I’ve been making my own butter for over a year. It’s super hard to do if you live on a farm in 1754. Fortunately if you live in a house with electricity and a food processor in 2014, it couldn’t be easier. Plus you know where the cream came from, there is little chance that someone with dirty hands is going to infect you with salmonella (unless they sneak in and stir it while you’re not looking). I buy my cream from a local dairy so I know it’s not been hanging out in a fridge (except mine) for 16 days after a long trip across country. It was simply delivered by the milk fairy on Wednesday morning and then I made it into butter, like magic!
So what is clarified butter? Well it is butter that has had the milk solids and water removed from the butter, giving it a longer shelf life and allowing it to be used for higher temperature frying or baking without burning. If you let it go a little longer and turn it amber it makes ghee (which is what I was going for) which is used in Indian foods.
I started my clarified butter (or ghee) from butter, but left the butter photos out. Pretty much to make butter you make whipped cream and then keep going until the solids turn solid and the butter separates from the “buttermilk”. I save the buttermilk for bread making. Then you rinse the butter in very cold water, kneading well to get as much of the buttermilk out as possible. If you don’t, it’ll go bad faster. However, clarifying it will keep it from going bad. It will have a shelf life of 3-6 months clarified in the refrigerator or cupboard. With homemade butter I keep out only what we’ll use in a week (which isn’t much) and then keep the rest in the freezer. If I keep it out too long and it starts to go bad I save it for bread making in the freezer, as long as it isn’t rancid. The tartness won’t matter in the bread.
So let’s get to clarifying! Start by taking your butter and putting it into a small saucepan over low heat. I have an induction stovetop so I put it on one and found it might have been even a bit hot so I moved it to the side in later in the process.
Since I was clarifying I didn’t bother to rinse the butter too much. I knew the water would cook off. Melt the butter down.
Bring the butter to a rolling boil over low heat. Notice the solids that have come to the top.
Skim the solids off the top. You will do this 3-5 times to get most of them off.
Here you can see the milk solids are almost all the way taken off. The butter has started to caramelize on the bottom. At this point you can remove it from the heat and strain it into a glass container through several layers of cheesecloth of muslin to catch the rest of the solids.
So what will I do with this? Well it’s great for frying and using in Indian food. I love Indian food, but my husband does not (he has wimpy, Norwegian tastebuds). It can be used for frying at high heat without burning. You can use it like butter in recipes, but it won’t have as much moisture in it (it will harden up to an extent) so you’d need to adjust, and the butter taste is intensified. Don’t toss the skimmings, either. I currently have some bread rising and I’m using it on the first slice along with jam I made this summer.
Speaking of jam…I’ve not been posting, but I have been cooking! A friend gave me a HUGE box of peaches so it’s been peach bounty at my house: