When it comes to cooking and baking, choosing the right ingredients can make all the difference in the taste and texture of your dishes. Two commonly used ingredients are shortening and palm oil. But which one should you use?
In this article, I’ll explore the differences between shortening and palm oil, how to cook with them, their nutritional aspects, storage tips, and finally, make a decision on which is better suited for your needs!
Comparing shortening vs palm oil
|Shortening||Palm oil/Red palm oil|
|Solid or Liquid?||Solid||Semi solid|
|Smoke Point (Fahrenheit)||360 degrees||450 degrees|
|Good for Cooking…||Raw, low heat, moderate heat||Raw, low, moderate, and high heat|
|Allergens||Depends on ingredients||Oil palm fruit|
|Paleo?||Palm shortening only||Yes|
Differences between shortening vs palm oil
Shortening is a solid fat made from hydrogenated vegetable oil, typically soybean, cottonseed, or palm oil. The process of hydrogenation makes oils more stable and solid, so shortening has a solid texture at room temperature. This makes it suitable for baking applications where a solid fat is required.
On the other hand, palm oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fruit of the oil palm tree. It is one of the most widely used vegetable oils globally due to its versatility. Palm oil, in its natural form, is semi-solid at room temperature but can be further processed to obtain a solid consistency known as palm oil shortening.
Baking and cooking with shortening vs palm oil
When cooking with shortening, it can be a great substitute for butter or oil. It has a higher smoke point than butter, so it’s suitable for frying and sautéing at higher temperatures.
Another advantage of shortening is its mild flavor, making it a versatile option for both savory and sweet recipes. In baking, shortening adds tenderness and moisture, which is why it’s often used in flaky pie crusts, biscuits, and pastries.
Now, let’s move on to baking with palm oil! Palm oil can be a substitute for other vegetable oils or fats in baking. Keep in mind that palm oil has a reddish-orange color due to its natural carotenoids, which can affect the color of your baked goods, especially lighter ones. If you prefer a neutral color, you can opt for refined palm oil, also known as “white palm oil,” which has the color removed.
However, the flavor of palm oil is relatively mild and shouldn’t significantly alter the taste of your baked goods. In terms of texture, palm oil contributes to moist and tender results in baking, making it great for cakes, cookies, and bread.
Palm oil also has a higher smoke point than shortening, making it suitable for various cooking methods such as frying, sautéing, stir-frying, and deep-frying.
Can shortening and palm oil be substituted for each other?
Shortening and palm oil can be used as substitutes for each other in certain recipes, but there may be some differences in consistency and texture.
Shortening is a solid fat, while palm oil is a semi-solid fat. When substituting shortening with palm oil, the texture of the final product may be affected.
Shortening tends to create a tender and flaky texture, especially in baked goods like pie crusts or biscuits. Palm oil, on the other hand, can result in a slightly different texture, potentially yielding a softer or greasier outcome.
Additionally, palm oil has a more distinct flavor that may alter the taste of the recipe.
In general, it’s best to follow a recipe that specifically calls for either shortening or palm oil. However, if you need to substitute one for the other, you can experiment with small batches and adjust the recipe as needed to achieve the desired results.
Nutrition: Shortening vs palm oil
In terms of nutrition, both shortening and palm oil contain high amounts of saturated fat. But shortening has more monounsaturated fats and fewer calories, while palm oil is predominantly saturated fat with more calories.
Shortening, being a hydrogenated fat, contains trans fats, which are considered less healthy. The exact amount depends on the brand, but it can be high. It also contains cholesterol, whereas palm oil is typically cholesterol and trans fat-free. Palm oil also contains natural antioxidants, such as vitamin E and beta-carotene.
While moderate consumption of both can be part of a balanced diet, it’s best to limit intake due to their high saturated fat content.
|Per tablespoon (15mL)||Shortening||Palm oil/Red palm oil|
|Polyunsaturated||2.5 g||1.2 g|
|Monounsaturated||5.2 g||5.0 g|
|Saturated||4.6 g||6.7 g|
|Trans||0 g||0 g|
|Total Fat||12.8 g||13.6 g|
The primary fat source is bolded.
How to store shortening and palm oil
For shortening, it’s best to store it in a cool, dark place away from direct sunlight and heat sources. A pantry or cupboard works perfectly. Make sure to tightly seal the container to prevent exposure to air, as it can lead to oxidation and rancidity. If your kitchen tends to get warm, pop it in the refrigerator to help to further slow down the oxidation process.
As for palm oil, it has a naturally longer shelf life compared to shortening, so you can store it at room temperature. Just be sure to keep it in a cool and dark location. Remember to check for any signs of rancidity or off odors before using either ingredient in your delicious recipes!
Shortening vs palm oil: Which is better
In conclusion, while both shortening and palm oil have their uses, I believe that shortening is the better option due to its versatility, neutral flavor, buttery texture, and arguably superior nutritional profile. However, it’s important to remember that moderation is key when using any oil or fat, including shortening, to maintain a well-rounded and healthy diet!
No, they are not the same. Palm oil is a vegetable oil derived from the fruit of oil palm trees, while palm shortening is a solid fat made from hydrogenated palm oil.
Yes, palm oil is commonly used as one of the vegetable oils in the production of shortening. However, shortening can also be made from other vegetable oils, such as soybean or cottonseed oil.
Palm oil shortening, like other forms of shortening, contains high amounts of saturated fat. While it can be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet, it is best to limit its consumption due to the potential health risks associated with high saturated fat intake.