This looks like a very simple method. My Indian recipes always call for ghee (or clarified butter), so now I'll have to make up a jar using this method to keep on hand. Thanks!
If I am not mistaken, ghee is traditionally made from clarified browned butter (beurre noisette), while "clarified butter" usually hasn't been browned. The flavors produced by browning the butter solids (proteins) are quite different (almost nutty with hints of a vanilla aroma) than plain clarified butter.
Most recipes I see on the internet say to use unsalted butter. Is there any reason to use salted butter?
How is clarifying butter normally done? Is it really so very difficult?
Props for posting reader generated articles!
How long will clarified butter last in the fridge?
Dominic is right. Ghee and clarified butter are not the same thing. To make ghee, the butter is cooked longer til it is a little brown and smells nutty. It makes a big difference in flavour when you use real ghee instead of just clarified butter.
If you start out with very clean vessels, clarified butter could last months in the refrigerator, but if you tend to use it, you won't have to worry about it being around very long. The length of time it lasts is more dependent on how clean everything starts out than the actual clarified butter spoiling.
The salt will be almost exclusively in the water/protein layer, so from a chemistry perspective, it will not make any difference with your end product.
In laboratory separations, I often find it helpful to add NaCl to the aqueous layer to increase polarity; it helps reduce an emulsion at the interface between two layers. By this token, using salted butter should hasten the separating process.
I am a chemical engineering student, and always thought it would be wonderful to use lab equipment for cooking purposes --> I was very excited to see this article. Thanks!!
I'm glad you liked the technique, but DON'T use a laboratory sep funnel unless you have a large one with a large hole in the stopcock. That was my first attempt over 20 years ago, and it didn't work because my sep funnel had too small a hole for the proteinacious matter to pass through-it just clogged up. I would also add, the sep funnel was VERY difficult and time consuming to clean. Just use the plastic bag. I've been there!
The reason for using unsalted butter in most recipes is because one doesn't know how much salt the butter contains. By using unsalted butter one can control the amount of salt in the dish. Originally salt was added to butter as a preservative not as a flavoring agent.
Someone once said, "All ghee is a type of clarified butter, but not all clarified butter is ghee."
Is clarified butter solid or liquid refridgerated?
Clarified butter is solid, even if just allowed to cool to room temperature, and is a little harder than regular butter at the same temperature. This is especially noticeable from the refrigerator.
i stumbled upon your site. What fun! Love the ideas
Whenever I've needed clarified butter that doesn't need to be perfectly clarified (mostly for high, but not too high, temperature pan-frying), I just melt a stick of butter in the microwave and then refridgerate the result. The butter will still seperate and the refridgeration will make it quite easy to seperate the milk solids from the fat. If one uses a narrow bowl (or a small cup), the layers are sufficiently thick to make the process very quick and nearly as thorough as traditional processes.
hmmm... i tend to use that melt and refrigerate method myself. but what i'm really interested in is where can we use the "refuse" or the milky solids leftover from clarifying butter? seems like such a waste to throw out. i'm considering its use for mashed potatoes and for enriching cream soups. what do you think?
In India, the butter used is generally prepared at home, accumulated over time (week or two) by converting whole milk to butter milk. While heating the butter a small twig of turmeric is added to impart a golden yellow colour.
This is a nice technique. I haven't come across too many recipes calling for ghee, but I will use this method the next time.
Enjoyed learning out to simplify the process of clarifying butter!
Wow all that work to clarify butter. Here's another way that has worked for me. 1, Melt the butter in microwave oven in a 1 quart pyrex measuring pitcher. 2. Pour the melted butter into a plastic container that has a good sealable lid. I favor cottage cheese tubs. 3. Put the liquid into the freezer chamber of your refrigerator for about an hour. 4. Remove the frozen mass from the container by running warm water over the out side of the tub. Note that the three layers of milk solids, clarified butter and protein glop are distinct. 5, Rinse the upper and lower layers with luke warm water. The clarified butter will not melt, but the mike solkds and the protein glop will just wash away with the salt, 6. Put the butter back in the tub, seal the tub with it's lid and the tub back into the freezer. Use it whenever needed; I have kept the frozen block up to 4 months.
Calrified butter is used because regular butter burns when heated.
psyched by the idea of being able to separate the layers in this way. i'm only concerned that some toxic hydrocarbon chains from the plastic might be attracted to the warm lipids in the butter. what do you think? is there anyway a similar sep-funnel-inspired separation could be done with glass?
The plastic bags are polyethylene, and the butter shouldn't be poured in until it cools. Besides, hot foods with fats are generally poured into plastic food storage bags. You are not subjecting the bags to the same heat as when you microwave a fatty beef stew leftover in a plastic container, which you shouldn't do anyway.
If you can hold the food in your hand (or mouth) that you are placing in the bags, there is no problem.
DON'T use a real sep funnel. I've been there and they are very hard to clean, and they clog at the stopcock. It isn't worth the appearance of finesse they can demonstrate when it comes time to clean them.
Clarifying butter is essentially the same as removing fat from stock, just pour the heated mixture into a container and let it cool. Place it in the freezer until the liquid is frozen. The resultant layers can be separated then with a knife. Using salted butter and/or adding salt will end up in the stock portion, so be careful if it is the stock you wish to remove the fat from. When making stock from roasted bones, I often wish to save both the stock (for soups and gravies) and the fat (for the roux).
A little perchloric acid (70%) will take care of that problem. :shock:
Old Chem Major
Let me know when perchloric acid becomes a standard ktichen item. :lol: I'll concede, you never know what a person who owns a separatory funnel and ring stand may also have in their house!
this is ridiculous. clarified butter is simple: just melt it, wait a minute or two (it will still be liquid if hot enough) then pour onto whatever you're making, stopping before reaching the impurities/proteins.
Hyacinth Bucket was reported to favor the usage of a solid silver Sauce Separator... alas, another article to polish and store.
Engineers . . . .! Just melt the butter, let cool in a gravy seperator and drain the solids. Simple solution from a CFO (we like numbers, but for different reasons!). This takes about 5 minutes and involves 2 pieces of equipment - great from a productivity standpoint.
Gary Protien really nailed it. I cut the drain hole a ting bit too big. Water drained away so fast I lost some of the butter before I got the mason jar in place. I will always use this method. It rocks.
This is a funny site, though! Even the captcha is over-engineered!
How many engineers does it take to screw in a lightbulb? Depends -- where are we building the bulb plant? :)
Some things of note:
If you make one stick in a small stainless steel sauce pan, then let it cool to perhaps about 100 degrees, nearly all of the milk solids will stick to the bottom of the pan. I can only think of a handful of recipes that require more clarification. Simply pour it off. This will *not* work for non-stick teflon pans well. For a bit more refinement, use a standard fine mesh stainless skimmer or sieve when you our it off. Easy to clean. This works for larger amounts in bigger pans as well. Think about 1/4 to 5/8" deep when melted. No wasted plastic bag, string, nor hassle.
Another good tip: Get a silicone ice cube trays that have cavities measured in Tbsp and Tsps. Pour your warm clarified goodness into these and cover with plastic wrap (mostly to keep from spilling). Transfer to freezer. Once hard, put into freezer bag and store nearly indefinitely if you keep moisture out. This makes it easy to use as often you don't need very much and taking it out of the fridge, heating it up, measuring what you need, then returning it shortens the life of the product and is a time waster.
You can also "wash" clarified butter like you would lard to clean it up, but I think the method is kind of messy and wasteful unless you are making bunches of it. I have seen seafood restaurant kitchen staff do this, but they are working with gallons of the stuff.
Great idea and I'm sure the same technique will work with meat juices. I've always hated the idea of simply 'spooning off' the fat from the top of the juices when making gravy. I either leave too much fat there or I start to spoon away the good juices.
Yum, gravy missed gravy at thanksgiving, good trick for most like separations.
If you want excellent cookies, always use clarified butter in your recipe instead. You will have to plan ahead as this needs to be done and refrigerated before you can use this for most recipes.
The story *I* got is severalfold:
-since salt is a preservative, unsalted butter needs to be a higher grade to start with. So you are buying a better product.
-easier to manage the saltiness if you add it yourself.
-it "cooks better" whatever THAT means.
-"it's better because I say it's better." (I didn't argue)
First time visiting this site!
I have made clarified butter for years, but never came up with this bag trick- ah, the benefits of sharing knowledge.
I make it for our fishing trips in Canada- no worries about spoilage, and nothing, well, almost nothing tastes better than just-caught walleye fried in butter!
The solids etc. are saved, and used on sweet corn, baked potatoes, and anything else that cries out for butter.
first time visiting this site.. i really liked the way everything is explained just wanted to tell every1 that there is another process(south asian way) to make it which not only has longer shelf life and more easy i guess...
1.Take Unsalted Butter and put it in a heavy-bottomed pan on medium heat.
2. Allow it to melt and come to a boil.
3. Once it starts boiling, reduce the flame to a low and allow it to froth/foam.
4. Keep stirring to make sure it does not burn at the bottom.
5. Once there is a golden brown layer at the bottom, turn off the flame.
6. Tip: take a tablespoon of water and pour it into the pan on the ghee. It will bubble and all the foam will dissapear.
7. Allow it to cool down.
8. Sieve it into a clean, dry jar or container.
9. Allow it to come down to room-temperature and store.
1. Make Ghee in bulk and pour into small containers. Keep one in use out and rest in the refrigerator for longer shelf-life.
mix them together and put into rice pudding or oatmeal! tastes great! esp. if you're making ghee instead of regular clarified butter!
if you use the liquid and solid "extras" you need to have made this with unsalted butter!
Looks like a foolproof method, but it's so unnecessary to waste a plastic bag like that. What's wrong with using re-usable cheesecloth or muslin? Or just skimming the clarified butter off the top? Let's come up with more environmentally-friendly kitchen techniques! And the milk solids at the bottom are very tasty (especially if you keep cooking the butter to make ghee), add them to breads or whatever else needs some milky/buttery goodness.
According to "On Cooking" 5th Edition by Labensky, Haus, and Martel, ghee is a form of clarified butter in which the milk solids remain with the butterfat and are allowed to brown
Don't stir it but keep it on very low it tends to work better for separating the solids. If left undisturbed at a very low heat the protein on the top tends to conglomerate and is easier to then remove or at the least will stay together during your pour phase and not taint the finished product. The bottom will stick to almost any sauce pan without burning, non-stick or otherwise if heated and poured gently. The butter clarified slowly will clear not cloudy and bright golden colored.
What Grunchy said.
I don't know if anyone else has mentioned this, but my aunt had one of those "gravy separator" pitchers, where the spout attaches at the very bottom of the container. The idea being that you pour off the gravy, which is heavier than the fat and has sunk to the bottom, then stop when you get to the fat.
Seems like that would do for separating clarified butter, too.
Also, using the milk solids on popcorn? Yes! I've never understood why recipes always say to discard them. They are so flavorful! I mix them in sauces, like tomato sauce*, and add them on garlic bread for an extra hit of butter flavor.
*Yes, tomato sauce. I discovered, purely by accident or serendipity or instinct, when I was in my teens that adding a pat of butter to my plate of spaghetti softened the acid edge of the tomato sauce while leaving all the tomato flavor.
So, you (chemical) engineers, why does this work?
Someone conjectured to me once that the calcium in the butter binds with the acid. However it works, it lets someone like me, who breaks out in a rash from too much acid food, eat tomato sauce without dermal disasters.
Thanks again for great info and ideas.
I do my ghee with about 2 lb of butter at a time. I use salted butter because it's usually a little cheaper and I haven't noticed any end-result differences between salted and unsalted (other than the solids that retain all the salt).
At low heat, melt butter in a pan that's a few inches higher than the melted butter.
Continue heating at low heat until it starts to bubble, just a bit. Keep the heat pretty low so it stays at that slow bubble. Gently stir from time to time to encourage some of the water in the foam to evaporate off.
If you're making ghee, heat until the solids on the bottom begin to turn a golden brown. If just clarified butter, just until you think you've driven off enough moisture.
With a fine-mesh skimmer, pull off the floating solids that remain. Discard those solids, or use them as you wish.
Set up a jelly strainer over the container that will hold your clarified butter/Ghee, then gently pour the melted butter through the jelly strainer cloth. You will end up with nearly perfectly clarified butterfat, and very little loss. If you try to strain it without first skimming, the jelly-cloth will blind and it will take hours to filter.