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Clarified Butter

Q: What is "clarified butter"?

-- Lily

Clarified butter, also known as drawn butter, is butter from which the water and milk solids have been removed.

Store-bought butter contains somewhere around 16-18% water by weight.  It also contains between 1-2% milk solids other than fat, the proteins (caseins and whey)  and carbohydrates (lactose) found in milk.  The remaining 80-82% is pretty much pure milk fat.  For some cooking applications, it is desirable to remove both the water and solids.

To clarify butter, heat it in a saucepan over medium heat until it melts completely.  From there, you can proceed one of two ways.  The first is to pour the entire contents into a container and refrigerate it until the fat has solidified.  On the surface there will be a slight residue of milk proteins that should be scraped off.  At the bottom of the container will be the water, in which are dissolved the remaining milk solids.  Lift the fat off of the liquid and pat it dry using paper towels.  Discard the water.  This method is easiest, but may leave a small amount of water and solids still in the butter.

If you don't have the time for the above method, or if you want to be sure that all of the water is removed, melt the butter as above.  Continue to cook it until all of the water has cooked off and the butter quits foaming, being careful not to overheat it, as that can affect the flavor.

Once the water is completely cooked off, you will be left with clarified butter with a foam of milk solids on the top and more solids left in the bottom of the pan.  Skim off all of the foam and then carefully pour the clarified butter off of the remaining solids.

Because only 80% of butter is actually milk fat, you need to use about 1 ¼ cups of regular butter to get 1 cup of clarified butter.

Butter clarified using the second method above, but where the milk solids have been allowed to brown before the butter is pour off, approximates East Indian ghee.



I just wanted to say that this is a great post on making things with Ghee (Clarified Butter)- I do alot with Nourishing Traditions and recently fried liver with Ghee and then put it through my food processor with a bit of orange juice and whey, maybe a 1/2-1 tablespoon each to a 1.5 pound of beet liver. It came out really great! - Liver that tastes good...Wow. So thanks so much for this information.

Maria Atwood

I'm treating my trips to your site as a sort of day school :) I think I need to start taking notes...

When/why would one want to use "drawn butter"? What recipes call for it and what are its noticeable advantages ?

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