Learn how to make clarified butter, an easy process that removes the water and milk solids from whole butter. Clarified butter has a more concentrated, richer flavor, lasts longer in the refrigerator, and has a higher smoke point for cooking.
In a small saucepan over low heat, warm butter without boiling or agitation of any kind.
As the butter melts, the solids rise to the top and water sinks to the bottom. Sometimes the solids appear to bubble up from the bottom.
When the butter is melted, skim the milk solids from the top using a ladle or slotted spoon (see notes for ideas of what to do with the solids).
When the skim solids have been removed, transfer the butterfat to a clean saucepan or bowl using a ladle. Leave the water in the bottom of the original saucepan.
Better butter: The best butter for clarifying is European-style, imported butter. These butters usually contain more milk fat than American butter (82% to 86% milk fat in European vs. 80% to 82% in American). After clarifying some store-brand or other inexpensive butters, I was left with what looked like a pan of yellow water. Not appetizing! If you are clarifying butter to make a delicious Hollandaise Sauce, choose a delicious butter (since Hollandaise Sauce is mostly butter). But If you're clarifying butter to make a stir-fry, the quality won't be quite as important.
Butter solids: You can lightly brown the butter solids (the layer you scooped off the top) in a small amount of clarified butter to make "browned butter." Then, add to cookies, vegetables, soups, mashed potatoes for extra butter flavor, or use as a condiment on bread.
Yield: 1 pound of butter yields about 12 ounces of clarified butter.
Storage: Store clarified butter in the refrigerator for up to 2 months.
Freezer: Pack in a freezer-safe container, label, date, and freeze clarified butter for up to 6 months.