A solid fat made by hydrogenating vegetable oil, shortening is virtually flavorless and odorless. It is used in place of butter or lard, especially in baking. Though it adds none of the flavor or richness of butter, it can help make pie crust flaky, produce more stable icings and frostings, and keep cookies from spreading too much as they bake. For sautéing and frying, vegetable oil is a much healthier choice, as hydrogenation creates trans fats and leaves none of the beneficial polyunsaturated fats of the liquid vegetable oil.
Substitute butter or lard, though each will lend its own distinctive flavor, and butter will not hold its shape as well.
There's no need to refrigerate vegetable shortening. Kept dry and away from heat, it will last a year.