How often have you seen -œclarified butter- in an ingredient list and, not knowing what it is, just used regular butter for the recipe? The dish may have turned out fine – or you may have ended up with burnt butter in the pan. Recipes call for clarified butter for a reason. Read on to finally learn what clarified butter is, why you use it and how to make it.
What is clarified butter?
Clarified butter — also called “ghee” — is a clear butter liquid created by removing the milk solids and water from regular butter. Clarified butter has a slightly different flavor and isn’t quite as rich as whole butter. But if you want a buttery taste in a dish that calls for oil, clarified butter is the way to go.
Culinary benefits of clarified butter
Does using clarified butter really make a difference when cooking? Yes! The biggest advantage of clarified butter over whole butter is that it has a much higher smoking point, meaning it does not burn as easily as whole butter. Clarified butter can be cooked at a higher temperature because the milk solids and water have been removed.An additional benefit of clarified butter is that it will almost never go bad, if kept in the refrigerator in a covered container. You can clarify butter and keep it for months without it going sour.
Uses for clarified butter
Clarified butter can be used for any dish that will be heated at an extremely high temperature, such as frying, sauteing, and making sauces like hollandaise and bearnaise. It can also be used in baking when melted butter is called for in a recipe.
How to make clarified butter
Always use unsalted butter when clarifying. Melt it slowly in a heavy-bottomed pan over low heat. As a general rule, you should clarify 25 percent more butter than needed for a recipe because clarifying decreases the original amount of butter.Step 1: Place 1 stick of unsalted butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.Step 2: Heat butter over low heat until three layers form. Do not stir.Step 3: After the butter is melted, skim the top layer of foam off and discard it.Step 4: Remove the pan from the heat and let cool for a few minutes to allow the butter to settle.Step 5: Place a piece of fine cheesecloth over a bowl or use a fine sieve to strain butter, making sure none of the fat passes through. Discard the fat in the cheesecloth. The liquid in the bottom of the bowl is the clarified butter.Note: If you don’t have cheesecloth or a sieve, carefully decant the butter into a bowl, making sure none of the fat falls into the clarified butter.