Clarified Butter

December 12, 2015

I have a recipe I’m going to cook tomorrow that calls for clarified butter. This is a kitchen basic that was a little intimidating but I figured I’d have to tackle sooner or later. No more putting it off.

Clarified butter has a higher smoke point than whole butter; I think this is due to the milk solids and other non-fat bits burning. We clarify the butter to separate that beautiful butterfat from the the other bits that make up butter

It turned out to be pretty darn easy; but as they say, the proof of the pudding is in the eating, so I won’t know for sure until tomorrow. The ingredients are as basic as can be: butter – that is all.

Clarified butter ingredients: butter.
Clarified butter ingredients: butter.

I cut two sticks of butter, 1/2 pound, into pats and placed them in a microwave safe cup.

I microwaved the bits 30 seconds at a time at 1/2 power until the butter had melted.

Butter melted and separating
Butter melted and separating

Then we set the cup on the countertop and wait a minute or two. You can see in the picture above the butter is separating in three layers: some foamy stuff on top, the beautiful butterfat we want, and milk solids are sinking to the bottom.

When it looks like the layering is complete, scoop off the foam with a spoon and toss it. Then carefully pour that liquid gold into another container without letting the milk solids get in.

Clarified butter results
Clarified butter results

Now we have some delicious butter that has a higher smoke point so can be used for sweating/sautéing things we’d normally use a higher heat oil for. This isn’t good for super-high sautéing but will be perfect for tomorrow’s dish.

Easy Peazy. If you have a  recipe that calls for clarified butter, use this simple method.

Yeah, I heard you ask: “what are you cooking for dinner tomorrow, Howard?” I was just ignoring you; you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s post to find out. I will tell you I had to buy a loaf of white bread (which we never get) so I’ll be making some French Toast in the morning using the clarified butter and some of the bread.

A note on the photography. I played around with using two flashes again today. I had a flash diffuser on each unit and had them mounted on separate stands with no flash on the camera. I used a Cowboystudio radio strobe trigger PT-04S1 on the main flash and the secondary flash set in “slave”mode. I still got some hot spots; maybe larger light box diffusers would help that. I also set the white balance from 6900 to 5925 using a neutral white balance card.


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