What is Clarified Butter?
Clarifying butter is the act of cooking high-quality butter and removing the milk solids along with cooking off the water in the butter.
Why would a chef want to clarify butter?
At some point or another, we've enjoyed delicious seafood dipped in melted butter. Few things are tastier. It so happens to also be clarified butter. The clarifying process is removing all the milk solids, which allows the butter to be in its purest form. The clarified butter also has a different texture than melted butter. The overall experience is smoother and cleaner tasting butter that has a lighter viscosity.
Keyword to Remember: "Viscosity" a descriptor pertaining to the consistency of a liquid or sauce. ie, thickness or thiness.
Reasons You Would Want To Clarify Butter
The key reason behind clarifying butter is it raises the smoke point of the butter.
"Smoke Point" is the point at which a cooking oil will begin to burn or oxidize and become rancid.
Here is a list of a few oils and their natural smoke points. All these oils/fats have low smoke points. Cooking temperatures are low for these oils/fats
|Cooking Oils / Fats||Smoke Point °C||Smoke Point °F|
|Hemp seed oil||165°C||330°F|
|Semirefined canola oil||177°C||350°F|
The next reason to clarify butter is to remove the water. Which will boil at 100C / 212F. Which can cause spattering while cooking. Ouch
Using Clarified butter In baking, clarified butter's lack of water means that it either can't or has a harder time develop gluten as you would with simple melted butter. It's actually more similar to other oils than it is to melted butter when baking. Very cool baker tip.
When it comes to Ghee, the understanding is, in part, Ghee was originally used on the Indian continent and surrounding areas. The process of creating the Ghee made a product that would act as a preservative and offers a longer shelf life. Clarified butter can be stored at room temperature due to the purification process. Once the butter cools down to room temperature the butter will set up back into a solid-state.
Clarified Butter Storage
- In a Glass Jar
- On the counter, sealed within the water
- Poured into butter sticks and frozen for later use
Here's a photo of a French Butter Dish - Lives on the kitchen counter. One side has clarified butter, and the other filled with water to cut off air contaminants
What is Ghee & How to Make Ghee?
Ghee is a type clarified butter that originated from the Indian subcontinent; and is commonly used in South Asian and Middle Eastern cuisines, traditional medicine, and religious rituals. Ghee is made the same way as clarified butter but the key differnence is the cooking process. To create Ghee you have to cook the clarified butter longer creating a nutty unlaying aroma and flavor profile.