Liquid Gold, a.k.a. Clarified Butter, a.k.a. Ghee
If you are not on a butter-free diet, butter can actually be used for more than flavor. For some, it may even be beneficial! Of course, all things in moderation. For example, water is clearly beneficial, but not if you drink so much that you drown!
For some, regular use of oils, even beneficial oils, can result in an Omega imbalance, which may adversely affect health. Too much Omega 6, not enough Omega 3. Individuals with colitis are included in this category. (Of course, consult with your physician.) Ghee contains some Omega 6 and 3; butter from grass-fed cows offers a much better ratio. But it offers less Omega 6 than many plant-based oils.
For some people, clarified butter can be used to replace oil. Also, clarified butter brings additional benefits!
Healing Properties of Clarified Butter
Clarified butter contains butyric acid, which is believed to have anti-cancer and anti-viral properties. It is also considered helpful in the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
In TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine), it is used to promote healing of injuries, to improve immunity, to improve nutritive value of foods, to improve digestion, and to reduce gastro-intestinal inflammation, making it potentially beneficial to individuals suffering from Ulcerative Colitis.
This is also a great ingredient for a Paleo or Specific Carbohydrate Diet.
Cooking Benefits of Clarified Butter
With milk solids (and proteins) removed, clarified butter can withstand high temperature. You can sauté and stir-fry with it!
Clarified butter is used in many international cuisines to produce beautiful, flavorful sauces. You can use clarified butter, or ghee, generally wherever you would use oil or butter. And because the solids are removed, it has a very long shelf life!
Clarified Butter Method
The following method prevents browning. Alternatively, you may choose to heat butter to boiling, reduce heat, allow water to evaporate, cook for a few minutes until solids collect at the bottom of the pan. Strain through cheesecloth. Discard any brown bits. This method is a little closer to an Indian Ghee, and is lovely. Ghee is often infused with spices.
Pictured on this page is a cooking-school method. Either way, the idea is just to get the milk solids out of the butter.
Start with unsalted butter, any amount you would like… as long as it fits easily into the pan, of course. Melt butter in a sauce pan.
Milk solids will rise to the top (and fall to the bottom) as the butter melts.
Carefully skim the milk solids from the top and remove.
You can collect the milk solids into a separate bowl. The amount of milk solids you skim should be about 25% of the total volume. (So if you need 3/4 c clarified butter, start with 1 c of butter.)
The skimmed solids can be used in dishes later. (I throw nothing away.)
As solids rises to the surface, continue to skim…
… until butter is very clear.
When butter is very clear, pour through a fine mesh strainer, or cheesecloth to remove remaining little bits of milk solids.
Voila! Clarified butter!
For a beurre-noisette (brown butter or hazelnut butter)…
If you would like a nutty-flavored butter, continue to cook until it browns. Be patient and watch butter carefully, stirring, so that you do not burn it.
You can add a bit of acidity – vinegar or lemon – to the browned clarified butter, if desired.
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