Being from India, I use clarified butter (ghee) in a lot of my cooking and after couple of years of buying expensive bottles from the Asian store, I finally had the good sense to make it at home. When I think about it, I'm actually ashamed that I didn't think of it earlier. I've seen my mom do it at home a hundred times and I've myself have done it with her watching over me.
It's a simple process really. Butter is made of 85% fat and 15%water and the process of clarifying is where you remove the water and any milk solids so that all you are left with is pure fat. This is important in recipes where the proportion of fat has to be precise and where water might ruin the process, like in the emulsion process while making hollandaise sauce. The other thing about clarified butter is that since it is pure fat, you can afford to take it to higher temperatures without browning the butter.
I use salted butter, but I think the norm is unsalted butter, or at least that's what my mom used to make clarified butter. Take a saucepan and drop the butter in. You’ll lose about two tbsp of butter when you are clarifying it, so start off with the initial butter accordingly. Use low-medium heat as you want to heat it up enough to evaporate all the water but not too hot that it burns. You'll notice a bit of frothing and white layer floating on top. These are the milk solids, take a spoon and gently remove the solids. The more you remove, the butter will start looking really bright and clear.
Once you reach this stage, take it off heat. To further filter this, you can either use a muslin cloth or if you don't want to go through all the trouble, simply just it sit in the saucepan for 10-15 minutes. Whatever solids remaining will sink to the bottom and you can just pour the clarified butter into a new jar.
I spread ghee on my chapatis to make them softer, in my jeera rice to add a more enhanced flavour, in my rasam just for the scent, and in really cold, dry days I dab it to cure my chapped lips (if I don't lick it all away!) What will you use it for?
Find the complete recipe here.