When I chose to live the Paleo life, I was suddenly pushed to cook with ingredients that I had never heard of before. Needless to say, I relied on Google (and Ultimate Paleo Guide, of course) A LOT. One of these mysterious ingredients was clarified butter and ghee.
What is it?
Clarified butter is butter with the milk solids and water removed. Ghee is incredibly similar to clarified butter; the only difference being that ghee is melted down a bit more than clarified butter giving it a nuttier flavor and aroma.
Although there are many Paleo proponents who advocate for the inclusion of grass-fed butter in the Paleo diet (more about that here), these two fats are great choices for people who want to avoid dairy completely.
By removing the milk solids from the butter, two cool things (for your body and your wallet) happen.
First, the smoke point of the butter becomes much higher. Normally, butter should only be used for cooking foods at no higher than 300℉, but clarified butter/ghee has a smoke point of 485℉. This makes it much safer for sauteing and pan-frying.
What’s the big deal about smoke points any way?
This means that you can cook with it at hotter temperatures without it breaking down and producing free radicals. To put it simply, free radicals can damage our DNA and break down tissue in the body. Cellular reactions in the body produce free radicals naturally; some are actually needed for the health of our immune system. But when we start consuming foods that are already oxidized (like using butter at temperatures higher than 300℉), our body has more free radicals to fight. This is when damage can happen.
Removing the milk solids from the butter also extends its shelf life. You can keep clarified butter fresh for up to a month in the fridge – longer than that if you freeze it. Ghee does not need to be refrigerated. Store it in an airtight container in your cabinet for up to a month.
How to Make Clarified Butter
Although you can buy clarified butter and ghee at the grocery store, it’s incredibly simple to make at home. Making it on your own is not only cheaper, but it allows you to be sure you’re using high quality, unsalted grass-fed butter!
To make clarified butter, cut a pound of butter into cubes and heat it over low heat in a heavy-bottomed sauce pan until it’s melted. Simmer the butter until a layer of foam appears on top. The butter may splatter, so be careful during this process.
Once the splattering stops and no more foam rises to the top, take the butter off heat. Skim the butter with a spoon to remove the foam.
Line a mesh strainer with a few layers of cheesecloth and place this over a container. The butter will still be hot, so be sure to pick a container that will hold up to the heat. Pour the butter through the strainer to remove any solids that you may have missed with the spoon.
That’s it. Easy, right?
What’s your favorite way to use clarified butter or ghee? Check out these recipes for ideas on how to incorporate this liquid gold in your next meal!
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