Standard Article

Shortenings: Science and Technology

  1. Douglas J. Metzroth

Published Online: 15 JUL 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047167849X.bio044

Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products

Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products

How to Cite

Metzroth, D. J. 2005. Shortenings: Science and Technology. Bailey's Industrial Oil and Fat Products. 4:3.

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JUL 2005


Shortening is commercially prepared edible fat used in frying, cooking, baking, and as an ingredient in fillings, icings, and confectionary items. It may have been named so because when dough is mixed, water-soluble fat prevents cohesion of gluten strands, literally shortening them and thus generating tender baked goods. Shortening is typically a 100% fat product formulated with animal and/or vegetable oil. These oils have been processed for functionality (describes how well a product performs in a certain application), and to remove any undesirable flavor and aroma. Overall, shortening improves the texture and palatability of food products. Products with characteristics similar to shortening are discussed in this article, but only when similarities in raw material, usage, production methods, and equipment are similar to those of shortenings.

Formulations include concerns about crystalline nature of the fats, fatty acid distribution, fractionation, hydrogenation, and interesterification. Manufacturing and processing equipment are detailed. The many forms of shortenings, i.e., solid, liquid, high stability, all purpose, pourable, and special formulations, are discussed. Packaging and storage of the final products are presented.


  • shortening;
  • functionality;
  • solid fat profiles;
  • plastic theory;
  • formulations;
  • equipment;
  • crystallization;
  • supercooling;
  • quality control;
  • packaging;
  • storage;
  • automation