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How to Clarify Butter, in Pictures

Aug 16 2012 - 4:20am

When cooking with butter straight from the fridge, it has a higher chance of burning, because the butter contains milk solids that lower its smoke point. One simple way to prevent a burnt, oily mess? Remove the milk solids and create clarified butter; in just 10 to 20 minutes, you'll be able to add a dab of the warm-flavored cooking oil to everything from pancakes and grilled cheese to eggs and sautéed meat. Take a look at our method of clarifying butter, in pictures.

Cube the Butter

Take a stick of high quality, unsalted butter, and roughly cube it.

Place Butter in a Saucepan

Place the cubes of butter in a small saucepan.

Get Out a Small Bowl and Spoon

You'll need a small spoon and bowl to scrape off and store the milk solids once the butter begins to bubble.

Cook Butter on Low Heat

Melt and cook the butter over low heat.

Cook Butter Until White Foam Rises

The butter will begin to bubble, and white foam (the milk solids) will rise to the top.

Scrape Off the White Foam

Using the wooden spoon, skim the surface of the butter, removing the white foam only.

Store White Foam in Separate Bowl

Store the white foam deposits in a small bowl.

Scrape Foam Until None Remains

Continue cooking the butter and scraping off the foam until no white foam remains, then remove the butter from the stove.

Strain the Clarified Butter

Strain the clarified butter through a fine mesh sieve or a piece of cheesecloth to get rid of any remaining milk solid bits. Store the clarified butter in an airtight container, and refrigerate. The clarified butter will keep in the fridge for three to six months.

Remember: Just because it's called clarified butter doesn't mean it will always look clear. The clarified butter will appear clear and liquid-y when it is hot and will transform to a cloudy, dense paste when it is at room temperature or refrigerated.

Use the Milk Solids and the Clarified Butter

Rather than tossing out the milk solids, use them as a finishing oil. Melt the milk solids over steamed or grilled vegetables, or mix the solids into mashed potatoes or rice. Otherwise, try kneading them into bread dough for a buttery flavor.

As for the clarified butter, add a dab to a sauté pan when cooking crêpes [1], pancakes [2], eggs [3], and seared meats. Clarified butter has a high smoke point, so it will help the foods develop a crisp exterior without risk of burning the oil.

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