In a large mixing bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients. Stir well to thoroughly mix. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Store in an airtight container. May be stored at room temperature for up to a month. Store in the refrigerator or freezer to increase storage time.
To Make Biscuits
Preheat oven to 450 F. Lightly grease a 9-inch baking pan. In a large mixing bowl, combine biscuit mix and water to make a soft but not sticky dough. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and pat or roll out until 1/2-inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter, cut into 8, 2-1/2 inch, round biscuits. Place biscuits closely together into prepared baking pan. If desired, brush with melted butter just before baking. Bake in preheated oven 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.
Cutting Biscuits: Flour the biscuit cutter or knife between each cut. Cut straight down. Avoid twisting or mashing down between the layers to help keep the biscuit light and fluffy.
Baking Biscuits: For soft, high biscuits, place biscuits with sides just touching in a rimmed baking pan just big enough to hold the biscuits. For crisper biscuits, place biscuits about an inch apart on a baking or cookie sheet and reduce baking time to 8 to 10 minutes.