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.
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. [IMG]
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.) [IMG]
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. [IMG]
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.)
Posted: Fri Aug 26, 2005 3:19 am Post 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.
Posted: Tue Aug 30, 2005 1:28 pm Post 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'...
Posted: Sun Sep 04, 2005 9:47 pm Post subject: Curry leaves?
BLOG from August 30th and was a bit confused about his trick of adding
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.
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.
Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 6:56 am Post 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.
Posted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 7:08 am Post 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.