Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Because I'm too lazy to look it up on

Why is shortening called shortening? What, if anything, does it shorten?


4 Talked Back:

At March 12, 2008 at 10:54:00 PM CDT, Blogger Amber said...

It's because shortening, like other fats, is able to shorten the gluten strands that form when water is added to flour and the resulting mixture is agitated (as in kneading or mixing). A shorter, weaker gluten strand and gluten matrix results in more flakiness and tenderness, which is desirable in pie crusts and pastries, for which shortening is most often used.


At March 12, 2008 at 11:57:00 PM CDT, Blogger stan said...

I went to high school with a kid who looked like he put shortening in his hair every morning. He never got any shorter.


At March 14, 2008 at 12:32:00 AM CDT, Blogger Jim said...

Amber is correct but the understanding that shortening inhibits the formation of long protein (gluten) strands came much later than the origins of the term, it's just coincidental.

Butter, lard, and margarine are called shortening because they promote a "short" or crumbly texture -- as in shortbread.


At March 17, 2008 at 12:29:00 PM CDT, Blogger Nicole said...

Doesn't it shorten your life expectancy? Or at least the amount of time before you experience your first heart attack?


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