Clarified butter is the anhydrous milk fat that is obtained from regular butter. The process of making it involves the separation of water and milk solids from the butter. It is a process of melting, through which the water gets evaporated and the remaining milk solids get settled down at the bottom of the pan. The commercial process of making this butter involves direct evaporation of its water content, along with decantation, centrifugation, and vacuum drying. It is predominantly used in Middle Eastern and Indian cuisine, while its variants can be found in the authentic English and French cuisine, known as 'nutty butter'. This butter is the best option for deep frying, as it has the highest smoke point. It also has a longer shelf life compared to regular butter. Given below are some substitutes for it.
Reasons for Substitution
Apart from its high smoke point, this butter is found to be very beneficial for health. 'Ghee', its Indian version (which is melted for a longer period of time), is found to be very useful for digestion. This butter is also beneficial for people who are lactose intolerant as it contains a limited amount of milk solids. It is important to remember that it has similar nutrition content as regular, unsalted butter. As a result, it is high in calories and saturated fats. This is one of the reasons why health conscious people look for its substitutes.
Another reason to find substitutes is its scarcity. Many times, you may not be able to find this butter when you need it. Hence, it is important to have other easily available substances which can be used in its place. There are two options that you can consider - one is to find a substitute, and the other is to make the butter at home. The first option has a drawback as far as the taste of the recipe is concerned. For example, you cannot eat pancakes that are made using canola oil or olive oil. However, there are a few recipes where the substitutes enhance the taste.
Commonly, usage of various forms of cooking oil is suggested as a substitute. You can use olive oil, canola oil, and other vegetable oils. You can also use regular butter, but remember that using it for deep frying can cause over-browning of the food. Many chefs also suggest using cooking spray. You can grease the pan with it, and then proceed with the cooking. Otherwise, you can add a dash of extra virgin olive oil to regular butter, combine them well, and use this mixture. In this way, you can prevent over-browning of the food.
Making it at Home
Clarified butter and ghee are easily available at food stores, especially the Indian food markets. In case you are not able to find it, you can prepare it at home. Itfth takes a few simple steps which anybody can follow. To make ⅓ cup of clarified butter, melt an 8 oz stick of regular butter in a sauce pan. Make sure you melt it on a low flame. When it is completely melted, you can easily distinguish a thin layer of milk solids settled at the bottom of the pan. Remove the pan from the heat, let the butter stand for a while, and then, using a cheesecloth, mesh strainer, or a regular tea strainer, strain out the milk solids.
You can easily find clarified butter in the local food markets. In case you want to cut back on the calories, try using it in small quantities or substituting it with the above options.