Clarified butter is just pure butterfat without the milk solids and the water content. It is popularly used in Indian and Middle Eastern cooking. Butter is a solid fat and contains 80% butterfat, 17% water content, and 3% milk solids. The preparation of clarified butter separates the milk solids and the water content from the butterfat, and gives you pure, unadulterated butterfat that has a rich flavor. Another form of clarified butter is popularly known as 'ghee' in India. There is a slight difference between regular clarified butter and ghee. Ghee has a longer cooking time and a slightly nutty flavor, which is missing from clarified butter. Here we explain the procedure of preparing clarified butter, and the health benefits of consuming the same.
Steps to Prepare Clarified Butter
To make clarified butter, all you need is about two sticks of unsalted butter.
- Start the preparation procedure by melting the unsalted butter in a deep saucepan, on low heat. To prevent the butter from burning, you may use a double boiler.
- You will notice the formation of foam on the surface once the butter has started melting. This marks the separation of water from the butter. You will also notice the formation of a white residue. This marks the separation of the milk solids from the butterfat.
- After it has melted, allow the butter to simmer, and skim off the foam and milk solids using a ladle. You should be left with a clear, golden liquid after you have skimmed off the two.
- You may either discard the milk solids and foam, or store them to be used on a snack like popcorn.
- Remove the clarified butter from the heat and strain it through a mesh or a cheesecloth into a clean, dry jar and store.
- If you wish to prepare ghee, allow the butter to continue to simmer, and do not skim off the foam or white residue.
- As you continue to allow it to cook, you will notice the formation of solids that begin to settle at the bottom of the pan. The foam and white residue will eventually disappear, leaving you with a clear, golden liquid.
- Continue cooking till the solids turn a golden brown color, and the ghee turns into a translucent and rich, fragrant liquid. Remove from heat at this point. Do not allow it to overcook, as it will easily get burnt.
- Pour the ghee into a jar through a fine-mesh skimmer or a cheesecloth.
Clarified butter may be stored both, at room temperature, as well as in the refrigerator. It will last anywhere between six months to one year. Allow it to cool before using it. When allowed to cool, clarified butter becomes semi-solid. As mentioned earlier, ensure that the jar you use to store the clarified butter is absolutely dry, as even a little water can cause the growth of bacteria and spoil the clarified butter.
Advantages of Consuming Clarified Butter
Though the nutritional value of butter and clarified butter does not vary greatly, there are other advantages of preparing and using clarified butter in cooking, in limited amounts.
- The prime advantage of using clarified butter for cooking is its high smoke point. Regular butter browns and burns easily, thus making it difficult to cook for a long period. On the other hand, clarified butter can be used even for deep-frying, and gives you a buttery taste without burning.
- Ghee, the longer-cooked version of clarified butter, when used in small quantities is known to be good for digestion.
- Clarified butter is perfect for those who are lactose intolerant, simply because its preparation procedure helps in eliminating the milk solids from it.
- It is ideal to prepare clarified butter on your own, not only because it is a simple procedure, but also because the preparation procedure helps you ensure that no additives are added to it.
- Of course, if you are health-conscious, maybe it is better that you stick to healthier oils such as olive oil for cooking, because clarified butter, like butter, is rich in saturated fat. However, foods like pancakes cannot be prepared with olive oil, and a small amount of clarified butter used to prepare them can greatly enhance their flavors.
By learning how to make clarified butter, you are giving yourself a delicious alternative to regular butter, particularly if you are lactose intolerant. Just prepare a few of your favorite foods with clarified butter instead of plain ol' butter, and see the difference in the flavors. Here's a small hint: if you still want the flavor of clarified butter but not all the calories, combine it with your choice of a healthier oil, and relish the rich flavors without consuming all the saturated fat. Enjoy!