They are all fats, but what is the difference? And what difference do they make in your finished products? Chef Cappy explains…..
Butter is made from cream that has been churned into a solid state. Butter has a characteristic flavor that most people enjoy. It comes salted and unsalted, depending on what your recipe requires.
Margarine was invented in 1869 from beef tallow as a less expensive substitute for butter. Blame Napoleon – he wanted a cheaper fat substitute for his troops. Modern margarine is made mainly of refined vegetable oil and water. Because of the water in margarine, it is trickier to use in a recipe that calls for butter. It also contains trans-fats, which have been linked to heart disease.
Lard is made from pig fat, but it doesn’t taste like pork. It is great for frying, roasting, or making flaky pastries. Pigs that have been fed different diets will produce lard with a different fatty acid content.
Shortening is made from oils like soybean, cottonseed, or palm oil. They are hydrogenated (manufacturers add hydrogen) so they stay soft at room temperature. Like margarine, it is also packed with trans-fat. Shortening also makes flaky pastries.
So, when the recipe calls for butter, don’t substitute margarine. And if the recipe calls for lard, don’t be afraid to use it for fear that it will taste like pork. Or, go ahead and experiment with different flavors!