What is vegetable shortening?

Updated April 17, 2017

Vegetable shortening, used for greasing, cooking, grilling and baking, is found in many households around the world. However, many people aren't actually aware of the contents of the white substance. Here are the basics of vegetable shortening.


In 1911, Procter & Gamble noted how hydrogenation could be applied to foods. Using unwanted seeds from cotton mills, P&G manufactured a vegetable fat out of cottonseed oil. It quickly replaced lard in many U.S. homes.


Vegetable shortening is made of soybean oil, cottonseed oil, monoglycerides, diglycerides and citric acids.


Vegetable shortening has a bland and neutral flavour; it is essentially tasteless.


Shortening is used in recipes that call for fats such as butter, lard or margarine. It blends well with flour, making useful in pastry making. It is also useful for greasing pans before use.

Shelf Life

One of the most appealing aspects of vegetable shortening is its shelf life, which can run up to a year at room temperature.

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About the Author

Jack Stone, a 25-year-old freelance writer, has been writing professionally since 2009 for sites such as eHow, Golflink and Trails. He holds a Bachelor of Theology from Ozark Christian College, a certificate to teach English to speakers of other languages from Biola University and a Masters of Arts degree from Wheaton College.