Clarified Butter

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About

Clarified butter is butter whose water and milk solids have been removed, leaving essentially pure milk fat that looks beautifully clear when melted and that is better suited for frying (the milk solids scorch at relatively low frying temperatures). When butter is gently heated to the boiling point of water, the water bubbles to the top, where the whey proteins form a froth. Eventually all the water evaporates, the bubbling stops, and the froth dehydrates. This leaves a skin of dry whey protein on top, and dry casein particles at the bottom. Lift off the whey skin, pour the liquid fat off of the casein residue, and the purification is complete.