Oh butter – pure, golden, full of flavor… the word itself is used to describe such desirable qualities as tender, melting, sweet, and unctuous. Buttery. Whether you eat it or not (due to dietary reasons or otherwise), it’s hard to deny its glory. We even strive to mimic its unique flavor with artificial substitutes (though I have to say, I can and do believe it is not butter). And as if it weren’t good enough on its own, with just a few simple steps butter can be transformed into something even more amazing. If you’ve never had the pleasure of tasting the rich, aromatic flavor of clarified butter, brown butter, or ghee, you are truly in for a treat!
(And if you have, I probably don’t have to convince you how good it is!)
It’s FAK Friday (Feeding my Appetite for Knowledge), and this week I’m making clarified butter, and talking about the difference between clarified butter, browned butter, and ghee. I’ve got step-by-step photos, and instructions on how to make all three. As always, I’ve tried to be as accurate as possible, but if you notice any errors feel free to leave me a comment at the bottom of the page!
As the foam gathers, use a spoon to skim the surface. This step is not necessary for making browned butter, but can help you to see the color in the bottom of the pan.
These solids can be set aside and used later (I like to stir them into sauces, or warm rice), or discarded if you don’t have a use for them. Don’t worry about getting every last bit of foam off the top, as the rest should get caught when you strain the liquid. Removing the foam will help you see to the bottom of the pan, which is where you will find tiny specks of milk solids gathering.
To make clarified butter, you will turn off the heat shortly after you see the solids separate from the fat and sink to the bottom of the pan. For ghee, let the mixture cook a little longer, until the bubbling dies down and the solids have turned a golden-brown color (as seen in the picture on the right). To make browned butter, simply cook until the solids turn a deeper brown and the liquid begins to darken in color slightly. Be sure to do this over low heat, and keep an eye on it — you don’t want it to burn! If you are making a smaller amount of browned butter, the color may darken very quickly. Keep swirling the pan every few second to keep it cooking evenly, and to check the progress and make sure the solids don’t get scorched.
If you’re making browned butter for a recipe, straining and storing is not necessary. Simply remove the butter from the heat, and proceed according to recipe instructions.