc. Ever try to "soften" butter but it melts and you use it in cookies? It doesn't work. They either completely melt out into a flat hard disc or burn. Good times.

I don't know much about the veg*n margarines but I know they exist....good luck!
Jun. 20th, 2004 09:27 am (UTC)
Spectrum Palm Shortening (soy-free, vegan, non-hydrogenated)
safe vegetable oils
lard (not an option for me)

Substituting butter or oil for shortening isn't technically 1:1. I usually use 3/4 to 7/8 cup of oil for every cup of shortening (or butter, for that matter) called for and i use a scant cup of butter for every shortening cup. It takes a bit of practice to figure out baking (humidity, temp, altitude, etc), but things work out much better when one figures it out. ;)

Jun. 20th, 2004 10:09 am (UTC)
I see a lot of experimental cookies in my future. ;) Thanks for the measurement help!
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:11 am (UTC)
personally i use vegetable oil for all my baking needs. for a more robust flavor however, sometimes i use butter.
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:11 am (UTC)
i use the spectrum organic shortening. it's just pure palm oil and works superbly !
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:33 am (UTC)
I'll keep my eye out for that! I've never seen it, but then, I haven't particularly looked because I didn't know it existed. ;>
Jun. 20th, 2004 10:38 am (UTC)
Earth Balance makes a shortening with no transfats, I had this same issue recently. Sometimes I can replace shortening with more healthy things (like pumpkin, or apple sauce), but sometimes it just isn't the same without something sticky holding it all together. My results using margarine in place of shortening have been mixed. Anyway, the Earth Balance shortening works just fine!
Jun. 20th, 2004 06:42 pm (UTC)
Shortening was used as an alternative to butter during war time. If you have a recipe that still calls for shortening, just use butter in its place. It works just fine.
Jun. 20th, 2004 11:06 pm (UTC)
I also use Earth Balance. They sell a shortening-like product as well as regular margarine, but I use the regular stuff for baking and it works well (all of their products are non-hydrogenated).
Jun. 21st, 2004 09:05 am (UTC)
coconut oil (crisco consistency) is a healthy alternative although it makes foods taste somewhat coconutty.

It also depends on the dish, you can use substitutes for binder/chewy texture like applesauce (the pectin), prunes,
Jun. 22nd, 2004 06:27 am (UTC)
Huh, that's interesting. I'll have to try coconut oil out. :)
Jun. 21st, 2004 09:25 am (UTC)
i have used softened butter in it's place with much success, if you use animal products at all.
( 27 comments — Leave a comment )

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