The secret to a flaky pie crust, stable icing, and well-formed baked good lies on the kind of fat you add to your mixture. That’s the magic of shortening.
In bread baking, mixing ingredients to make a dough will allow the flour’s gluten strands to stretch and form a matrix. This is the reason why your bread is stretchy and chewy.
Shortening is any kind of fat that is solid at room temperature. Incorporating shortening into your dough mixture will coat the gluten strands to “shorten” lengthening to form a tough matrix. With this, you get a dough that is short, crumbly, tender, or flaky. All types of solid fats can shorten your dough. Shortenings basically are used to give pastries, cakes and bread flakey and light.
As for your frosting and icings, it takes longer for shortening to melt because of its high melting point. Shortening will be the best ingredient to use for frosting as it doesn’t run down quickly and it can even hold its shape in hot weather. Moreover, shortening makes your icings light and fluffy.
Oils are liquid in nature. To increase its shelf life and stability, it has to undergo a process called hydrogenation. That’s how most shortenings are made. The hydrogenation process adds extra hydrogen atoms to the liquid oil and transforms it into solids state. With this, you’ll have partially hydrogenated fat with trans fatty acids. One downside about partially hydrogenated fats is that it contains trans-fats which is not healthy for the heart in the long run.
One of the common shortenings used for these products is palm shortening.
Palm shortening is not hydrogenated like vegetable shortening. Hence, it does not have trans-fats that can increase your risk of acquiring Coronary Heart Diseases (CHD). Instead, palm shortening contains monounsaturated fatty acids which are helpful for your heart health. Palm shortening has a high freezing point and it can be stored for a long period of time. It is also considered as one of the best kind of fat to use in many recipes because it is colorless and odorless, and it barely changes the taste, smell, and color of your dish.
Aside from running out of palm shortening in the kitchen, some people have their own reasons why they choose not to buy or use palm shortening. For instance, others avoid buying palm shortening because of the environmental concerns related to it. Paleo dieters often frown at the use Palm producers wipe off forests and replace it with palm plantation to keep up with the global demand for palm products.
Besides the environmental issues involved, palm shortening is not always easy to find, and it’s even more expensive compared to other kinds of shortening.
Whatever concerns you have, you can find accessible alternatives for palm shortening. Hear us out and see which among the options we will be sharing to you would be good enough for your recipe.
5 Best Substitutes for palm shortening
Lard, made from pork fat, is a type of fat that is solid in room temperature.
Primarily, lard is used in cooking savory dishes, but it is also a good shortening substitute for baking. You can use lard to substitute palm shortening if:
- You are cooking eggs
- You want a fat for roasting your chicken
- You are going to roast some vegetables
- You are serving pork dishes
- You are baking
The smell of pork fat is one of the secrets of making a good pie crust.
It is a fact that commercialized fat usually contains trans-fat. To avoid this component, you can make homemade lard! Homemade lard is a better option, and it’s even tastier than the ones that are commercially processed. However, that doesn’t mean your health is spared from making lard at home, and you can consume more fatty foods. Lard is high in saturated fats and cholesterol. Remember, too much intake of fat can lead to certain heart diseases.
2. Coconut oil
Coconuts are popular in south-east Asian countries. One of the leading products the coconut offers is coconut oil. The oil obtained from the flesh of mature coconuts is believed to be the best substitute for palm shortening.
If you’re looking for a healthy palm shortening substitute, coconut oil is for you. Coconut oil brings a lot of health benefit, and it is widely marketed as a superfood. It is beneficial to your health because it is high in medium-chain triglycerides, rich in good cholesterol (High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol), antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
Coconut oil has two types: Virgin coconut oil and refined coconut oil. Pure and unrefined coconut oil that has been cold-pressed and extracted without the use of solvents is virgin coconut oil. Refined coconut oil is a common supermarket item which undergoes commercial processing with the addition of preservatives.
Coconut oil contains concentrated fat. This makes an edible oil that can withstand high heat. Culinarily, coconut oil is tasty dishes that involve sautéing and stir-frying.
So, when is the time you are going to use coconut oil to replace your palm shortening? To mention a few, you can apply coconut oil for:
- Baking delicious treats
- Cooking curries, stews, stir-fry and saute dishes
- Making smoothies and desserts
- Adding to sauces, dressings, and marinades
If you got butter in the fridge, don’t hesitate to use it to replace palm shortening. Butter is processed from milk produced by cows, sheep, and goats containing fat and protein components. At room temperature, butter is semi-solid. This is perfect as spreads, and a condiment for baking, pan-frying, and sauce making. Butter will make your goodies more flavorful compared to the rest of the shortening.
Expect that using butter will make your final product such as cakes and bread softer because its fat content is not as high as other shortenings. Butter is 85% fat and 15% water. The amount of butter you are going to use as a substitute is the same amount of palm shortening your recipe calls for.
Butter is best used for:
- Soft cakes
- Soft bread
- Pie crusts
- Pan-fry dishes
When there’s no palm shortening to find, and you can’t use butter because you’re intolerant, maybe margarine can do the job. Margarine is actually more of a butter substitute. It is a fat that is similar to butter only that it is a non-dairy product made from an emulsion of vegetable and/or animal oil. Margarine is best used for baked goods as it improves the flavor and mouthfeel.
Margarine seemingly tastes like butter, and it’s a cheaper fat option compared to other shortenings. You can use margarine if you are preparing:
- Fish dishes
- Puff pastries
- Hard puffs
5. Other Plant-based oils
You can use liquid plant-based oils to substitute palm shortening.
1. Canola oil
Canola oil is one of the versatile vegetable cooking oils derived from a variety of rapeseed. This oil has a smooth texture and light flavor. Use this oil if you are preparing dishes that involve sauteing, stir-frying, grilling, and baling.
2. Olive oil
Olive oil comes from the fruit and seeds of the olive tree. This oil is known for its beneficial properties for people with heart disease, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia. Olive oil is commonly used for cooking, and some use it for making pizza crust.
3. Corn oil
Derived from corn, corn oil is a widely available fat that is popular in the culinary world. Corn oil is best for frying, and sauteing dishes, and it can be used as a shortening substitute for baking cakes, bread, and other bakery products.
One of the best things about shortening is that it gives flavor, texture, and mouthfeel to many baked goods and dishes. Palm shortening is more expensive compared to other types of shortening, and there is a worldwide environmental concern linked to the consumption of this shortening.
The substitutes for palm shortening are easily accessible in grocery stores. You can choose either coconut oil, lard, butter or margarine. The choice is yours to explore and may the best shortening win!
✔Choose coconut oil if you want a healthy fat substitute for palm shortening.
✔Go for butter if you’re after for soft bread, cakes, and pies, and a flavorful dish.
✔Try margarine if ever butter won’t work for you because you are lactose
✔Use lard if you want to have a flavorful and appetizing dish and a pie with a
Remember, these are all sources of fat. No matter how healthy the other ingredient is to the other, it can still impose a health consequence. Always bear in mind that anything that is consumed in excess is bad for your health.