Is shortening lard?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Is shortening lard?” and will discuss the difference between lard and shortening.

Is shortening lard?

No, shortening is not lard. Lard is a product that is purely derived from animal fats while shortening is a product from vegetable oil.

What Is Lard?

Lard, one of the pig derivatives, is obtained from the rendering of adipose tissue of pig. It is obtained from any part of the pig where there is a large proportion of adipose tissue. Animal fat is generally highly saturated, which means that the animal fat solidifies at a relatively high temperature (1). 

It has been used in baking and cooking for millennia since it is made from rendered animal fat, most often from pigs. If you’re making anything savory, you can get away with using unprocessed lard that still tastes like a pig. Even if you may use it in sweet recipes, you’ll need to get your hands on the fat located surrounding the kidneys, which is reduced into leaf lard. Even though it’s known to be especially harmful, lard isn’t any more dangerous than other solid fats. Shortening, on the other hand, has more trans fats than lard. Even though it will never be known as healthy food, it defies the stereotype.

What Does Shortening Mean?

Even though the word “shortening” may apply to any solid fat, the most prevalent use of the phrase is when referring to vegetable-based shortening. Vegetable shortening is a vegetarian alternative to lard since it is made from vegetable oils such as soybean, cottonseed, or palm oils. Crisco became a popular “healthy” alternative when it was introduced to customers in 1911, but research today reveals that there isn’t much of a nutritional difference between the two. Crisco is available in a variety of flavors, including basic and buttery.

Shortening is made by hydrogenation of vegetable oil. The simple principle of hydrogenation is the addition of a hydrogen atom to the unsaturated bonds in the presence of a catalyst, leading to an oxidative stable product with characteristics of solid materials. The process is controlled by the temperature, pressure, rate of agitation, amount of the catalyst and purity of the hydrogen. Partially or fully hydrogenated fat should undergo purification and bleaching processes after manufacturing (2).

Shortening vs. Lard: What Are the Differences?

Shortening and lard both have a lot in common, but they’re not the same thing. But what distinguishes them from each other? We’ve examined every facet of these lipids to determine what makes them unique.

Manufacturing

Lard and shortening are both generated from animal fats and both are solid, differently from oils, which are liquid at low temperatures; however, the difference is that shortening is made from vegetable oils. Instead, lard originates from the rendered fat of animals. However, even though they’re both fatty acids, their production techniques are very different. Hydrogen is added to vegetable oils to create vegetable shortening. These fats are made entirely from hydrogenated oils.

 The lard sold in supermarkets nowadays is processed lard. Raw fat and waste fat from animal carcasses are removed and then made into oil using a rendering process. Rendering consists of grinding the animal by-products to a fine texture and heating them until the liquid fat separates from solids and pathogens are killed. The solid matter is usually passed through a screw press to complete the removal of the fat from the solid residue. The heating process also eliminates water, which makes the fat and solid material stable against rancidity (1). 

 Steaming or boiling is used to first melt the meat’s fat. Dry-rendering is another process for melting fat. When fat is melted in large vats without any liquid, this is what happens.

Lard is bleached after it has been melted. We call this a properly rendered lard because of the addition of hydrogen and preservatives. A very mild taste and solidity are the only characteristics of lard made in this manner.

Choose naturally processed lard if you don’t want your meal to have any extra ingredients or hydrogenated fat. However, bear in mind that the odor and flavor will be more potent.

Flavor

Lard’s taste is greatly influenced by how it was prepared. If handled correctly, lard has essentially no taste. The scent of well-processed lard is likewise nonexistent. Some people think that lard made from pig fat tastes and smells like bacon grease. This is not the truth. Neither does shortening have a distinctive taste. Instead of flavoring food, it was initially designed to simulate butter’s properties in baking.

The flavor enhancing properties of lard and tallow is the reason for its application as a frying agent. Traditionally lard is used in bread making to assist the leavening process and to soften the crumb. The soft consistency and crystalline character make lard the most suitable shortening for pastry. At the usual lower mixing temperatures of pastry, lard retains his plastic properties, while other fats become too hard. The use of lard in the bakery industry is praised in terms of color, flakiness, flavor and tenderness (3).

However, high-quality vegetable oils that taste a little like butter are now available. Shortening tends to taste oily when used in baked products, which may be an issue for some people. This may be explained in a very rational manner.

As a replacement for butter in cooking, shortening was created, however, the two items are not identical in all respects. Butter has a lower melting point than shortening. It melts in your mouth and you don’t feel like you’re eating anything greasy.

Instead, shortening softens but does not dissolve when exposed to heat from the body. This is the reason why some individuals find shortening to be oily in flavor. Shortening is a wonderful butter alternative since most people either don’t notice or don’t care about this.

Consistency

There are two forms of shortening: solid and liquid. Bricks and cans of solid shortening are both readily available. For frying, disposable jars of liquid shortening are useful. Solid or semi-solid lard may be purchased.

When solid, shortening and lard have a fairly similar consistency. Creamy and spreadable, they’re a great snack. Both lard and shortening have a butter-like consistency. Tubs of lard and shortening have a similar appearance. They’re not only identical in terms of texture but also in terms of appearance. Buttery yellow to pure white is the color spectrum for lard and shortening.

Solid fats usually contain higher proportions of saturated fats, whereas liquid oils are richer in mono- and polyunsaturated fats. Existing forms of fats are not always suitable for their intended purposes in industrial applications. Saturated fats exhibit several functional properties that many food technologies and products are based on. For example, fat shortenings prevent gluten network formation in baked goods by coating gluten particles due to their plasticity and elasticity or forming sheet layers in croissant dough. Moreover, solid fats are being used as spreadable products because of their unique property to experience a plastic flow when a stress higher than the yield stress is applied (2).

Variety

Shortenings made from various types of oils are classified as a variety of vegetable shortenings. When shortening is made from a combination of different vegetable oils, it is more beneficial to divide it into categories based on how it will be used.

In addition to all-purpose shortening, you may also get shortening for cakes and cookies. All-purpose shortening does not include emulsifiers, while the latter does. The kind of animal fat used to make lard may be categorized. Lard is normally produced from pig fat, although duck or goose fat may also be used.

Depending on the kind of fat used, lard may also come in a variety of flavors. Extracted from leaf, back, and mixed fats are all examples. Most people choose leaf lard because of its mild taste and delicate texture.

The research field in this area is increasing, due to the concerns regarding the consumption of fat, both animal and trans fatty acids (originated by the hydrogenation of oils in the production of shortening). In order to replace the existing solid fats with liquid oil, modifications to the latter group must be made for functionality improvements. Over the years, numerous approaches have been developed for oil modification. The conventional techniques include: hydrogenation, fractionation or chemical interesterification. Therefore, oils can be tailored for specific purposes (2).

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Is shortening lard?” and discussed the difference between lard and shortening.

References

  1. Narine, S. S., and K. L. Humphrey. A comparison of lipid shortening functionality as a function of molecular ensemble and shear: microstructure, polymorphism, solid fat content and texture. Food res int, 2004, 37, 28-38.
  2. Temkov M, Mureșan V. Tailoring the Structure of Lipids, Oleogels and Fat Replacers by Different Approaches for Solving the Trans-Fat Issue—A Review. Foods. 2021, 10, 1376.
  3. Woodgate, Stephen, and Johan Van Der Veen. The role of fat processing and rendering in the European Union animal production industry. BASE, 2004.

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.