What is Spray Dried Shortening?
Spray dried shortening is a type of food ingredient that’s often used in commercial baking and food production. Shortening, in general, is a fat used in baking to create a tender or flaky texture. It gets its name from the fact that it “shortens” gluten strands in wheat by adding fat. Spray drying is a process that converts the shortening into a powdered form, which offers advantages in terms of ease of use, storage, and control over quantities in industrial food applications.
How is Spray Dried Shortening Made?
The process of creating spray dried shortening begins with regular shortening, which can be made from a variety of fats, including animal fats like lard and plant-based fats like vegetable oil. The shortening is melted and mixed with a starch or a protein to create a stable emulsion. This emulsion is then fed into a spray dryer, which atomizes the liquid into a fine mist. As this mist travels through a hot air stream within the dryer, the water in the emulsion evaporates, leaving behind tiny particles of dry shortening.
Is Spray Dried Shortening Vegan?
Whether spray dried shortening is vegan or not depends entirely on the source of the fat used to make the shortening. If the shortening is made from plant-based fats such as soybean oil, palm oil, or canola oil, it is indeed vegan. However, if it is made from animal fats like lard or butter, it is not vegan.
In addition, the starch or protein used to create the emulsion may also be of animal origin. For example, casein, a milk protein, could be used, which would make the product non-vegan. Therefore, when buying products that list spray dried shortening as an ingredient, it’s important to check the label for information about the source of the shortening and other ingredients.
Spray Dried Shortening in a Vegan Diet
Spray dried shortening can be used in a vegan diet when it is derived entirely from plant sources. It’s a useful ingredient in baking, as it can help to create light, tender, and flaky pastries and crusts. However, due to its processed nature and potential contribution to unhealthy fat intake, it should be used sparingly and not be a staple in a vegan diet that prioritizes whole, plant-based foods.
To conclude, whether spray dried shortening is vegan or not depends on the original sources of fat and other ingredients used in its production. It’s crucial to check product labels and, when in doubt, reach out to manufacturers for clarification. While it can be a useful ingredient for certain vegan baked goods, its processed nature means it should be used in moderation as part of a balanced and varied vegan diet.