Question of the Week: What is Clarified Butter?

Some recipes, both sweet and savory, call for clarified butter.  You can find clarified butter on your grocers shelves, and if you do that’s great, because you would only be paying for what you need – not the watery components you will need to throw away if you make your own.  If you can’t find it in your grocery store, you can make it yourself with little time and effort.

What is it?  
Clarified butter is butter that has had the milk solids and water removed, leaving behind only the butterfat.  If you’ve ever had lobster at a nice restaurant, I’m sure it has been served with clarified butter (drawn butter).  
Why do recipes call for Clarified Butter?  
Clarified butter has a higher smoke point, which means it won’t burn as easily at higher temperatures.  It is great to use for some baked products such as crepes and recipes which call for phyllo dough because the water has been removed and it won’t make the end product soggy.  
There are several ways to make clarified butter, most of them require slow boiling and filtering.  If you aren’t that particular, please try my easy way to make it.
Make Clarified Butter:
–  Place the butter in a glass, microwavable measuring cup or vessel.  
–  In a microwave, melt the butter at 50% power, until completely melted.  
–  Remove butter from the microwave and allow it to sit on the counter for 15 minutes.  
(You will notice a separation into 3 layers: a thin layer on top of foamy whiter ‘stuff”, a large middle portion which is the pure butterfat and a bottom layer which is liquid and milky in appearance.)
–  With a spoon, skim off the foam that rises to the top.  
–  Place the remaining melted butter in the refrigerator.  
–  When the butter is completely chilled and “solid”, remove from the refrigerator.  
–  Carefully, use a knife to remove any other white foamy parts on top.  
–  Poke a hole through the butter and then pour off the watery portion which has settled on the bottom.  
What remains is clarified butter.  
How much to melt:
Expect to lose approx. 2 Tabl. of water/milk solids per 8 Tabl. melted.  If your recipe calls for 1 cup, you will need to melt 1-1/4 cups butter to allow for the loss of milk solids and water.

About bakingway

Baker/Pastry Chef for over 25 years.

Posted on May 11, 2011, in Question of the Week. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love it when I learn something really new to me. I never knew what clarified butter was until now, and also how to make it. I am not much of a baker these days but I love the knowledge. Thanks Chris.

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