Lard and shortening are two of the most common fats, especially when baking pastries. Like butter, they also have a high fat content, and make the baked goods flaky. While behaving similarly in baking, lard and shortening may differ in some ways. So, what is the difference between lard and shortening in baking?
Lard is made from animal fat (most used Lard is from a pigs fat), while shortening is made from vegetable oils. Baking with lard will give you a rich flavor and a flaky texture. Shortening will also provide a flaky texture but it doesnt taste as strong as lard or butter.
If you want to find out more about these two ancient cooking fats then keep on reading this post!
- Main Differences Between Lard And Shortening
- What is Lard
- What is Shortening
- Related Questions And Other FAQs
- Which is better shortening or lard?
- Can lard and shortening be interchanged?
- Is Crisco and lard the same thing?
- Is lard the same as shortening for cookies?
- Why is lard no longer used?
- Which is better in baking lard or Crisco?
- Why is lard better than Crisco?
- What does lard do to cookies?
- Can I use lard instead of Crisco for cookies?
- What makes better pie crust lard or shortening?
Main Differences Between Lard And Shortening
I want to start by briefly and precisely pointing out the differences. I know most of you just want to find out the straight answer to this question so here you go. Those who are more curious and want to find out more, Ill explain each of these fats thoroughly later.
- Origin. Lard comes from animal sources, shortening comes from various vegetable oil sources. Lard is made from a rendered animals fat. Shortening was originally meant to substitute the animal fat that lard has. Vegetable oils like palm oil, cottonseed, soybean and even avocado are used to make shortening. There are a lot more vegetables that can be used for shortening.
- Taste. Both lard and shortening have a neutral taste.The flavour they add to pastries can be quite different though. Lard coming from animal sources gives off a richer and stronger taste. With shortening, youll get a greasier pastry.
- Health Advantages. Lard is known for its healing abilities. It is a healthy remedy for cuts and burns, applying it speeds up the healing process. People even use it as a refining moisturiser for their skin. Shortening on the other hand, has proven to be bad for your cholesterol and it can cause heart problems.
- Texture. Shortening can be found in liquid, semi solid or solid form. Lard is traditionally in a semi solid form. But, Im sure you can find other kinds in a grocery store. Both fats have a white colour and a thick consistency.
What is Lard
As I said, lard comes from rendered animals fat, most often from a pig. Its one of the most used fats in the kitchen over the years, centuries even. It can be used for sweet and savory dishes. I love using lard when I cook something savory, like pork tacos, grilled vegetables all the way to extra crunchy pie crusts.
Lard has a semi-solid consistency and is made from 100% fat and is actually one of the most nutritious foods in the world. Besides its bad reputation( because of the high cholesterol content), lard is actually not that unhealthy. It is rich in B vitamins and minerals.
A little known fact is that lard is used outside the kitchen doors. From ointment for cuts and burns to skin moisturiser and even moisturiser for your skin ( this is because of the Omega3 fatty acids, Vitamin E and also helps absorbing Vitamin D from the Sun when you put it on your skin).
Please note that not every type of lard is safe for skin use, so make sure you do a little research before using it.
How to Make Lard at Home
The lard you usually find in stores is processed, like any other shelf bought product. So if you have some free time on your hands and pork back fat meat, I highly suggest making your own lard. The recipe I have prepared for you is very easy to make and it will make you a clean batch of unprocessed lard.
- Cut your pork back fat in medium sized chunks (make sure theyre close in size so they cook evenly). Put the chunks of fat in a cooking pan that is a little wider and deeper than a regular frying pan.
- Now, add a couple of tablespoons of water to prevent your meat from sticking to the pan. Dont worry, the water will sizzle off as the fat starts to melt.
- The fat has to be cooked in a low- medium heat so as to not burn off. Because were cooking on low heat, the fat wont immediately start melting, and thats good.
- Stir the pot occasionally to prevent the meat from sticking. After 20 minutes or so, you should finally be able to see the fat being extracted from the pork.
- brown colour.Stir again and leave it on the stove for 40-45 minutes checking on it constantly. After the pork is done, strain your fat with a cheesecloth and collect it in a jar and let it cool off completely. The rendered pork fat should have a light golden
- When the lard has cooled, put a cloth over it and put it in the refrigerator to let the fat solidify.
And there you have it, homemade lard from scratch that will last you for months.
What is Shortening
The name explains it all. Shortening is used in baking for literally shortening the dough. Some recipes (like pie crust or any pastry that crumbles) require the dough not to be elastic and stretchy, but to crumble and keep its shape(opposite of the pizza dough which stretches and can be easily moved ). When using shortening, your dough should look a little denser and stiffer.
So, thats where shortening comes in handy. It melts into the dough and creates a barrier between the gluten molecules, disabling the dough from expanding.
Just like lard, shortening is white, has a semi- solid consistency and melts above room temperature. Its made from hydrogenated vegetable oils which allow the oil to turn into a semi solid form.
What You Should Know about Shortening
- Shortening is very cheap to buy, unlike butter or lard. Thats why most of the neighbourhood bakeries use shortening in their pastries. Shortening is also used in most of the frozen pastries you buy in the market.
- It has a higher shelf life than lard or butter. Butter can last to a month or two which makes it okay for families. Lard lasts for four months. Shortening can last you for up to 8 months. Thats why its a popular choice for commercial use. Be sure to check the expiration date on the container.
- It is higher in fat than butter so it produces a flakier, and more tender pastry. Butter contains only 80% fat, opposed to shortening that is 100% fat. Shortening doesnt require water in the recipe, so there is no steaming process. This allows the pastry to be extra soft and moist.
- Shortening is mostly used in baked goods like cookies, pie crusts, frosting and cakes. It can easily mix and melt into the dough, making the softest cookies you will ever try.
- Shortening is entirely composed of fat. That means that it is full of calories and no nutrients, so please dont consume it in large doses. It is processed , usually made from palm oil (which is one of the most unhealthy oils out there). It can affect your health if consumed on a regular basis. Stay off the frozen baked goods that contain palm oil.
Related Questions And Other FAQs
What Is The Best Substitute For Both Lard and Shortening
The best substitute for both of these fats is definitely butter. If you wish to use something else than butter, try coconut oil or olive oil. I find that baking with butter gives my pastries an extra rich taste.
What Types Of Shortening Are There
There are a few varieties of shortening. A solid, liquid, and a shortening thats made specifically for icing. The liquid shortening is usually used for deep frying or for recipes that require melted oil. The solid one is typically used for making pie crusts, bread, or baked goods (that is how you get the crumbly dough, by using a solid butter stick or shortening)
What Is The Difference Between Shortening And Margarine
This was one of the most asked questions relating to shortening.
Margarine is a dairy-free alternative to butter.It is made from 20 % water and 80%vegetable oil. Also it may have milk.
Margarine is made with oils like canola, corn, soybean, or olive oil.
Shortening is also made from oils like the margarine but it does not content water or milk products. It is a 100% vegetable fat.
What Is The Best Vegan Substitute For Lard In Baking
Coconut oil has given me the best results when baking without animal fats.It stays solid at room temperature and you can treat it the same way you do butter or shortenings. It melts through the pastry and gives it a nice moisture.
Keep in mind that the coconut oil tastes like coconut, so if youre opposed to that, this may not be the choice for you.
You can always buy vegan margarine or vegan butter if you dont want to risk it.
But, as margarine and butter are in solid form, make sure theyre room temperature before using them for baking.
Which is better shortening or lard?
Until recently, it was also thought to be healthier because it contains less saturated fat than butter and lard. However, we now know that highly processed shortening offers no health advantages over butter or lard and may in fact be a less nutritious choice ( 5 , 6 ).
Can lard and shortening be interchanged?
You can generally get away with substituting 1 cup of shortening for 1 cup lard, though you may want to add 2 extra tablespoons to your recipe. Oils are another possible lard substitute. Every type of oil will affect your recipe in different ways because of the fat content.
Is Crisco and lard the same thing?
Lard is actually rendered and clarified pork fat. You can read more here. Crisco®, which is a brand name and part of the Smucker’s family of brands, is a vegetable shortening. That’s the simplest explanation.
Lard is traditionally made from pig fat and can be made from any fatty part of the animal. You can even make it at home by straining the fat from bacon or a pork shoulder! Shortening, on the other hand, is made from hydrogenated vegetables, a process that you can’t exactly do in your kitchen.
Why is lard no longer used?
In the 1950s, scientists piled on, saying that saturated fats in lard caused heart disease. Restaurants and food producers began to avoid fat.
Which is better in baking lard or Crisco?
Lard: Lard typically works best when deep-frying food, baking flaky pie crusts, or making masa dough for tamales. The highest-quality lard for baking is leaf lard made from the fat around pork kidneys. Shortening: Vegetable shortening is, unsurprisingly, a better option for vegetarian and vegan bakers.
Why is lard better than Crisco?
Lard actually has less trans fat than shortening and less saturated fat than butter. While it will never have a health food halo, it certainly doesn’t live up to its bad reputation.
Using lard in cookies creates a different texture (some say sandier) and of course the lard vs. butter in pie crusts is a war that well never be won. In general, lard will often bring a more savory note to your baking (some say ‘piggy’) which can add a nice complexity and depth.
Lard is a perfectly acceptable substitute for shortening in most recipes. Know that lard is an animal product and if you want to eliminate animal fats from your diet, avoid lard. Deep-frying is fine with lard. It has a higher smoke point than butter and will spatter less because it contains less water.
What makes better pie crust lard or shortening?
This one fared slightly better in the test because the lard provided more flavor than the shortening, with just a hint more richness. Still, we were unimpressed by the old-fashioned ingredient’s performance. Pros of Lard Pie Crust: Lard pie crust is a little bit more flavorful than pie crust made with shortening.