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post #1 of 32
Thread Starter 
What the **** is shortening?

How can I make, or acquire this?
post #2 of 32
Any kind of fat you put in a something made of flour. For example, oil is the shortening in cake, or lard in tortillas.
post #3 of 32
Thread Starter 
So, what is the ideal shortening for making soft tortillas/ flatbreads?
post #4 of 32
What kind of flatbreads? Naan, prata, injera, pita? For tortillas I would say lard.
post #5 of 32
While Kuan is right, if you are reading a recipe from the US, geared towards the home, then it probably refers to hydrogenated oil (oil that has been altered to make it a solid at home temp.) But, as Kuan, states "shortening" can really refer to a number of different products, all depending of the application.
post #6 of 32
Thread Starter 
Yes, it's a US recipe for tortillas.

Am basically trying to make "wraps" for meat. Tried crepes but they weren't strong enough, the meat broke through.
post #7 of 32

right the oil they sell soo cheap this days and it bubles like ****. Well we kicked it out of the kitchen and we use an old traditional oil with a high smoking point and respect the rules, when the deep fat fryer is not in use we lower the temperature half. At the end of the day we clean (filter the oil), and when the oil turns brownish we simply change it. Well cost control vise, i just add 10% of oil cost for the volume of the main ingredient i deep fat fry. Well at least i know some how my oil is paid by the customer.

post #8 of 32
Hey good idea. Why didn't I think of that before? Pretty obvious isn't it?
post #9 of 32
Chef Kaiser, while I somewhat agree with your assement of cheap oils for use in deep fat frying, I was discussing the term shortening in terms of solid fats used in cooking, more specifically baking. While shortening does get a bad wrap nowadays, my grandmother swore by the stuff for her pie crusts, after she gave up lard. She would never use butter, and her pie crusts were some of the most tender, flaky crusts I have ever eaten. She would put most pastry chefs, here and abroad, to shame!
post #10 of 32
Infidel, it may help to understand the term and what it means.

You may know that when a liquid (but not oil) is added to flour, gluten forms. Depending on various factors, the gluten strands get longer and tougher the more the dough is worked. Shortening literally helps to keep the gluten strands short and prevents the end product from being tough. Any kind of fat - butter, oil, lard, solid vegetable oil (Crisco), does the job. Traditionally Lard is used for tortillas but the store bought lard these days is hydrogenated and if you have a problem with that your only recourse is to render your own. I've never done it but someone else here might be able to offer advice on that.

post #11 of 32

out here they are selling cheap forms of shortening for frying , and when you use them for frying it bubbles like when adding liquid soap into water. I have done some tests on it and the live span is nearly have of regular frying oil only.

post #12 of 32
Thread Starter 

Still Confused

So, were I to search hard I may find a shortening product for sale here.

Otherwise I should use lard for my tortillas. Or, could I make a healthier alternative with other ingredients? One of the recipes I was reading suggested using "shortening instead of lard" so I assume they are fairly different. And using lard seems so barbaricly unhealthy...

I live in Bangkok so not always easy to find things.
post #13 of 32

i understand you, living in Asia is a step away of what they are recommending. As at times we get products here which are truley second hand, eventhough it is imported, just made for Asia i suppose.

just use lard first and dont eat it every day untill we find an alternative here in Asia. send me your recipe, will look at it.


look up this site http: //www.public.iastate.edu/~rjsalvad/scmfaq/tortilla.html it seems he knows how to make them
post #14 of 32
Can't you use rice paper wrappers for wraps like they use in Vietnam?
post #15 of 32
You mentioned in earlier posts you were looking at a US recipe. I think it's safe to assume the writer had Crisco or some thing like it in mind. It's true that lard is traditional and shortening is the most common alternative but I recomend you use neither. Why would you want to use anything you think is "barbaricly unhealthly"? In the early 20th century Crisco was marketed as more civilized and healthy than lard but I doubt it's either one.

Luckily tortillas are quick and easy to experiment with. Try a 1/2 cup flour with a half tablespoon of whatever fat or oil you're comfortable with. Add a good pinch of salt. If baking powder is handy add a good pinch; if not, skip it. Stir in a couple tablespoons of water (just enough to form a dough).

I don't think you can learn to make tortillas by reading about them. It's nice if you have a friendly Mexican or Texican lady to show you how but mainly you have get your fingers in the dough (masa).

Let us know how it turned out.
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 
Kaiser- these were the recipes I was looking at. Am no chef, just a home-cook who gets hungry late at night.


Not sure if they're good recipes or not, but that same site yielded me some killer crepes and yummy pikelets.

Kuan- Don't think rice-paper would be thick enough, I wanna stuff these bastards full of meat and chilis.

Skilletlicker- Great username. Crisco sounds like an interesting product and we do get a lot of imported goods here, so will look for it. I already have Canola and Olive oils, perhaps one of these would work. Thanks for the recipe. I have baking powder.

Will stop asking dumb questions now, burn one, and then get to work on my tortilla dough experimentation.
post #17 of 32
I disagree that lard is "barbaricaly unhealthy". It really isn't that much more unhealthy then any other fats. There is even major concerns now about about the artificial fats such as margarine, solid "shortening" etc. They are finding that they are as unhealthy as butter and lard. The key is moderation. A few tortillas, containing a few grams of lard, now and then is not that unhealthy. Besides, there is a world of difference, in taste, between tortillas made with lard and tortillas made with other fats. I really prefer the tortillas made with lard.

And, Infidel, no question is ever dumb. We are always here to help with any cooking question you might have, whether it is complicated or simple.
post #18 of 32
Thread Starter 
Yeah, you're right. I needn't worry about a lickle bit of lard, and it'll be much easier to find than ******* shortening.

Considering all the other unhealthy pastimes I have the last thing I should be concerned with is my tortilla's fat content.

Thank you for all the advice. I like this forum, and so much less fighting than in other forums where I post.
post #19 of 32
Actually, and surprisingly, lard is better for you than either shortening or butter. It has fewer saturated fats than butter, and about the same level of cholesterol. However, it has fewer of the properties that cause your body to produce more of the bad cholesterol in response to digesting it than either shortening (really, really high levels of bad cholesterol producers) or butter.

I'm not suggesting you go out and eat a pound of lard for lunch, just don't freak out if you find it as an ingredient in some foods.
Try making flakey pastry dough with it instead of Crisco or butter. Work's great, makes the flakiest dough, and lends better flavor!


Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!



Liquored up and laquered down,
She's got the biggest hair in town!

post #20 of 32
I think lard has just gotten a bad reputation...much like Crisco has as well. People are throwing these (and many more ingredients) under the train. Setting aside the fact that when they buy pre-made pie crusts (and other foods), They seem to have NO regard of the ingredients or what goes into the "food" they're buying.

Quality (where I live at least) seems to take a back seat to what is popular. I'd much rather eat a nicely prepared dinner with quality ingredients which may include some lard, bacon drippings, duck fat or ??? instead of some prepared meal from the grocery store. I look at it as a form follows function thing. Good food will follow good ingredients. But through marketing campaigns and ease of use...good food does not always follow the current trends in home cooking (or restaurant cooking)

have a nice day :)
post #21 of 32
I make flour tortillas with lard, but have also used shortening (Crisco), bacon grease, soybean, corn and canola oil.
Infidel, It's OK use lard, it's also OK to abstain.
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
post #22 of 32
The most popular brand of lard here in the Bay Area is called Manteca and it, like Crisco, is partially hydrogenated. And we all know that regardless of any other quality the fat may have, hydrogenated fats are really bad. I avoid them as much as possible.
This is no help to Infidel out there in Bangkok but Whole Foods and other health food stores sell a non hydrogenated shortening made by a company called Spectrum. It looks like Crisco but has a slightly less creamy texture. Works for me!

post #23 of 32

Shortening is a solid vegetable fat....

Like Crisco (which is just a trade name)

I've found Crisco in Japan, Guatemala and Australia...

It doesn't behave like oil in a recipe.

Lard in a naan, flatbread or tortilla recipe would be my second choice.

You can't use oil in a recipe calling for shortening.

It just doesn't work.

I'm certain that somewhere in Bankok there is an establishment that carries something similar.

post #24 of 32
Thread Starter 
I came across a tub of Crisco here today. Seems I can find pretty much everything in Bangkok now (plus a lot of "interesting" stuff that's not available elsewhere).

I no longer fear lard so will try that in the future. I eat and drink all sorts of fattening crap, foie-gras, scotch, brownies, etc, so it'd be foolish to worry about a little lard in my tortilla mixture.

All I need now is a rolling-pin and it's tortilla time.

Thank you all.
post #25 of 32
Rolling pins work fine, but if you are planning on making them often, you should look into buying a tortilla press. You can find them through the internet and are usually pretty cheap.
post #26 of 32
Thanks to Infidel for starting this conversation. It’s caused me to experiment a little and to my surprise I’ve discovered that not withstanding AprilB’s assertion that it just won’t work, I prefer tortillas made with white whole wheat flour and extra virgin olive oil to my old AP and lard variety.
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
post #27 of 32
Thread Starter 
Peter- I don't need a tortilla press.

This is just an odd phase I'm going through. I'll probably make them once or twice then forget all about them.

Skilletlicker- What is AP?
post #28 of 32
Sorry, I meant all-purpose flour.

By the way you said earlier;To my way of thinking,healthier tortillas make it OK to drink more scotch.;)
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
just an old guy learning to live off his own cooking
post #29 of 32
Thread Starter 
That's for sure!

post #30 of 32
Scotch with tortillas? Are you a barbarian????:eek: :D :D :eek: The only thing to drink with tortillas is a great tequila like Patron or Don Juilo, or maybe a good mexican beer like Dos XX or Negro Modelo!;) ;)
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