A solid fat made from vegetable oils, such as soybean and cottonseed oil. Although made from oil, shortening has been chemically transformed into a solid state through hydrogenation, a process that creates trans fatty acids and converts the mixture into a saturated fat, thereby destroying any polyunsaturate benefits. Vegetable shortening is virtually flavorless and may be substituted for other fats in baking and cooking. It can be stored at room temperature for up to a year.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.