Yes, and they’re in so many popular foods!
They’re superb at creating crisp-crumbly biscuits, crunchy crackers, moist cupcakes and flaky pastries. A chocolate can be customised to melt in the mouth not in the hands. The smaller fat crystals make shortenings with smaller air bubbles to stay in the batter longer and produce reliably fluffy cakes. Less hydrogenation can produce a softer type of chocolate for a doughnut topping and a more hydrogenated oil makes the coating of individual boxed chocolates harder. Cooking with vegetable oils causes pastry layers to collapse and gives them a greasy feel; a hydrogenated product keeps the pastry layer separate making them airy and crisp. In margarines, partially hydrogenated oils are spreadable at cool or warm temperatures without being greasy or soggy. In muffins and other baked goods hydrogenated oils make them moist and long lasting.
Hydrogenated oils are great for frying doughnuts, potato chips and chicken nuggets. These oils don’t smoke up at normal frying temperatures and may be used many times over in batch frying.
They are the most fantastic food ingredient ever invented and are the backbone of the food industry. Ever since the fear of cholesterol and saturated fats was created they’ve been thrown in vast quantities into our food. For almost 100 years they’ve not only been unchallenged but recommended by health experts and governments. Scientists whose research discovered disturbing findings about their health effects were committing professional suicide if they published – nobody wanted to know.
And now that the dangers of the trans-fats created by hardening a liquid oil by hydrogenation are becoming un-deniable they are being replaced by refined palm oil. A saturated fat.
An industrial grade hydrogenated seed oil combined with sugar and refined flour makes delicious things to eat. The food ingredient label usually calls it ‘vegetable oil’.
A better product label is “edible food like substance”!