Question: Is lard the same as shortening?
Answer: When people used to speak of shortening they were referring to lard. However, this all changed when Proctor and Gamble invented a vegetable shortening made from cottonseed oil in the early 1900’s. This was the first ever vegetable shortening and was marketed as an alternative to lard (pig fat) when it was first released in 1911. It was cheaper and believed to be healthier than traditional animal lard. The product was called Crisco, which is still popular 100 years later. The ingredients of Crisco, however, have changed. It is now made with soybean oil and palm oil as opposed to the original cottonseed oil.
Shortening is technically any fat that turns solid at room temperature. This mean that products like lard, butter or margarine may be considered shortening. However, when a recipe calls for shortening, it is highly likely that the recipe is referring to vegetable shortening (Crisco).
You can use lard as a substitute for vegetable shortening for most recipes that call for vegetable shortening. However, some people notice a taste difference with lard. They claim lard has a pork or “piggy” taste and thus is better for savory dishes while vegetable shortening is better for sweet recipes. Additionally, it is not uncommon for cooks or bakers to use both lard and shortening as a combination to balance the flavors. If you ask us, we cannot taste anything close to pork when using lard as an ingredient, but, of course, all taste buds are different.