Clarifying Butter Article -
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How to Clarify Butter

An easy-to-follow, step-by-step tutorial.

"Clarifying" is the process of removing milk solids from butterfat, giving you a clear golden fat that can be heated to a higher temperature without burning than whole butter. This, combined with the fact it can be stored without going rancid, has made clarified butter the cooking fat of choice in India and South Asia for hundreds of years.

1. To make 1 cup of clarified butter you'll need 1¼ cup of butter. (You will lose approximately 25% of the original butter's total volume when clarifying.)

    2. Place butter in a saucepan over a very low heat. Let the butter melt slowly, do not stir the butter while it is melting.

      3. As the butter melts, it will separate into three layers. The top layer is a thin layer of foam, the middle layer contains the bulk of the liquid (weighing in at about 80% of the total), and the bottom layer is where the water and most of the milk solids are. This natural separation is what makes clarifying possible.

        4. Skim the foam off the surface of the butter, discard the foam. Be cautious to avoid dipping the ladle into the butterfat while skimming, as the fat should remain intact.

          5. At this point, there are two possible methods for removing the butterfat from the water on the bottom of the pan. The method we chose to illustrate is to decant the fat from the water.

            6. Carefully and slowly pour the fat into another container. You can see the water underneath the clear yellow butterfat. If you notice any of the water slipping into the fat, you may need to re-decant your new batch of clarified butter. If there is any water in the clarified butter, and you try adding it to a hot pan, the water will immediately boil when it hits the pan, causing the hot clarified butter to splatter out of the pan and potentially burning the cook.

            An alternate method for separating the fat from the water is to use a ladle and skim the fat up and out of the pan, making sure not to let any of the water get into the ladle.

            Pour your newly clarified butter to a separate container, and discard the water and small amount of remaining milk fat.

              7. If the clarified butter sits for a moment, you might notice more foam float to the top; use a spoon to remove this last bit of foam.

              Use clarified butter to make these recipes:

              Dec. 18, 2009 9:45 pm
              Can't one just let the fat solidify and separate the layers that way?
              Dec. 24, 2009 8:55 pm
              I put mine in the frig and let the butter become solid. Then I take that chunk of butter out and skim off the gunky bottom.
              Jan. 25, 2010 9:19 am
              can you buy clariied butter?
              Jan. 31, 2010 1:21 pm
              Sure. Many stores sell it under the name Ghee in the international section (Indian)
              Apr. 11, 2010 12:58 pm
              spooning out most of the solids is great. Just slowly decant remainder thru a fine sieve lined with a couple layers of cheesecloth
              Jul. 21, 2010 2:44 pm
              how long will it keep without going rancid?
              Aug. 1, 2010 4:12 pm
              LOL - I always just strain mine through a paper towel. Works perfectly!
              Aug. 11, 2010 7:15 pm
              sounds like a lot of work, rather buy ghee.
              Oct. 25, 2010 9:27 am
              musiclee: It does not go rancid. I have alot of clarified butter in containers on my shelf. When I need some, I heat it up, use what I need and then put the balance back on the shelf. I've made this butter over 2 years ago and its still good.
              Jan. 9, 2011 1:52 pm
              RogerB: No need for refrigeration?
              Jan. 13, 2011 8:23 am
              Does clarifying make the butter lactose free??
              Jan. 13, 2011 1:58 pm
              Anne, I believe that would be a yes. The milk solids are removed leaving you with pure fat.
              Mar. 24, 2011 5:51 am
              Clarified butter is also great for cooking beef, it makes the beef very tender. I learned that from Marco Pierre White's book " White Heat ".
              Apr. 2, 2011 5:29 pm
              what about the trans fat issues?
              May 4, 2011 1:35 pm
              I wouldn't worry too much about trans fats in butter. They are natural trans fats and it looks like they aren't as unhealthy as artificial trans fats.
              May 25, 2011 4:54 pm
              See Emeril Lagase's recipe to answer some of your questions
              jacqueline ezell 
              Oct. 2, 2011 11:41 am
              can you use it for dipping crab meat and shrimp
              Oct. 24, 2011 4:01 pm
              I will take a Quart ball jar and melt the butter in the oven. Once it's melted, I take the top off, place two straws in the jar, and place it in the refrigerator. After it turns solid, I take one straw out, and pour the milk/water off. The solid stays, and all I have left is the clarified butter.
              Dec. 30, 2011 7:44 pm
              Dave...very interesting, but why the 2 straws?
              Jan. 1, 2012 6:06 pm
              I would think that one straw is for pouring and the other is for air to get back into the jar???... not sure tho
              Jan. 19, 2012 8:36 pm
              The easiest way to separate a quantity of clarified butter is to do this. Pour it in a clean can. Stick the can in the fridge overnight. Take the can out of the fridge, Take a can opener, remove the bottom of the can. The liquid just drains right out! Restaurants have been doing this forever. Presto! It's magic!
              Feb. 5, 2012 3:43 pm
              Jul. 7, 2012 9:37 am
              I cook with a top grade olive oil from Italy. I feel that olive oil is healthier for you than butter.
              Nov. 2, 2012 8:52 pm
              I Skim the froth off, cover the saucepan with foil and refridgerate. The next day poke hole in the solid fat with a knife or the end of a wooden spoon and pour off the water.
              Dec. 25, 2012 10:11 am
              Juan posted on Jan.31, 2010 that clear butter is sold in stores under the name, "ghee". That is incorrect, because ghee is a form of clarifyed butter with a slight change in the process. Its also what gives Ghee its distinctive smell and taste
              Jan. 22, 2013 6:53 pm
              I am confused as to why clarified butter and ghee are being treated interchangeably as I thought the two processes were actually a bit different. My understanding is clarifying is the above process, and the process of creating ghee involves cooking much longer under medium/low heat until the solids are actually 'toasted', and the water evaporates. Then it is filtered, but ends up being of a darker color with a more pronounced nutty flavour. Is this correct?
              Jan. 26, 2013 10:47 am
              The simple way to clarify butter is to melt it in a saucepan and pour it in a gallon size zip lock bag. Pierce a corner of the bag about 2 inches from top and side to allow string or wire to go through.I use a bent piece of stiff wire. Hang the bag over a bowl on counter by tying it to a handle on upper cupboard door. The bag will hang at an angle forming a funnel like shape. The butter will separate into three layers.After ten minutes snip a small piece off the bottom of bag and let the milk solids flow into bowl. Once the clarified portion starts to flow out capture it in another container until the top milky layer starts running out.
              Feb. 15, 2013 12:44 am
              This can also be done in a microwave with the same results. I use this often tho mostly for lobster, crab, shrimp. I also brush it on steaks before and after grilling... It is truly delicious!
              Apr. 7, 2013 8:29 am
              Cookee, I just tried your trick with the freezer bag and it worked beautifully! If others try this, just have your three containers at the ready as the liquids flow pretty quickly, depending, of course, on the size of the hole one snips. I subsequently strained the clarified butter through cheesecloth into a two-cup mason jar that I keep in the freezer. Thanks a million!
              Nov. 22, 2013 3:52 pm
              I used salted butter because that's what I had. The salt remained in the water soluble residue! The clarified butter is great!
              ruby tuesday 
              Jan. 21, 2014 12:34 pm
              After reading and following many recipes for clarified butter, it seemed to me there must be a better way. I thought about this for a while and decided to melt the butter, allow it to cool a little, then pour it into a round container of some sort (a drinking glass, a storage container). Then set it in the refrigerator. Once it is chilled, run warm water on the sides of the container. You may have to loosen the top edge. Clarified butter doesn't melt as rapidly as regular butter, because it is solid fat, so you will not get a runny mess from loosening it with warm water. Once it is unmolded, the water on the bottom will run off and you can scrape the chilled milk solids off the top and have a beautiful portion of truly pure, clarified butter. Try it! You will love the results! Ruby Tuesday
              Apr. 26, 2014 11:48 am
              With the moisture/water issue for clarifying butter, I've read a number of processes that simply say to boil the skimmed butter on a low simmer until the sizzling/popping/boiling sound fades away. The bubbling and popping is the sound of the water being boiled out of the fats as steam. When the water is gone, the oils are left behind and you can hear nary a thing from the pot other than perhaps a very faint sizzle... if that. I've done this myself and it works rather well. All that ands up being left to do is to strain out the solids, jar the butter fats left behind, and let it cool in a sealed container. (For straining, I don't have cheesecloth... and paper towels tend to fall apart on me, even when layered. What I do is cut off a piece of very clean t-shirt I don't wear anymore and use that to strain. The tight weave of the cloth gets all but the smallest particles.) ~ CC
              Apr. 26, 2014 11:57 am
              Oh, as a side note: As I am severely lactose intolerant, I am always looking for ways to have all the flavor and none of the issues with the lactose. (I would rather save my lactose pills for when I really need them.) Everything I have read also indicates that clarified butter/ghee has a virtually negligible level of lactose because those particular sugars are part of the solids, not the fats. Therefore this is a wonderful option for those who miss the taste of butter but don't want to take pills or sacrifice their stomach to get it.
              Jun. 23, 2014 10:07 am
              It's the milk that collects when you make butter from cream. That's buttermilk.
              Dec. 30, 2014 2:39 pm
              Can you use ghee for dipping lobster?
              Apr. 25, 2015 5:42 am
              Can you reuse clarified butter and if so how?
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