Crisco revolutionized the culinary world as the first solid hydrogenated vegetable shortening. Surprisingly, its initial reception was lukewarm, with people hesitating to accept even free samples of the 1½ pound cans. However, Crisco quickly found favor among Orthodox Jews, as it did not contain lard, allowing it to be used in any meal without violating kosher dietary laws.
The turning point for Crisco came during the First World War when shortages of lard led to its commercial success. Despite its solid appearance, Crisco is composed of over 80 percent liquid oil, which is then hydrogenated to appear solid. As it was initially derived from “crystallized cottonseed oil,” that is probably where they go the name.
Crisco has the ability to create a superior pie crust that is flaky and delicate. I always remember it being in the refrigerator when I was growing up, though I don’t see it as often now. But is the fridge the best way to store it? Turns out, no!
How To Store Crisco?
For optimal storage of Crisco shortening, it is recommended to keep it on the pantry shelf!! However, it is not the end of the world if you reside in a warmer climate and choose to refrigerate it. Just note that refrigeration will result in a firmer consistency for shortening and a thicker appearance.
Keep your Crisco in a cool and dry location, away from strong odors, heat, and direct sunlight. When not in use, ensure that the cans are sealed and the sticks are well-wrapped. If proper wrapping is not feasible for the stick, consider utilizing a freezer bag.
Can You Freeze Crisco?
Absolutely! Freezing Crisco shortening cans is absolutely doable. Simply safeguard them by encasing the stick or can in a freezer bag and pop it right into the freezer. Freezing Crisco cans is advisable if you buy them in bulk and won’t use them before the best-by date, as, despite its sturdy appearance, it can spoil over time.
Crisco sticks are a different story. Their shelf life remains the same, whether frozen or not.
How To Defrost Crisco
To defrost shortening, the optimal approach is to place it on a plate and allow gradual thawing in the refrigerator. If time is limited, you may expedite the process by placing it on the kitchen counter to thaw.
How Long Does Crisco Last?
Unopened cans of Crisco can be stored for up to 2 years, whether they’re kept in the pantry, fridge, or freezer.
Once a can is opened, it can last for 6 months in the pantry, and up to a year in both the fridge and the freezer.
Crisco sticks have a shelf life of 6 months, regardless if they’re stored in the pantry, fridge, or freezer. I’m not sure why, but my theory is that the sticks are already exposed to air and therefore more likely to degrade and absorb smells, whereas the unopened cans are much more well protected.
How To Know When Crisco Is Rancid?
When identifying rancid shortening, there are a few key indicators to watch out for. First and foremost, the smell. Rancid shortening typically emits an unpleasant odor resembling old paint, detergent, or nail polish remover. People may describe it using different terms, so if you detect any other unusual smell, chances are it’s also rancid. Crisco should smell super neutral, so any whiff of non-neutrality is a red flag.
Another sign to look out for is a change in color. If your Crisco turns yellow or becomes a few shades darker than its usual appearance, it is likely oxidated and possibly rancid. In such cases, you can try scraping off the thin, yellowy surface and using the rest of the product. However, it’s important to note that this color change indicates the product may not have been properly sealed to begin with, in which case, I would throw it out just to be safe.
While mold is not common for fats and oils, dispose of any shortening that shows signs of mold growth. Mold presence suggests that the product is contaminated and no longer safe for use.
Don’t forget to assess the taste of the shortening. If it looks and smells fine, but you notice an off or unpleasant taste when you sample it, it’s time to say goodbye to that particular batch of Crisco.
Shortening undergoes extensive processing and is generally reserved for making fried foods or pastries laden with excess fat and sugar. Consequently, it is probably best to exercise restraint when it comes to incorporating shortening in your diet.
During previous centuries, dough was traditionally made using lard as the main ingredient for shortening. The term “shortening” stems from its ability to create a crumbly texture, imitating the presence of short fibers. Solid fats hinder the cross-linkage between gluten molecules.
Yes, Crisco is entirely vegan. It contains no animal fat.
During the period of 1911 to 1923, Crisco gained popularity as it was perceived as a cost-efficient and comparatively “pure” substitute for animal fat and butter. It remained popular in the 80s and 90s as it was considered a healthier alternative to saturated fats such as lard. But, nowadays, people are moving more towards diets including moderate saturated fat from natural sources rather than refined hydrogenated vegetable oil.
Crisco is made from hydrogenated vegetable oils, initially mostly cottonseed oil. It was originally thought of as a cotton production waste product. Did you know that cottonseed oil was used as lamp oil for decades? But with electricity taking over, I guess they needed to find a new use for it!