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Thursday, August 19, 2021

Just How Many Pie Crusts Can I Make with a 3-lb Canister of Crisco Shortening? (And why would this even matter to you?)

With blackberry picking each weekend, this is pie season in my house. In fact, I was making a large batch of pie pastry this past week. I got to thinking about how much Crisco I'd like to stock up on.

Stocking up is not just about buying as much as I can. It's equally important to know how much I will use before the product expires. It's no savings to buy too much and have to throw some away. For some items in my pantry, I instinctively know how much we use in a month or a year, such as peanut butter. I know that we go through about 16 ounces of peanut butter each week. Knowing this, it's easy to figure out how much peanut butter to buy to last us say 6 months. I don't need to calculate how much peanut butter we use on each sandwich, and how many sandwiches we might eat in one month. Other items in the pantry are used more sporadically. One example of this type of item is Crisco-type shortening.

I use shortening mostly for pie pastry (and occasionally for biscuits). Knowing how much shortening to buy for a year's supply depends on me knowing how many pie crusts we will consume in a year and how many pie crusts I can get from one 3-lb canister.

The other day I did the calculation of how many cups of shortening are in one of those 3-lb canisters. For information, there are little over 7 cups per 3 pounds or 2  1/3 cups per pound of shortening. My bulk pie pastry recipe uses  1  3/4 cups of shortening for a 5-crust batch. So I figure I can make about 20 single or 10 double crust pies with a 3-lb canister of solid vegetable shortening.

I'm currently baking one 2-crust blackberry pie per week, using all of our wonderful foraged blackberries. I'll continue with the blackberries until the Italian plums are ripe in mid-September, when I'll switch over to single crust plum pies for a month. Then later in fall and in winter, I'll occasionally bake single crust pumpkin pies. 

With my rough estimations of how many pies we'll eat (plus a guess at how many batches of biscuits I'll bake) and knowledge of how many crusts I can get out of each canister of shortening, I know that I need 1  1/2 to 2 canisters of vegetable shortening for a year. 

Too bad I can't buy 1  1/2 canisters of shortening. Fortunately, it can be frozen to push its expiry out into the future. When I notice the best-by date on the can is approaching, I freeze the shortening in 1-cup portions. Frozen shortening needs to be brought back to room temperature for making pie pastry, but otherwise works just as well as shortening that's never been frozen. 

You may not use shortening or even be considering stocking up on any in the near future. So why read this post? Well, these types of calculations can be applied to other foods you may stock up on. When I'm trying to decide how much of an ingredient I may need for a year, I make calculations based on the amount I use for my most common recipe for that ingredient and the number of "servings" listed on that item's package. Another example is cornstarch. I mostly use cornstarch for making scratch pudding. My recipe for pudding uses just over 5 tablespoons per batch. A 16-oz box of cornstarch contains 45 tablespoons. So, one box will make between 8 and 9 batches of pudding. I also occasionally use cornstarch in cookies. At one batch of pudding per month and a few batches of cookies, I would likely go through 1 1/2 to 2 boxes of cornstarch in a year.

All of these calculations may sound too nitty gritty. Just like moving oldest items to the front of shelves and taking inventory every few months, I see these calculations as another necessary part of my stock management.


  1. I did not know crisco could be frozen. I am going to do that! I stumbled upon a deal at Costco a few months ago and their huge container was cheaper than a much smaller one at Walmart ( love that wm grocery app for quick in store price comparisons). Hard to argue with more for less $$ so I bought it.

    1. Hi Diane,
      I use the Walmart grocery app and our Cash & Carry website while in WinCo for comparing prices. It's saved me several dollars each time I shop.
      Yep, freezing Crisco works. Just freeze in small containers, like 8 to 16 oz, then thaw it at room temp for an hour before baking with it.
      Have a great weekend, Diane!


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