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  • vegetable shortening

  • What is shortening?
    Shortening is fat used for cooking. It can be made from animal, vegetable or compound manufactured substances. Margarine and Crisco are examples of manufactured shortening products.

    What is the function of shortening?
    "Shorteners make baked goods tender and moist. This occurs when the shortener (butter, oil, hydrogenated shortening, or lard) is incorporated into the batter. The fat tends to surround the flour and the other ingredients, breaking the long strands of gluten in the batter or dough into shorter units--hence the term "shorteners." The way in which the fat is incorporated will affect the item's overall texture. Fats that are rubbed or rolled into doughs tend to separate the dough into large layers, creating a flaky texture. When the fat is thoroughly creamed together with sugar so that it can be mixed evenly throughout the batter, the resulting item's texture will be more cake-like and tender. Fat also helps to retain moisture in the finished product. In addition to the fats and oils commonly considered shorteners, egg yolks, soft cheeses, cream, and milk may also fall into this category because they contain a relatively high percentage of fat."
    ---The New Professional Chef, Culinary Institute of America, 6th edition [Van Nostrand Reinhold:New York] 1996 (p. 376)

    Why call it shortening?
    According to the Oxford English Dictionary, "Short" (definition 20) denotes "Of edible substances: Friable, easily crumbled." The word first surfaces in the first half of the 18th century. The word shortening, in the current understanding, is American. Amelia Simmons [American Cookery 1796] mentions (without defining) shortening in her recipe for
    Johnny Cake, or Hoe Cake "Scald 1 pint of milk and put to 3 pints of indian meal, and half pint of flower--bake before the fire. Or scald with milk two thirds of the indian meal, or wet two thirds with boiling water, add salt, molasses and shortening, work up with cold water pretty stiff, and bake as above."

    Purpose, classifications & effects of specific shortenings used to make baked goods
    I. Definition and Description

    Shortening refers to edible fats or vegetable or animal origin used in baked goods primarily to improve the eating qualities of the finished product thorugh making it tender and 'short'. There is a variety of shortenings available. These differ mainly in their origin, flavor, and consistency. With the exception of butter, lard and margarine, practically all shortenings preferable for bakery products are practically neutral in flavor. Fats which are liquid at ordinary room temperatures are usually termed oils. The types of shortenings generally used in cake making are solid at room temperature. Some, however, possess a higher melting point and are harder than others. The modern manufacturer of shortening aims to produce a shortening of the desired plasticity or degree of hardness best suited to the needs of the average cake baker.

    II. Classification of Shortenings
    Shortenings may be conveniently and briefly classified in three groups: Animal, vegetable, and compound shortenings.
    A. Animal Shortenings
    As the name implies, animal shortenings are of animal origin. Although little used in cake making, one of the best known shortenings in this group is lard which is produced from selected fat of the hog through a process known as 'rendering'. Butter, of course, needs no introduciton. It is the fat of milk, separated from milk or cream by churning and contains also a small amount of other milk constituents.
    B. Vegetable Shortenings
    Among the shortenings of vegetable origin we have the well known hydrogentated fats, which ar solid and semi-solid shortenings produced by the proper treating of certain vegetable oil with hydrogen. Through this process, a fat of practically any desired degree of hardiness may be secured. A high degree of perfection has been reached in the manufacture of hydrogenated shortenings which are very popular for cake work, and which possess excellent qualities.
    C. Compound Shortenings
    Compounds, as the name signifies, represent that group of shortenings made by compounding of blending a vegetable oil with a hard fat in proper proportions so as to give a resulting product of desirable consistency similar to that of lard. Margarine, sometimes called 'artificial butter', is a mixture of fats, usually refined oleo oil churned in with some butter, neutral lard, and milk. Sometimes, vegetable oils, such as cottonseed oil, are also used. Cocoanut oil is often used in the preparation of various kinds of so-called 'nut butter' or 'nut margarine'.

    III. Functions of Shortening in Cake Making
    A. Improved Eating Qualities

    Shortening, being a form of fat, does not dissolve in the liquid of the cake batter. It is merely mixed mechanically in with the other ingredients and is spread out uniformly in the form of fine films surrounding the other ingredients of the batter or dispersed through the cake mixture when present in a limited quantity. When the cake is baked and cooled, this results in the creation of that tender, soft characteristic of the crumb which is so desirable in most kinds of cake and which is commonly termed shortness. Naturally, shortening imparts 'richness' to the eating quality of the cake.
    B. Production Of Volume
    With exception of Angel Food and some types of Sponge Cake in which no shortening is used, the judicious use of shortening in most other types of cake aids materially in the creation of the desired volume, grain, and texture. This action of shortening has been explained previously under the subject of 'Leafening by Creaming.'
    C. Enhanced Freshness
    The shortening which is uniformly distributed throughout the mix mass of cake ingredients coats each tiny particle, thus imparting to the curmb of the finished product a long lasting softness. This means that the cake will retain its characteristic of freshness for a longer period.

    IV. Important Characteristics of Shortening
    A. Color

    For white cakes, the absence of color in the shortening employed is considered desirable, so that the color of crumb of the finished cake will not be adversely influenced.
    B. Flavor
    With the exception of butter or margarine, the shortening used in cake making should possess either a neutral or extremely mild flavor that it will not mask or interfere with the natural flavor of the cake created by the blending of the other ingredients, including any definite flavoring which may be used in the mix.
    C. Keeping Qualities Light, warmth, air, and moisture favor the development of rancidity in fats and oils. Furthermore, fats in general have a tendency to absorb odors and flavors during storage. Therefore, shortenings in storage should be kept tightly covered in a cool, dark, dry, place free from all odors. However, some of the well-known high grade types of hydrogenated vegetable shortenings available today posess remarkably good keeping qualities. Especial care should be taken regarding the storage of butter in order to prevent the development of off-flavors. The ability of any shortening to retain its freshness and sweetness is of utmost importance in the manufacture of quality baked goods, for it any fat becomes slightly rancid and is used, it will impart to the finished product a disagreeable taste and odor which is even more objectionable to the consumer than ordinary staleness. Today, the baker is fortunate in being able to secure solid shortenings which are quite resistant to the development of rancidity provided they are stored properly.
    D. Creaming Power and Stability
    Shortening used in cake making should be of such consistency and character that it will cream up well with sugar and eggs, forming with them a smooth, light mass of good volume that will maintain its structure during the addition of the other cake ingredients without breaking down or curdling. The shortening used should not be lumpy or unduly hard.
    E. Shortening Power and Uniformity
    The ability of a shortening to impart that desirable eating or chewing quality known as shortness is naturally of importance in connection with it use in cake making. Uniformity is also an essential factor. Uniformity in all ingredients and uniformity in the manner of handling these ingredients mean uniformity in the finished product."
    ---A Treatise on Cake Making, The Fleischmann Division [Standard Brands Inc.:New York] 1935, 1950 (p. 73-75)

    Food historians tell us butter was "discovered" by nomadic peoples of central Asia. It was adopted in the northern parts of Europe where rich, green pastures were plentiful and milk cows proliferated.

    "Butter probably originated amongst the nomadic peoples of central Asia--quite plausibly first discovered by accident after a hard day in the saddle during which the rider's neglected container of milk had been constantly churned. Iti s used gradually spread to India and Europe, although Greece and Rome, both olive-oil cultures, it was at first treated with both suspicion and derision as an inferior foreign product...There are two main strands in the history of butter. In the Indian subcontinent it is preserved by melting it and straining off the impurities (see Ghee)...The European tradition, on the other hand, has been to preserve it with salt."
    ---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 48)

    "Mac Block suggests: It may be that in the final reckoning we owe butter to the nomadic peoples of the Europe-Asiatic plains.' He mentions the Mongolian technique of churning cream horizontally in a leather flask suspended above the ground, after it has been skimmed off with milk. This is the most archaic way of butter-making, still practised by the people of the Atlas. By the time invaders from Asia settled a Sumer around 3500BC, they were shaking cream in a vertically designed churn...The Celts and then the Vikings passed on a taste for butter to their descendants; they may have derived that taste partly from their origins, but also from the fact that cattle did so well in their various adoptive countries, always chosen for green pastures...The ancient Greeks and Romans did not use butter much in their cooking...Butter was not really used much in Italy until the fifteenth cnetury; in France, it features in a third of the recipes of the sixteenth century [cookbook] Livre fort excellent. The use of butter for thickening sauces, in the classic manner, was slow to infiltrate the kitchen. The influence of the example set by the Vikings and Normans when butter consumption began is obvious; in those parts of Western Europe which they later colonized...Not until the fourteenth century did the Church have anything to say about butter in its directives for fasting."
    ---History of Food, Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat [Barnes & Noble:New York] 1992 (p. 120-1)

    "In myths of ancient cultures, butter symbolized fertility as well as purity...Myths of Hindu India attest to the purity of butter, particularly of clarified butter of ghee, a golden liquid produced by melting the butter and then removing from it the whey products that rise to the top and the salt that sinks to the bottom. To the Hindus, ghee is a sacred substance, a product of the sacred cow; in myth, ghee arose at the beginning of the world, as the gods and demons churned the ocean of milk. During the Deluge, soma..the elixir of life, had gotten submerged in this ocean, and the gods had to retrieve it to regain their strength. They used the snake deity Vasuki as a rope and Mount Mandata as a churning pole to churn the ocean until high gods and sacred objects arose from its depths, solidifying like butter from milk. Soma, the elixir of life, finally emerged...Hindu rituals today often involve the use of both fire and ghee as purifiers. Worshippers anout images of gods such as Vishnu and Krishna with ghee; they also wash them with milk, or with a mixture of milk, curd, butter, honey, and sugar. The effectiveness of this purification stems from the belief in cows themselves as purifiers...Indian cooks today frequently incorporate butter, or ghee, into recipes. It has become a cooking staple, and some pious Hindus continue to believe in its sanctity...The ancient people of Iceland also linked fire with butter: Farmers' wives traditionally appealed to Gobhin, the smith god, to watch over their butter...The Masai, a pastoral people of East Africa, consider butter an agent of belssing and use it as an ointment in all life-cycle rituals. The Masai consider milk the ultimate food and consider butter refined milk; they say that it provides sustencence and ensures growth and fertility. Tibetian pastoralists, who rely on the yak, assign special significance to yak butter as well, and Tibetan lamas spend months every year carving statues of the deities form the butter...In Ireland, Saint Brigit took over the functions of the earlier Celtic goddess Brigit, a mother goddess and guardian of cows and ewes...The goddess...also appears to have had a magic store of butter, and fed the people from its inexaustible supply."
    ---Nectar and Ambrosia: A Encyclopedia of Food in World Mythology, Tamra Andrews [ABC-CLIO:Santa Barbara CA] 2000 (p. 46-7)
    [NOTE: This book contains more information than can be paraphrased here. It also contains a short list of recomended books for additional reading.]

    "The first creameries (butter factories) appeared in upstate New York in the late 1850s and early 1860s...The industrialization of butter production truly took off in the last decade of the nineteenth century, promoted by the invention of the mechanical cream separator. Earlier, the size of creameries had been constrained by the time needed to wait for the cream to rise to the top of the separating vats. The mechanical cream separator allowed cream to be separated out from whole milk in a matter of minutes rather than days, and creameries could start butter production with cream rather than whole milk. Factors production of butter rose from 29 million pounds in 1879 to 627 million in 1909 to over 1 billion in 1921. With this rise, dominant brands appeared. In the nineteenth century, butter was marketed mainly in tubs and portioned out by the grocer to individual buyers. In 1898, the first packaged butter was marketed by Beatrice Creamery Company."
    ---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 143)

    Recommended reading: The Butter Industry in the United States: An Economic Study of Butter and Oleomargarine, Edward Wiest [1916]

    Related dairy products: milk, yogurt & cream cheese.

    Double butter
    What is double butter (doppio burro)? Interesting question. We find two explanations:
    1. Concentrated butter containing twice the normal amount of fat.
    2. Double the butter used for the *usual* recipe.

    "Q: What is double butter, which is used in the original recipe for fettuccine Alfredo? Where can I buy it? - Pope Welch, Jackson, Ga. A: The original recipe for fettuccine Alfredo does call for three ingredients - unsalted butter, grated Parmesan cheese and fettuccine. No cream sauce or other additions. From time to time, I've seen that recipe and a reference to double butter. The American Dairy Association had no information about double butter, and several Italian chefs in Atlanta hadn't worked with it either. They said you've got to use the best unsalted butter you can find. At the restaurant level, that might be Plugra butter, unsalted butter produced in Flushing, Ohio. It's a little richer than regular butter. It has 82 percent fat, compared with 80 percent fat in regular butter. And it contains less moisture - 16.5 percent, compared with 18.5 percent - so the flavor is more concentrated. But unfortunately, Plugra isn't available at retail. Lynne Rosetto Kasper, a St. Paul, Minn., writer who has lived in Italy and written about Italian food, said although she has never seen double butter sold in Italy, that fettuccine recipe undoubtedly called for the most flavorful unsalted butter on the market. And that would depend on the dairy. Your best gauge is taste."
    ---"FOOD TALK Guessing the riddle of 'double butter'," Anne Byrnfood, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, December 3, 1992, Section W (p. 3)

    "FETTUCCINE AL BURRO is associated in every tourist's mind with Rome, possibly because the original Alfredo succeeded in making its serving a spectacle reminiscent of grand opera. It is the same ribbon shaped egg pasta that is called tagliatelle in Bologna; but the al burro preparation is very Roman indeed in its rich simplicity. Nothing is added to the pasta except grated cheese and butter - lots of butter. The recipe calls for doppio burro, double butter, which gives it a golden color."
    ---Food of Italy, Waverly Root [Vintage Books: New York] 1971 (p. 86)

    More on Fettuccine Alfredo.

    Unsalted butter
    Recipes specifying unsalted butter are often hoping to achieve a sweeter, finer product. In the old days (before refrigeration) butter was preserved with salt. Colonial and pioneer cooks actually "washed" their butter before using it. Then, as today, unsalted (fresh) butter was preferred for making the finest cakes and cookies. Pre-industrial unsalted (aka fresh, French) butter was more expensive than salted/preserved [long lasting] counterpart. In the late 1870s advances in food science made possibly commercial production of unsalted butter. The reaction among American consumers was overwhelmingly positive. Among those who could afford it. Coincidentally? This is when "artificial butter" (aka margarine, oleomargerine) was introduced and salt was associated with disguising poor quality product.

    "After churning, the butter is further worked, and also washed in plain water, to remove as much of the buttermilk as possible and improve the texture and flavour...This also improves keeping quality, as does the addition of salt, which discourages the growth of bacteria. Butter, whether salted or not, is not a fully preserved food; indeed, it begins to deteriorate (albeit slowly) at once."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food,Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 117)

    "Fresh or sweet butter, so often specified in our recipes, is butter that has been neither salted nor clarified butter keeps remarkably well (it is the milk solids that are so subject to turning rancid) and serves very well for frying, and is indeed then far easier to handle. For many purposes, salt butter was well washed before use to remove the salt. While it then never has quite the flavor and charm of fresh butter, it was surely in no worse condition than most of the butter we are able to buy today, which has little character to begin with and has sojourned in cold storage for months."
    ---Martha Washington's Booke of Cookery, transcribed by Karen Hess [Columbia University Press:New York] 1995 (p. 9)

    "Butter...Most of the recipes in this book call for sweet butter--first-grade butter made from sweet cream with no added salt. Sometimes amounts vary in a single recipe...If you wonder why the lovely, plate, delicately fragrant, waxy curl on our Paris breakfast tray is so good, here is one reason."
    ---Joy of Cooking, Irma S. Rombauer & Marion Rombauer Becker [Bobbs-Merrill Company:Indianapolis] 1975 (p. 539)

    "10,000 lbs of Unsalted Butter, fresh from the Churn, to be sweet and free from buttermilk."
    ---display ad, Freeport-Journal [IL], February 24, 1875 (p. 5)

    "The liking for butter that contains a very small percentage of salt is a taste that is rapidly growing in this country, and one which dairymen would do well to cater to. Of course, as butter of this description will not bear long keeping, it must of necessity command a higher price than that which can be held to meet the demands of the market. on this account its manufacture will ordinarily be restricted to dairies that are situation within a relatively short distance of certain great centers of consumption. In this City, the demand for this species of butter, due, doubtless, to our large German and French population, is very great, but as mentioned above, the liking for this article is rapidly growing among those with whom the taste is not an inherited one. Indeed, it only needs a short sojourn in an inland town or on a farm in this country to become aware of the strong liking that exists for butter of an exceedingly salt variety. There may be not the least difficulty in obtaining butter that is fresh as regards time, but the landlady of a village boarding-house, or the wife of a farmer, cannot understand the liking that her guests have for what to her is an exceedingly insipid article of food. Another circumstance that must always add to the cost of butter with which little or not salt has been worked, is the fact that a much greater degree of care is required in its making. Salt, when plentifully used, is a notorious disguiser of imperfections, while, on the other hand, impurities can be detected in strictly unsalted butter that are not apparent in milk. For this reason the utmost cleanliness in the manufacture is necessary, and though what is known as a naturally cold hand for touching butter is often spoken of as highly desirable, it is much better to have it made in such a manner that direct contact with the hand is unnecessary. A device, which seems to have originated in Holstein, has recently been introduced into on or two of the fancy dairies in the State of Massachusetts. This is a rapidly-rotating separator, build upon the principle of a centrifugal machine in a sugar refinery. The fresh milk is poured into this, and by its rapid revolutions the cream is in a minute or two separated from the thin milk; presses are then used which squeeze out all the lactic acid that is to be found in the buttermilk. By this process unsalted butter can be made which will, by careful keeping, retain its good quality for some little time. No doubt, as the demand increases, facilities for meeting it will be found and applied, as Americans are never backward in adapting means to ends; but under the most favorable conditions, butter of this kind will probably command a price fully 50 per cent higher than that demanded for the ordinary grades."
    ---Editorial, New York Times, November 10, 1879 (p. 4)

    "A short time since we referred to the increased use of unsalted butter in this country, and as a sequel to what was then said, it may be well to call attention to the circumstance that a process has recently been invented in England by which butter of this kind can be kept certainly for months, and possibly for years, without apparent deterioration. An experiment made proved that fresh butter when treated with this preservative could remain exposed to the action of air for three months, and at the end of that time it was hardly possible to detect the difference between it and the newly-made article. Some experts at butter-tasting, it is said, through that it lacked something of the aroma which butter fresh from the dairy possesses, and that an exceedingly slight trace of salt in it would impart to it more character. But for all practical purposes the article, at the end of three months, was as good as at the beginning, although under ordinary conditions it would have been considered unfit for eating at the end of ten days. The 'preparation,' as it is called, by the use of which this result is obtained is at present a secret. It is an odorless, tasteless, and harmless antiseptic, and has also the merit of exceeding cheapness; so much so that the quantity needed to preserve a pound of butter costs in England about half a penny. It is worked into the butter directly after churning, and then all that is required is that the manufactured article should be kept in a tolerably cool place. The change which this discovery promises to bring about can hardly fail to be an important one, as it will tend to equalized the cost of the best table butter through the entire year. Hitherto, in the Winter months, the price of even mildly salted butter has been high, for the reason that that made in the Summer for Winter consumption could only be kept pure by the admixture of a large quantity of salt. The same is true of what is known as cooking butter, which, as it is frequently made in a hurried and imperfect manner, is only checked from early putrefaction by the excessive use of saline preservative. Now, if salt is no longer necessary, butter may be good or poor, but in either case its merits or faults will not need to be disguised under a covering of salt. It is also intimated that the same preparation can be applied to the preserving of fresh meat,and if this proves to be true, its effect upon the trade and dietary customs of the world will bake the discover one of the most important of the century."
    ---Editorial, New York Times, November 22, 1879 (p. 4)

    "In contrast to the general taste, there has developed in the larger cities a considerable demand among the customers of high class stores for un-colored and un-salted butter--variously known as "Fresh," "Sweet" and "French." Some of the French stores of the metropolis and elsewhere have always handled this for their patrons, but the present sale to a large number of families of other nationalities and to many high class hotels and restaurants is of comparatively recent origin. The perfumed butter used in Paris is made by taking pats of "fresh" or unsalted butter and placing them on a layer of some variety of flowers, according to the perfume desired, a piece of muslin being laid between the butter and blossoms. Another layer of flowers is placed above the butter and then ice is added."
    ---Grocer's Encyclopedia, Artemas Ward [National Grocer:New York] 1911 (p. 90)

    Lard is rendered pig fat. Food historians tell us pigs/hogs have been used by humans for food and cooking since prehistoric times. Traditional slaughtering time was late fall. No parts, including, extremities were wasted. The fat from the pig was employed from these very early days forward as a cooking medium and ingredient. Uses and recipes evolved according to culture and cuisine. How was lard discovered? Like most early foods, probably by accident. Presumably, when early cooks finished cooking hog pieces, they noticed the thick fat (aka lard) which congealed after cooling.
    Leaf lard is considered by some to be the highest quality of hog fat.

    "Originally, lard was bacon or fat pork, a meaning it still has in French; the sense referred pig fat' did not become firmly established until the eighteenth century (the French for 'lard' in this sense is saindoux). The word comes ultimately from Latin lardum or laridum, which may be connected with Greek larinos, fat'. Its appearance as a verb, meaning insert small strips of fat bacon into meat before cooking', actually predates the noun in English, first occuring in 1330. The strips of bacon or other fat so used are called lardons or lardoon. This word (the original French lardon is nowadays more frequently encountered in cookery books than the anglicized lardoon) has been around since at least the mid-fifteenth century, but has never perhaps become an everyday term...The highest grade of lard is made from the fat beneath the pig's skin and under its ribs, and also from the mesentery, part of the intestinal wall. These are cooked over a very slow heat to produce lard. Lard used to be kept in a pig's bladder...The word larder is a derivative of lard. A larder was probably originally a room in which bacon was stored. In previous centuries it was also called a lard house and a lardy."
    ---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 2002 (p. 185)

    "Lard is pig fat, obtained by rendering down the deposits which exist between the flesh and the skin and around the internal organs of pig carcasses. It is bland and white, and its ubiquity in an age when pigs were kept by all those who could afford them made it very important in the traditional cookery of Europe, the Americas, and China. The fat of the pig was an article of almost as much value as the meat. Lard contains much saturated fat, and this, combined with an image as poverty food and the increasesd availability of butter and oils, means that it is less important than formerly in the developed world...In keeping with the tradition of not wasting any part of the pig, the bits of membrane left in the pan, cooked by the action of heat on the fat, are used as salty snacks or eaten on bread...(cracklings)...Lard has many uses, especially in areas where plant oils and dairy fats are scarce...The use of lard as a preservative is best illustrated by the confits of pork or goose made in SW France...Like all fats, lard is composed of crystals. These are relatively large...and make it a poor creaming fat but an effective shortener for pastry. Thus there are few cakes which use lard, but many pastries...The use of lard for frying has been in decline in western countries, eroded by vegetable oils with their healthier image..."
    ---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 443)

    "When Europeans set up their stockades in North America, they brought with them pigs and cows, the four-legged factories that would produce virtually all of the cooking fat used in this country until the industrial revolution. Lard, rendered pork fat, was by far the most common shortening throughout the colonial era and well into the antebellum period. Lard was used for frying, breads, biscuits, cakes, and even as a dressing for vegetables. Before the advent of refrigeration, most of the nation's pork was salted, and the fattier parts were used for flavoring stuffings as well as stews. Bacon and the dripping that it would yield were prized ingredients. In this agrarian society lard was rendered at home and kept for many months in the cool confines of the aptly named larder. The crisp crust that lard produces in frying was particularly appreciated in the South, where, it has been suggested, black cooks adapted West African frying techniques to create regional specialties such as fried chicken and hush puppies. Certainly pork fat was much more available below the Mason-Dixon Line than in New England, where dairy and beef cattle were the more common forms of livestock. For many recipes, lard continues to retain favor in parts of the old Confederacy...Early recipes often called for butter or lard...Whether the cook used butter or lard was generally an issue of price and availability."
    ---Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America, Andrew F. Smith editor [Oxford University Press:New York] 2004, Volume 1 (p. 458-9)

    "Lard is hog's fat separated form the tissue by boiling or rendering. The residye is known as lard stearin. Lard is put up in kegs, barrels, tierces and small cans. Its quality vaires very much with different houses. If pure, it should be white, of the consistence of ointment and free from an disagreeable taste or smell. Leaf lard is that made from the leaf fat which lies around the kidneys. The bext best in quality is that from the back, and the poorest that from the small intestines. The greater part of that marketed is obtained by the melting together of the whole fat, except the leaf fat. Compound lard is generally a mixture of lard stearin and cottonseed oil. The most common fraud in the sale of lard is the substitution of 'compound' for pure lard. New tierces will soak from two to three pounds when filled with hot lard, but if they weight over that amount claim should be made on them. The most honest of packers are liable to have trouble with tares. Lard should be stored in a dry, cool dark place--moisture, light and high temperature affect its quality."
    ---The Grocer's Encyclopedia, Artemas Ward [National Grocer:New York] 1911 (p. 326-329)
    [NOTE: 1 "tierce" of salt meat= 304-336 lbs.]

    Leaf lard
    True leaf lard surrounds the kidneys of the hog. Commerical leaf lard surfaced in the l880s. This lard has the reputation for being the finest grade. Like other shortenings, leaf lard was used for frying and shortening ingredient. It's "flavorless" quality made it especially appealing because, like competing vegetable shortening Crisco, it did not change the flavor of the finished dish. Historic descriptions concerning health and cleanliness help us understand why "modern" homemakers favored commercial products over "natural" ingredients.

    "Simon Pure" leaf lard products were introduced by Armour [Chicago, IL] on June 1, 1884 (
    USPatent & Trademark Office, tm registration #0056864. The product was registered October 23, 1906.

    "Leaf Lard is that made from the leaf fat which lies around the kidneys. The next best in quality is that from the back, and the poorest that from the small intestines. The greater part of that marketed is obtained by melting together of the whole fat, except the leaf fat."
    ---The Grocer's Encyclopedia, Artemas Ward [National Grocer:New York] 1911 (p. 326)
    [NOTE: This book also defines Lard (generally), compound lard and lard-oil (a lubricant for machinery)

    "Leaf Lard that is Pure Leaf. Armour's 'Simon Pure' Leaf lard fits the new meat and food laws to a dot. The U.S. Inspected and Passed' stamp is not put on 'leaf lard' unless the lard IS pure LEAF. Nut the U.S. stamp on a lard package does not guarantee LEAF unless the LABEL also says 'leaf.' And a 'leaf' label is no guaranty unless the U.S. stamp is there too. LOOK FOR BOTH. The U.S. seal IS on Armour's 'Simon Pure' Leaf Lard. This lard always has been ALL PURE LEAF; not an ounce of other fat goes into it. It is made of SELECTED leaf, rendered in open kettles. It is a PERFECT leaf lard. For your protection, this lard is put up in SEALED tin pails ('threes,' 'fives' and 'tens.') The government seal in on a strip across the top...which must be cut to open the pail. With that seal intact and with Armour's 'Simon Pure' label on the pail, you KNOW you get PERFECT LEAF lard, exactly as it was put up and SEALED under the U.S. inspector's eye. The air tight pail keeps out dust, air and contamination of every kind. Costs more than ordinary lard? Yes; and IS WORTH more. GOES FARTHER and ALWAYS SATISFIES."
    ---Pastry Wrinkles, Armour and Company:Chicago IL, undated, advertised in Boston Cooking School Magazine circa 1912 (p. 3-4)
    [NOTES: This booklet is online, courtesy of of Duke University Library's Scriptorium project.]

    "If you want the finest of all seasonings for winter cornbreads, get pork cracklings. If you want to make chop suey now and then, have some home-tried-out lard for frying of the ingredients. You need lard for pie crusts, and that home rendered is highly excellent for the purpose if it is as white as snow, as it may be by the following method: Three-fourths lard to one-fourth butter makes excellent shortening for cookies. Buy a cone of leaf lard from a totally reliable butcher and scrape and wipe off any dirt on the outer part of it. After this preliminary cleaning, remove the parchment-like skin and cut out any blood spots, if any are discoverable. Unless the leaf is exceptionally hard the fat can not be put through the food chopper, as suet can be in preparing it for the rendering pot. Cut it into small pieces with a knife or pull it apart as it is removed fro the parchment skin. Put into top of double boiler and cook until fat is melted out of the crackling part, which may not be stiff, but can be cooked over the fire with constant attention until they become so. ith this sort of cooking there is but the slightest odor given off, and the lard will not have a brown shade, although the cracklings, when finally finished, may have. The lard strained through a double cheese cloth is an attractive product. One part may be cooked plain, another with the seasonings of a soup bunch, to make it excellent for heating up dishes, and another with a little milk to make it a better or more tasteless shortening."
    ---"Daily Cook Book: Trying Out Lard," Jane Eddington, Washington Post, January 10, 1925 (p. 16)

    "'Simon Pure' Leaf Lard. The qualities that make 'Simon Pure' Leaf Lard the first medium for deep frying and for shortening have been most carefully verified in the laboratories and kitchens of chemist and food experts. 'Simon Pure' Leaf Lard is a 100% pure leaf lard. It is made from that section of creamy-white leaf fat or which there is but a small portion in each of the corn-fed Government Inspected porkers. It is dry, crisp, flaky, delicate in flavor, and rich in every way. 'Simon Pure' Leaf Lard is rendered in open kettles. It is a slow method, but prevents scorching or undercooking, allows all moisture to escape, and brings you leaf lard at its best. The leaf shaped flakes of fat are chopped into small pieces for rendering, thus each particle receives even heat; then it is 'tried out' in steam jacketed open kettles, so that the steam escapes instead of condensing. This makes a drier lard and intensifies the delicate flavor. The result is a pure leaf lard, rich and creamy. Its creamy texture mixes readily with other ingredients in making pastries or cakes."
    ---Make it Better with Leaf Lard, Dept. of Food Economics [Armour and Company:Chicago IL], undated, 1930s? (p. 3)
    [NOTE: This booklet offers instructions using the product for frying and deep fat frying and recipes for cakes/pastries using product as shortening ingredient. FT library owns copy.]

    "Leaf Lard, usually considered as the highest grade, is obtained from the fat surrounding the kidneys, and rendered at a moderately high temperature. However, much of the high quality lard now produced is secured from other parts of the animal as well."
    ---A Treatise on Baking, Julius E. Wihlfahrt [Fleischmann Division, Standard Brands Inc.:New York], Third edition 1935 (p. 87)

    Aka "artificial butter," "margarine butter," "oleomargarine," "oilymargarine," and "butterine," this manufactured compound was introduced by the French in 1871 as an alternative for lower grades of butter. Primary sources suggest the product was not readily embraced by the American butter/dairy market. Cheaper and more stable, margarine was perceived as a threat to their lucrative industry. Laws were passed to protect the consumers from thinking margarine was real butter.

    "The second international dairy fair was opened in the American Institute building, December 8, with a fine display of dairy prdoucts, cattle and machinery. The exhibits included butter, cheese, dairy cattle, implements and machinery for butter and cheese making, and agricultural designs and models for creameries, cheese factories, dairy buildings and farms...Butter makers in other dairy countries have, however, made great progress in improving their product, and the average quality is much better than it was five, or even three years ago... Margarine butter, or oleomargarine as it is called here, has also assisted in bringing about this result, as it competed cussessfully with the poorer grades of ordinary butter, and obliged European butter makers to make an effort to produce a superior article."
    ---"The International Dairy Fair," Scientific American, December 27, 1879

    "Oleomargarine was discovered by the French chemist Mege. it was bitterly opposed in this country, especially by the American Grocer and its owners in New York, but it has so completely overcome popular prejudice that the Thurbers are now extensive owners in the manfactories of what they once abused so roundly. Laws have been passed obliging those who sell it to brand all packages plainly as olemargarine, but this has only served to show the public that it is so near an approach to butter as to need a distinguishing mark. It is made of clean, fresh fat, because it would be almost impossible and very expensive to make a creditable article out of fats which have the least taint. The Thurber establishment in New York city is said to turn out more oleomargarine than the whole State of New York does butter. Many factories now exist in all parts of the Union."
    ---The Grocers' Hand-Book and Directory for 1886 [The Philadelphia Grocer Publishing Co.:Philadelphia] 1882, 1886 (p. 142-143)
    [NOTE: Francis B. Thurber was a wealthy New York City grocer.]

    "Oleomargarine, also called Margarine and Butterine: was invented by the French chemist, Mege Mouriez in 1871. As manufactured to-day, it is generally composed of 40% to 45% beef or Oleo oii; 20% to 25% Neutral lard (from the first rendering of the leaf fat of the hog) and 10% to 30% butter, milk or cream. Vegetable oils, such as cotton-seed oil, are sometimes added. The mixture is churnted at a room temperature above the melting point, and then chilled and salted, worked, etc., in about the same way as butter. At the solicitation of those interested in the prdouction and sale of butter, Congress passed a law, effective July 1, 1902, placing a tax of one-quarter of a cent of a pound on uncolored Oleomargarine, and a tax of ten cents a pound on the colored product. In a great many states, manufactuers are, under severe penalties, entirely forbidden the use of coloring matter. The law also requires that all Oleomargarine shall be plainly labeled, that it shall not be sold in substitution for butter, and that when used in hotels, boarding houses, etc., the fact must be made known by announcments to that effect posted where they may be readily seen. The manufactuers of Oleomargarine claim that their product is equal to the finest dairy butter in purity and nutritiveness and that in flavor it is far superior to the cheaper grades of butter. These claims are supported by many chemists and scientists."
    ---The Grocer's Encyclopedia, Artemas Ward [National Grocer:New York] 1911 (p. 419-420)

    The Butter Industry in the United States: An Economic Study of Butter and Oleomargarine, Edward Wiest

    Vegetable shortenings
    Cottolene (N.K. Fairbank & Co., 1892), Crisco (Proctor & Gamble, 1911), Primex (Proctor & Gamble, 1926), Parfay (Swift & Company, 1930), Spry (Lever Brothers, 1932), Swiftning (Swift & Company, 1947) & Golden Fluffo (Proctor & Gamble, 1955) were marketed to American consumers as "digestible" and "pure." Originally sold in tins, these semi-soft shortenings were promoted for frying as well as baking. Pork-free shortenings were embraced by the Jewish community as well as their modern neighbors. Corporate kitchens produced booklets touting better flavor, crispier crusts, and richer results. Hydrogenation made the product shelf-stable. A short history of hydrogenation.

    Early products
    "The chief Vegetable Oils are almond, castor, cocoanut, corn, cotton-seed, hemp, linseed, olive, palm, palm kernel, peanut, poppy-seed, rape, sesame and walnut. Cold Drawn or Cold Presssed oil, the highest grade of vegetable fixed oil, is that obtained by the first expression first expression, without heat or chemical additions. The general rule is in the treatment of fruits and seeds which give edible oils, is to use the cold-expression first to obtain edible grades, then to extract the remaining oil-content after heating or chemical tgreatment, or first one and then the other, for industrial purposes."
    ---The Grocer's Encyclopedia, Artemas Ward [National Grocer:New York] 1911 (p. 419-420)

    Cottolene is generally recognized as the first hydrogenated vegetable shortening available to American consumers. While primarily marketed as a cooking medium, Cottolene could have served double duty as baking ingredient.

    "A New Shortening. If you have a using machine, a clothes wringer, or a carpet sweeper (all new inventions of modern times) it's proof that you can see the usefulness of new things. Cottolene is a new shortening, and every housekeeper who is interested in the health and comfort of her family should give it a trial. It's a vegetable product and far superior to anything else for shortening and frying purposes. Physicians and Cooking Experts say it is destined to be adopted in every kitchen in the land. This is to suggest that you put it in yours now. It's both new and good. Sold by leading grocers everywhere. Made only by N.K. Fairbank & Co., Chicago, and Produce Exchange, N.Y.."
    ---display ad, New York Times, April 6, 1892 (P. 2)

    Arguably, the first popular national shortening product of its kind. Actively promoted by Proctor and Gamble, Cincinnati OH, Crisco's tag line was "It's Digestible." Famous home economists worked in the company kitchens and authored dozens of cookbooks encouraging modern cooks to try this new, improved product. In 1937 Crisco introduced "Super-Creamed" Crisco, a fluffier product for even greater digestibility. Sales figures and constant variations attest to the staying-power of this iconic American food product.
    Company history & A Calendar of Dinners including The Story of Crisco, Marian Harris Neil.

    FoodTimeline library owns 2300+ books, hundreds of 20th century USA food company brochures, & dozens of vintage magazines (Good Housekeeping, American Cookery, Ladies Home Journal &c.) We also have ready access to historic magazine, newspaper & academic databases. Service is free and welcomes everyone. Have questions? Ask!

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    Research conducted by Lynne Olver, editor The Food Timeline. About this site.

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    4 February 2015