Good Product: Spectrum Organic Natural Shortening

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

When hydrogenated oils and trans fats began to be suspected as very, very bad things, I pitched all my vegetable shortening. It would seem that butter is better after all – in moderation, at least.

But butter doesn’t work as well as vegetable shortening in all recipes. Pie crusts can be lighter and flakier with a ration of shortening, and butter spoils pure white frosting with a yellowed tint. And of course, if you are vegan or avoiding animal fats, butter doesn’t work at all. This is where an organic natural shortening can add another dimension to your baking.

The health differences between this shortening, which is made from palm oil, and butter are marginal – both are high in saturated fat. But it’s free of hydrogenated oils and trans fats, as well as dairy, soy, and cholesterol, and it’s certified kosher too.

A friend recently moved out of town and cleaned out her pantry, and she left me with a big tub of this product. At first I thought I’d never use it. But now it’s gone into white buttercream frostings, moist sugar cookies and greasing cake pans. It’s very useful for the holiday baking where butter won’t do. All in moderation, of course.

(Do make sure to check out Melissa Clark’s incredibly exhaustive pie crust testing of shortening, butter, suet and many other kinds of fat, animal and otherwise, in the New York Times Dining section today!)

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