KP 001| How to Make Clarified Butter

Clarified butter, (aka drawn butter), is whole, unsalted butter that is melted down and allowed to separate so that the milk solids can be removed. This clarification process raises the smoke point and makes it great for cooking.

The easiest way to clarify butter is over a water bath or double boiler. This allows you to gently heat the butter to the boiling point (212°F/100°C at sea level). What happens next is the water bubbles up out of the butter and evaporates, and the whey proteins form a "foam" on top.

Eventually this foam will dehydrate and collapse, leaving you a thin skin of whey protein on top and dry casein particles on the bottom. To finish the process, simply skim off the “skin” and pour off the clarified butter, being careful not to pour off any of the casein that's settled to the bottom.

At Stella, our standard cooking fat is a 50/50 mix of clarified butter and canola oil. Canola has a high smoke point and neutral flavor. The addition of clarified butter gives our proteins, especially fish, a beautiful, golden-brown glaze that can't be easily reproduced by other cooking fats. Since clarified butter is pure fat, it is shelf stable at room temperature for a couple of weeks to a month as long as it's stored in an airtight container. If stored in the refrigerator, clarified butter will last for months.

What is Ghee

Ghee is a clarified butter made using almost the identical technique as above, but is cooked in a pot instead of a double boiler. Because the milk solids come into direct contact with heat, they start to brown, giving the finished Ghee a dark brown color and a nutty aroma.

Ghee is often used in Indian and Middle Eastern Cuisine, especially in the preparation of rice. It has an extremely high smoke point (480°F/248°C), which makes it perfect for high temperature frying, sautés and stir-frys.

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There are 14 Comments

fbeaton's picture

Hi Chef,

Last night I tried making a batch of clarified according to your instructions (simmered with a double boiler for about 25 minutes before skimming).  The end product looked pretty good, so I mixed it 50/50 with canola and funneled it into a large squeeze bottle, then left the mixture on the counter.  A couple hours later, I noticed it had thickened a bit (still liquid, but definitely thicker) and the color had changed from that translucent golden color to an opaque, buttery yellow.  Is this normal, or did I do something wrong?

jacob burton's picture

This is normal, especially depending on the ambient temperature of your kitchen. Some oils and fats solidify at higher temperatures then others. Clarfied butter definately solidifies at a higher temperature then canola.

Porkbutter's picture

I just made my first batch of 50/50 and have it in a squeeze bottle, but I'm not sure how to store it.  I assume it should be refrigerated.  Will the 50/50 harden in the fridge?

jacob burton's picture

Yes, it will harden in the fridge. You can easily store at room temperature since it is pure fat and no longer has fat solids. Place it in a cool dark place like a cubboard away from your stove and it should be fine for at least a month, if not longer.

jacob burton's picture

Since you're left with pure butter fat (the milk portion of butter is removed) then yes, all the water or "moisture" is taken out during the clarification process.

jacob burton's picture

Some things just don't make sense to save. In my opinion, this is one of them. I've worked for chefs who saved it before for mounting sauces, but I never personally liked the result.

To me, it's like tossing some of your sourdough starter when feeding it; it's simply part of the process.

jacob burton's picture

Hey Dread Rasta,

Sorry for the delayed response. Your 50/50 mixture is fine. I find at cooler room temperatures, clarified butter is more dense than canola oil, so it can look separated. Just stir it together before using it for cooking and you'll be good to go.

Let me know if you have any more questions.

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