Cooking For Engineers

Kitchen Notes

Clarified Butter

by Michael Chu
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As a fat used for cooking, butter provides a unique flavor and aroma to many dishes. The problem with butter is that before you get to its smoke point, the milk solids have gone past browning to burning. Removing the milk solids and impurities allows us to retain much of the flavor of butter while being able to cook at higher temperatures. Butter without milk solids is called clarified butter or drawn butter (although some restaurants serve just melted butter as drawn butter). The process (clarifying butter) is quite simple.

Clarifying butter is as simple as melting butter and letting the milk solids settle or rise out of the fat. Care should be taken not to burn the butter while heating it, so use a heavy pan that doesn't have any hotspots (see Common Materials of Cookware for more information on hotspots). When using salted butter, it is difficult to guess how much salt will remain in the clarified butter. A lot of the salt can be found in the milk solids as it settles or foams up, but the exact amount will be different every time. Use unsalted butter to remove any uncertainty (you can add salt to the clarified butter later to achieve the desired saltiness).

To make approximately 3/4 cup of clarified butter, melt one cup (225 g) of butter in a small saucepan (a 1-quart saucepan is shown in the picture) over low heat. With a good saucepan, you can just leave it there over low heat while doing something else and the butter will slowly melt. Turning up the heat will melt the butter faster, but the milk solids may begin to burn, so, resist the temptation. Instead, you can cut up the butter into pieces to speed up melting. Also, if you don't have a small saucepan, it may be best to use more butter. Too little butter in a large diameter pan will make it difficult to separate the solids from the fat later.


When the butter has completely melted, continue to heat it over low heat. Some milk solids will drop to the bottom of the pan while others will rise as foam. As the milk solids rise to the top, they can be skimmed off. (Or, it can be removed when the butter cools.)



At this point you can remove the butter from the heat and skim off all the foam. Let the butter cool a bit to let more of the solids settle and then pour or spoon out the clarified fat, leaving the remaining milk solids in the pan.

Alternatively, pour the hot melted butter through cheesecloth to filter out the foam and solids that have settled, catching the clarified butter in a jar.

Or, pour the hot butter into a container, allow it to separate while cooling and then refrigerate. After it has solidified, you can easily scrape off the hardened foam from the stiff clarified butter layer.


Although pure clarified butter does not need to be refrigeration, I recommend you store your clarified butter in the refrigerator (some milk solids may still be present and may cause the butter to go rancid). Use the clarified butter as you would use regular butter (tablespoon for tablespoon) in recipes.

Robert Wolke, in What Einstein Told His Cook, suggests using the left over milk solids for topping popcorn. Sounds like a good idea to me! (Also, Wolke mentions that no lactose is in clarified butter, so lactose-sensitive individuals should be able to enjoy clarified butter without the uncomfortable effects those of us who are lactose intolerant are well aware of.)


Written by Michael Chu
Published on August 25, 2005 at 02:52 AM
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37 comments on Clarified Butter:(Post a comment)

On August 26, 2005 at 03:19 AM, eze (guest) said...
Subject: another method
I've used Alton Brown's method (http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recipes/recipe/0,,FOOD_9936_22742,00.html) in the past, and it has worked quite well. The best part is there's no straining if you do it right. Just make sure to follow the recipe exactly.


On August 26, 2005 at 03:03 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Ghee vs. Clarified Butter
What is the difference between Ghee & Clarified butter?

Thanks!
Tirian


On August 26, 2005 at 03:59 PM, Mikey said...
Subject: Re: another method
eze wrote:
The best part is there's no straining if you do it right. Just make sure to follow the recipe exactly.


The recipe tells you to strain it:
<I>Gently pour into heatproof container through fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.</I>

You would still need to get rid of the solids somehow.

Ghee and Clarified Butter are used interchangeably. You usually hear it referred to as Ghee in indian dishes and Clarified Butter in western dishes.


On August 26, 2005 at 09:02 PM, Michael Chu said...
Subject: Re: Ghee vs. Clarified Butter
Anonymous wrote:
What is the difference between Ghee & Clarified butter?

Traditionally ghee is made with milk (buffalo and sometimes cow) that has been allowed to develop some sourness before churning into butter. This provides more flavor to the butter.

The butter is then melted and water completely cooked off. Many recipes for clarified butter do not call for the complete evaporation of water in the butter.

So, I would say that ghee is a type of clarified butter, but not all clarified butter is ghee.


On August 27, 2005 at 01:08 PM, Angel Elf (guest) said...
Subject: Re: Ghee vs. Clarified Butter
Ghee is not exactly the same as clarified butter. When I make Ghee I don't let the solids brown. Click on this:

http://www.dreddyclinic.com/diet/ayurvedic/diet.htm#Ghee

P.S I enjoy your Blog very much.


On August 29, 2005 at 11:53 PM, snekse said...
Subject: Clarified Butter via Gravy Separator
Using a Gravy or Fat Separator makes the skimming part go much easier.

http://tinyurl.com/cherk


On August 30, 2005 at 01:28 PM, faustianbargain (guest) said...
Subject: ghee, my way.
hey, long time fan..first post here.

when i make ghee from sticks of store bought butter(unsalted only), i simply let it melt over the low to medium heat. i use sound as the indicator for doneness. when it stops making the sound, i take it off the heat. i also skim the top..the foam, although i know that many people dont do that. if i want the butter to be more like beurre noisette, i let it brown or better still, i drop the sticks of butter when the pan is really really hot. the colour can vary from a milky white to a golden brown..and when overdone, a dark brown.

i have never heard of the sourness factor in traditional ghee. it might be true. i have also made ghee from the butter i churned from the cream. for a short time, a milkman used to stop by and deliver the milk straight from the udder. (btw, watching someone milk a cow is *fascinating*) after boiling it, i'd let it cool down. after it cools down, there will be a layer of cream. this, i deposit in a little container for about two weeks. after i have collected enough, the cream can be churned to seperate the whey and the butter. the seperated butter goes through the same process as the above method of making ghee from store bought sticks of butter.

i prefer buffalo milk which has more fat than cow's milk. the butter from the former is slightly yellow while the butter from the cow is 'white'.

towards the end, instead of straining the milk solids, i like to spoon the clear ghee into a seperate container. i sometimes add fresh curry leaves right after it is removed from the heat. it sizzles and adds a certain flavour dimension to the ghee that i cannot quite describe. it is delicious tho'...

-faustianbargain-


On September 04, 2005 at 09:47 PM, Michael (guest) said...
Subject: Curry leaves?
I read
Quote:
faustianbargain's
BLOG from August 30th and was a bit confused about his trick of adding
Quote:
fresh curry leaves
to his version of Ghee. My understanding of curry is that it is made up of various spices which can change from person to person. i.e. that there are many different curry recipes. I've never heard of curry leaves. Can someone elaborate.

Love this site.

Michael


On September 05, 2005 at 02:37 PM, jimjimjim9 said...
Trading meal preps with an Indian family can expand "spice horizons" past anything that Christopher Columbus ever had in mind. Just make friends with the local Indian grocer and a network can evolve. Get ready to eat with your scooped hand.

The term "curry", as we americans relate to it from the yellow 4 ounce metal tin named "curry powder", is a result of the British returning from India and wanting to duplicate an "average" of the spicy dishes they had experienced. Try here: http://redhotcurry.com/entertainment/books/sbasu1.htm . There are lots of web refs to expand the story.

Remember that real Indian cooks have dozens of seed spices on hand, and roast them and grind fresh for each unique meal. See "garam masala", as in:
http://www.food-india.com/ingredients/i001_i025/i003.htm
The 4 ounce can is one of many possible garam masalas.

The "Curry leaf" is a different item altogether. It is a leaf (a shrub with compound leaves). It has distinct but different culinary uses. A few links:

http://www.globalgourmet.com/food/kgk/2001/0901/kgk092901.html

http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/generic_frame.html?Murr_koe.htm

http://www.asiafood.org/glossary_2.cfm?wordid=3260

Note that the WORD in many languages is the phonetic "ka-ree". Thus, the sun-besotted Brits easily confused the issue, importing a wonderful product (a canned garam masala) with a cross-linked name.


On September 05, 2005 at 07:58 PM, Michael (guest) said...
Subject: Curry Leaves
Thank you jimjimjim9 for your post. It is extemely informative. Very nice work.

Michael


On September 08, 2005 at 08:03 AM, faustianbargain said...
sorry i missed your question, Michael. what jimjimjim9 says..

thanks, jimjimjim9. i couldnt have said it better. very informative.

faustianbargain.


On September 09, 2005 at 06:56 AM, Berkana said...
Subject: Ghee (beurre noisette) tastes, smells way better
According to Alton Brown, butter that's been heated until the milk sugars caramelize is ghee. (Heat it over medium until it foams a second time, and when the foam subsides, let it cool, then strain it.) I don't know how accurate this is, but I know that it's also called "beurre noisette", and I know that it tastes and smells way better than plain ol' clarified so long as it is not over-burnt. When enhanced with a bit of fine sea salt, it's awsome on butter, makes better baklava, etc. etc.


On September 09, 2005 at 07:08 AM, Berkana said...
Subject: A superior way of making clarified butter
I've tried many methods of making clarified butter, including Alton Brown's, and the old fashioned labor intensive melt and skim routine, but I've recently discovered a far superior method of making clarified butter. It's superior because it is not only less labor intensive, but it removes the milk solids much more completely, and wastes much less of the milkfat that is otherwise wasted when skimming off foam and trying to separate the milkfat from the water.

Here's how I do it: I cut up butter and melt it in a saucepot, but I keep it on the heat until all the water boils off and the milk solids start to dry and clump together. (I don't mean to gross anyone out, but at the stage I'm talking about, the milk solids look like flaky ear wax.) Stop the heat at this point if you just want plain old clarified butter; if you keep heating it, the milk sugars will caramelize, and you'll have beurre noisette, which is good but not suitable for some applications requiring clarified butter. Then, I let it sit and cool until it is less than 200 degrees Fahrenheit. (So it won't melt the plastic on my super fine wire mesh coffee filter.) Once it's cool, I pour it all through one of those super fine wire mesh coffee filters arranged over a jar or some other storage vessel, and scrape all the solids from the pot into the filter so the fat can drip out.

The benefits of this method include saved labor, and unlike Alton Brown's method, this method removes the milk solids much more completely.


On September 12, 2005 at 07:36 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Curry Leaves can be bought at any indian grocery. It's also known as Sweet Curry Leaf. It is a very special flavor. I love it. The leaves can also be frozen I hear.

The hare krishna cookbook "A Higher Taste" has a very detailed description on how to make ghee.

As for how long it keeps, I made some 8 months ago and have kept it in the fridge and its still good. Just remember to always use a clean spoon to scoop it out. Oh and store it in glass.

Ana53


On September 14, 2005 at 05:57 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Curry leaves
Coincidentally, I just put up a blog post about curry leaves and the origin of the "curry powder" spice blend. The short story: curry leaves are from the Murraya koenigii tree, known as kari-pak in Tamil. according to the Historical Dictionary of Indian Food, by Achaya. He says that curry is "[f]rom the Tamil word kari, a term for black pepper...the term originally denoted any spiced dish that accompanied south Indian food, and was first so referred to...as early as in AD 1502"

The full post is here

Marc
Berkeley, CA


On November 30, 2005 at 03:03 PM, Batman Svejk said...
Subject: Restaurant trick for making clarified butter quickly
I used to work in a restaurant, and there I learned a trick for making clarified butter quickly. Melt your butter in the microwave in a square container, let it settle a bit, and skim the top. Then pour the fat off the top over one of the flat sides.

This allows you to pour more fat off before you start to pour milk solids as well. You'll still have to spoon some off, throw some out, or do some straining, but if you're in a hurry and you're willing to waste a little fat (as is nearly always the case in a restaurant setting) this is a great trick.


On February 01, 2006 at 09:45 PM, km (guest) said...
Subject: Nutritional change?
Hi all -

Hopefully this isn't a silly newbie question: How does clarifying the butter change it's nutritional value?


On March 05, 2006 at 12:28 AM, octopod (guest) said...
Wouldn't souring the milk correspond more-or-less exactly with culturing of milk traditionally done for butter in Western cuisine? If so, you could duplicate the effect by getting "cultured butter" and making your ghee of that.


On April 14, 2006 at 03:04 PM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: to clarify butter
I melt a large quantity of butter in the microwave oven in a wide utensil. I then place it overnight in the refrigerator. The next day, I lift off the solidfied fat and pour the milky liquid in something else i.e. string beans, rice pudding... By using butter that is cultured, such as French (delicious) then the clarified butter is richer tasting. Beurre noisette is browned butter, which is delicious but not clarified. Claudia


On October 12, 2006 at 04:36 AM, imenendez (guest) said...
Subject: Please
somebody write in spanish, this proceed, i don´t understand everything.
Thank you!!


On November 16, 2006 at 07:33 AM, john (guest) said...
Subject: affective alternative method
I have always had a great deal of success simply melting butter in a coffee cup in a microwave, and then spilling off the clarified portion through a tablespoon resting against the inside of the cup. The time in the microwave is only a few seconds, and the qty produced is usually sufficient for whatever recipe you're working on.

This is a perfect alternative to no-stick "Pam" or whatever. Works wonders for omelets etc.

Someone asked about Ghee...I believe the difference is that ghee is heated to a point of fragrance sometime after melting but before caramelization. I think it's heated more. We should ask our Indian friends.


On November 29, 2006 at 05:51 PM, Double boiler (guest) said...
I don't want to burn the butter - can I make this in a double boiler (sp?) instead? Does it need to burn?


On November 30, 2006 at 07:27 PM, GaryProtein said...
You can make it in a double boiler. Some people like the taste of lightly heated Ghee or clarified butter and some like the flavor of butter that has been heated (cooked) to a higher temperature before filtering.


On April 10, 2007 at 09:36 PM, sam_thorno (guest) said...
clarified butter and ghee are the same thing, judt diff names


On April 11, 2007 at 01:25 AM, GaryProtein said...
sam_thorno wrote:
clarified butter and ghee are the same thing, judt diff names


No, they aren't. Guest John is correct about what he said. Ghee is clarified butter that has been further heated and cooked until it has a more nutty flavor and is slightly darker in color.


On July 10, 2007 at 03:13 PM, Watt (guest) said...
garyprotein is correct.
Ghee uses the old 'Maillard reaction' to produce flavours from the milk proteins and lactose in the butter. The oil-liking flavours (nutty/roasted) are then extracted into the fat that remains to form the flavoured ghee.

just thoughts
Watt


On July 18, 2007 at 03:33 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: Does making ghee "burn off" cholesterol?
I know that sounds like an odd question. But having worked as a chef for over 20 years, I was recently surprized when I found an entry in an ayurvedic book that describes the slow process of making ghee (as described above). It then goes on to claim that ayurvedic grand poobahs believe that process burns off the cholesterol. It sounds odd to me, and I thought I would ask you guys for clarification.

Thanks,
Laurie


On July 15, 2008 at 07:24 PM, Memphis Man (guest) said...
Subject: Clarified Butter, the Alton Brown way
I am looking for the Alton Brown method for clarifying butter. Normal heating process, but he mentions something about allowing it to cool in the fridge overnight and I swear he mentioned something about adding water so everything separates. He had it in a bowl and basically said that the hockey puck was a nice way to have it stored for ease of use. Now I found the ghee recipe, but it's not it. There's a cooling step. Or am I just way off base here?

Oh and one more thing, how to you make lemon butter without breaking the consistency?

Thanks all!


On July 15, 2008 at 07:37 PM, Memphis Man (guest) said...
Subject: RE: Clarified Butter, the Alton Brown way
FOUND IT.

Melt a pound of butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat and slowly cook until the bubbling ceases and the liquid turns clear, 30-40 minutes.

Strain and cool, being sure to leave any solids in the bottom of the pan.

Or, once the butter has cleared, remove from heat and add two inches of hot tap water. Since it's less dense than water, the now clarified butter will float to the top.

And in a few hours in the refrigerator will solidify it into a big yellow Frisbee that you can lift out and use. Use it immediately or wrap in wax paper and refrigerate or add foil and freeze it for up to 2 months.


On July 15, 2008 at 08:15 PM, Dilbert said...
Memphis -

clarified butter is quite simply butter fat without solids.

the straining gets you 99% of the way there. addition of water actually serves to provide a place for the odd left ofter bits to settle. without the water at the bottom (of the bowl) any congealing solids would be inside what is the "floating" layer.

lemon butter: it's an emulsion. whip like crazy . . .


On March 04, 2009 at 05:36 AM, an anonymous reader said...
Subject: ghee in a crock-pot
I put 1 pound unsalted butter in a small crock-pot on low with the lid secured . Within a few hours the solids are on top. The butter is in three layers. Top: solids foamy, if cooked longer it will become crispy; middle: butter oil, clear and golden; bottom: a watery whey like fluid (I drink that -- has a mild buttermilk like taste).

Spoon (skim) off the solids on top into a separate bowl, I give mine to my dogs (they especially like it when its crispy).

Using oven mitts, slowly pour the butter oil through a fine mesh strainer (like a tea strainer) into a heat safe container, glass is best. This will catch bits of solids that may have been missed after skimming. STOP pouring before the lowest layer of liquid, which is not yellow, infiltrates the ghee container.

Use or discard the liquid at the bottom. When the ghee (butter oil) has cooled, close the container tightly and enjoy the rich flavor ghee imparts to food.

The longer the butter is in the crock-pot, the more water will evaporate off. I sometimes start the process in the morning before leaving the house for the day and finish when I'm back in the evening. This process does not require being very attentive, just don't put it on high; it will burn.

One more thing: if you stir the contents of the crock-pot up, you have to give the mix time to resettle and separate out into the three layers before skimming off the solids and pouring off the ghee.

BentNote (Guest)


On December 24, 2009 at 07:26 AM, infanati (guest) said...
Subject: As requested in Spanish
Como la grasa utilizada para cocinar, la mantequilla proporciona un sabor único y aroma a muchos platos. El problema con la mantequilla es que antes de llegar a su humo punto, los sólidos de leche se han ido Browning pasado a la combustión. Extracción de la sólidos de la leche y las impurezas que nos permite mantener la mayor parte del sabor de la, mientras que la mantequilla de poder cocinar a altas temperaturas. Mantequilla sin sólidos de la leche se llama mantequilla clarificada o elaboración de mantequilla (aunque algunos restaurantes sirven sólo mantequilla derretida establecido, mantequilla). El proceso de (aclaración de la mantequilla) es bastante simple.

Aclaración de la mantequilla es tan simple como mantequilla derretida y dejar que la leche sólidos se asienten o aumento de la grasa. Se debe impedir que tarda mientras se calienta la mantequilla, así que utilizar una sartén pesada que no tiene ningún tipo de puntos de acceso (ver Materiales común de utensilios de cocina para obtener más información sobre hotspots). Cuando se utiliza la mantequilla salada, es difícil de adivinar cuánto la sal se mantendrá en la mantequilla clarificada. Mucha de la sal se puede encontrar en los sólidos de leche, ya que se instala o espumas, pero el importe exacto ser diferente cada vez. Uso de mantequilla sin sal para eliminar cualquier incertidumbre (puede agregar sal a la mantequilla clarificada después de lograr la deseada salinidad).

Para que aproximadamente 3 / 4 taza de mantequilla clarificada, derretir una taza (225 g) de mantequilla en una cacerola pequeña (a 1-recipiente, se muestra en la imagen) a fuego lento. Con una cacerola bien, te puede dejar allí a fuego lento mientras se hace otra cosa y poco a poco la mantequilla se derrita. En cuanto el calor se derrite la mantequilla más rápido, pero los sólidos de la leche puede comenzar a grabar, así, resistir la tentación. En su lugar, usted puede cortar el la mantequilla en trozos para acelerar la fusión. Además, si usted no tiene un pequeño cacerola, lo mejor es utilizar más la mantequilla. Demasiado poco de mantequilla en una gran de diámetro pan hará difícil separar los sólidos de la grasa
posterior.

Cuando la mantequilla se derrita por completo, continúa calentando a fuego bajo. Algunos sólidos de leche se caen al fondo de la olla, mientras que otros se lugar como la espuma. Como los sólidos de leche llegan a la cima, se pueden desnatada apagado. (O bien, puede ser removido cuando la mantequilla se enfríe.)

En este punto, puede eliminar la mantequilla por el calor y la capa superior de descuento en todos la espuma. Deje que la mantequilla se enfríe un poco para permitir que varios de los sólidos se asienten y luego vierta o una cuchara la grasa aclaró, dejando el resto de la leche sólidos en la sartén.

Alternativamente, se vierte la mantequilla derretida caliente a través de una gasa para filtrar la espuma y sólidos que se han asentado, la captura de la mantequilla clarificada en un frasco.

O bien, vierta la mantequilla en un recipiente caliente, deje que se aparte, mientras que de enfriamiento y luego refrigerar. Después de que se ha solidificado, se puede fácilmente raspar la capa de espuma endurecida de la rigidez de mantequilla clarificada.

A pesar de mantequilla clarificada puro no tiene por qué ser de refrigeración, que recomendamos guardar la mantequilla clarificada en la nevera (un poco de leche sólidos puede estar aún presente y puede causar la mantequilla para ir rancio). Usar la mantequilla clarifi cada como lo haría el uso de mantequilla regular (una cucharada decucharada) en las recetas.

Robert Wolke, en Lo que Einstein le dijo a su Cook, sugiere el uso de la izquierda más de sólidos de leche para colmar las palomitas de maíz. Suena como una buena idea para mí! (También, Wolke menciona que no hay lactosa en la mantequilla clarificada, de modo que la lactosa personas sensibles deben ser capaces de disfrutar de mantequilla clarificada sin a los efectos incómodos a aquellos de nosotros que son intolerantes a la lactosa son bien conscientes.)


On July 28, 2011 at 11:30 PM, 99bonk (guest) said...
Subject: clarified butter

I like to clarify butter in a double boiler - takes a little longer but no risk of burning. I use a conical paper filter (Melitta type) in a metal funnel and strain the clarified butter into a glass jar. I have found that Paul Newman's salsa jars are just the right size for the amount of clarified butter you get from melting a pound of regular butter.


On February 09, 2014 at 09:59 PM, Pomegranate (guest) said...
Subject: Clarified butter
This is such a great site!
I was wondering if anyone had experience or read about adding herbs, medicinal or not, to clarified butter. I know the Indians add some stuff to their ghee while it cooks and Ayurvedic practitioners I believe add medicines into it. It's hard to find this info tho. If medicinal substances are added, when is the best time to add them: as the butter cooks or afterward after it cools and separates? Should the herbs be filtered out or not? What is the actual process of the butter oils extracting the medicines and how it is different from the water and alcohol extractions when making standard tinctures? I assume that the fat-soluble substances in herbs will naturally get into the butter, but what about the other ingredients: minerals, vitamins, proteins, etc? Will they all be lost with the water? What is the comparison of alcohol and oils as far as their solvent properties are concerned?

thanks a lot,
Helen


On February 09, 2014 at 10:33 PM, Dilbert said...
some flavor / "other" compounds are soluble in water, some in alcohol, some in fats/oils. which solutes in what is not a 'all for one and one for all' situation - some specific compound will be extracted faster / sooner / more / less better so than in another diluent.

research polar vs non-polar solvents, for starters.

by and large, medicinal or culinary, either you use the right solvent or you don't get the results you want.

how to . . . hot/cool . . . strain / don't strain . . .
the problem is not so much how to but an issue of safety.
anything that has been growing the dirt/soil has the potential to be contaminated with botulism spores.

short of using a pressure cooker to get the temp above 240'F - keeping / storing homemade extractions / diffusions is dicey business.

keep refrigerated, keep no longer than two weeks.


On June 28, 2014 at 03:01 PM, Ralph (guest) said...
Subject: clarified butter
I saw on youtube a guy making clarified butter. I tried it and its works great! Just take your melted and cooked butter, pour it when the temp is about 140 F into a ziplock bag. poke a hole in one corner of the bag, hang it on one of your upper kitchen cabinet handles; tie to the handle. The butter, fat and milk solids separate in a few minutes. Poke a hole in the bottom of the ziplock back, drain the bottom stuff onto a paper plate then place a container under to catch the good stuff then move the paper plate to catch the rest of the bad stuff. So simple and easy!


On June 28, 2014 at 04:20 PM, Jim Cooley said...
Ralph,

I love your idea!

Michael, ghee will last for years. Don't know why you think it needs to be pasteurized; but perhaps I misunderstood.

Jim

: