Palm oil and palm shortening are sometimes used interchangeably for the secret ingredient that forms the base of most products we consume. But what are their differences, and can you use one instead of the other?
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Palm shortening is a semisolid fat made from palm oil, which comes from the tropical palm tree. The most significant difference between them is that with palm shortening, some of the unsaturated fats are removed from the palm oil to make it a more stable and thick texture for all baked products.
What is palm shortening?
Palm shortening is a popular and versatile ingredient free from trans-fat.
It originated in the USA and was introduced to replace lard in baked products. The word shortening is derived from short, which means “tender.” Shortening works as a tenderizer that adds softness to the baked products by cutting down gluten strands.
Obtained by removing some saturated fats from palm oil. Palm shortening may be solid, liquid-based, and has a high melting point and a firm texture. It does not contain trans fat because it is not hydrogenated. Nor does it not get rancid quickly and, it has a very long shelf life.
Palm shortening is a vegetarian semisolid fat widely used in baking, cooking, and most processed foods. But also a necessary ingredient in the beauty industry and is an essential component of soaps, shampoos, lotions, and make-up products.
What Is The Difference Between Palm Shortening And Palm Oil?
Palm oil comes from the tropical palm tree. It has a semi-soft texture; it turns into a liquid at a warm temperature and separates upon heating. The more substantial part is made of the saturated stearic acid, which is more stable to temperature. Palm oil also contains monounsaturated fatty acids and some fat-soluble vitamins.
On the other hand, palm shortening is the unsaturated fat removed from the palm oil to make a shortening from it. The homogenized palm, also called the palm shortening, is processed to give it a good solid texture to not separate. Antioxidants and emulsifiers are sometimes added to the shortening. Palm shortening is high in saturated fatty acid but free from trans fats.
Can I use palm oil instead of palm shortening?
Before we chose to replace palm shortening with palm oil, we need to check its chemistry. Oil from a palm tree has a high concentration of saturated fatty acid called palmitic acid (from where its name PALM is derived). It also contains monounsaturated oleic acid and other fatty acids.
The palmitic acid in the palm oil settles at the bottom as it is solid at room temperature, whereas the oleic and other fatty acids that are liquid at room temperature remain at the top.
The chemical composition of palm oil and palm shortening is the same – but the actual difference is that the palm shortening is homogenized. It means that all the different types of fatty acids present in the palm oil are blended well through homogenization to make the palm shortening.
Suppose you are using palm oil instead of palm shortening. In that case, you will see that the substantial part of oil clusters at the bottom while the liquid part remains on top if you consume the liquid amount first and then come to the significant role of whatever you are making it with.
The batches will differ in properties because the first batches will have oleic acids, whereas the latter will be composed of palmitic acid.
You can use palm oil instead of palm shortening to blend the oil well before adding it to your product. This step is essential to obtain a consistent product each time.
Is palm Shortening bad for you?
High saturated oils such as palm or kernel oil (also known as tropical oils) have been linked to heart disease. However, since shortening palm is mostly free from trans fat, it is considered less risky. Saturated fat boosts “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, both of which are risk factors for heart disease. This, of course, the case when you’d use it in baking products, for beauty products and soaps or candles, there is no problem.
What can I use in place of palm oil shortening?
Suppose palm shortening is not available or you don’t want to use it in your product. In that case, you may use any other following substitute:
Coconut oil has a semisolid texture at room temperature, similar to that of palm shortening. Coconut is considered one of the healthiest oil and can be used to bake, cook, or make cosmetics. However, coconut imparts a nutty and mildly sweet flavor to the product.
Butter is also semisolid at room temperature. It is mostly made from the milk of cows, sheep, and goats. Butter is composed of 85% fat and 15% water and gives a very soft texture to baked products. Therefore, its quantity should be adjusted when used in place of palm oil.
If you prefer non-dairy fats, then margarine is a better substitute for butter. It is made of hydrogenated vegetable oils and is semisolid at room temperature. It also gives a very soft and fluffy texture when used for baking.
If you don’t wish to use any of the above because you are a vegetarian or have food allergies, or are health conscious, your last option can be any vegetable oils. You can use canola oil, olive oil, or corn oil in formulating your products after adjusting the quantity.
How do you make palm oil shortening?
Palm shortening is made from palm oil in the following steps:
The palm oil is heated to 60 – 70 degree centigrade in a large vessel and stirred continuously to ensure even heating.
Emulsifiers such as mono and di-glycerides are first dissolved in a small amount of oil (does not have to be warm) before adding them to the large vessel. This mixture is then poured into the larger container stirring it continuously at a temperature between 50 – 60 degrees centigrade.
Then the mixture is pumped through a heat exchanger with a scraped surface where it cools and crystallizes. Here you should maintain the temperature at 17 to 20 degrees centigrade.
It is passed through a B-unit for further crystallization, where it continues to crystallize until it reaches the desired crystallization level. A semi-fluid shortening is collected at the end of the B unit, where the temperature is maintained at 25 – 30 degrees centigrade.
The product is tempered at this temperature for 24 hours. Quality control parameters like texture and thickening are accessed for the type of intended use. Then the product is moved for packaging.
From pastry to shampoo, most of your grocery list items have palm shortening in any form. Palm shortening is an essential ingredient in most food and beauty products. It does not require hydrogenation and has a nice semisolid creamy texture. The cherry on the top is available at reasonable prices. If palm shortening is not available, you can use palm oil but blending to give your product a similar creamy texture.