Clarified butter

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Freshly made clarified butter, still liquid
Clarified butter at room temperature

Clarified butter is milk fat rendered from butter to separate the milk solids and water from the butterfat.[1] Typically, it is produced by melting butter and allowing the components to separate by density. The water evaporates, some solids float to the surface and are skimmed off, and the remainder of the milk solids sink to the bottom and are left behind when the butter fat (which would then be on top) is poured off.

Commercial methods of production also include direct evaporation, but may also be accomplished by decantation and centrifugation followed by vacuum drying; or direct from cream by breaking the emulsion followed by centrifugation.[2][3]


Clarified butter has a higher smoke point (485 °F or 252 °C) than regular butter (325-375 °F or 163-190 °C),[4] and is therefore preferred in some cooking applications, such as sautéing. Clarified butter also has a much longer shelf life than fresh butter. It has negligible amounts of lactose and casein and is, therefore, acceptable to most who have a lactose intolerance or milk allergy.

Regional variations[edit]

In the Indian Subcontinent, South Asia (ghee), the butter may be cooked long enough to evaporate the water portion and caramelize the milk solids (which are then filtered out), resulting in a nutty flavor.[5][6][7][8]

Names and uses in various countries[edit]

Russian clarified butter

In Brazil, this is known as manteiga clarificada and it is commonly mistaken for manteiga de garrafa (bottle butter), which is featured mostly in cuisine from the northeast.

In England, clarified butter is used in the process of potting, whereby foods such as shrimp and hare are preserved in pots of butter.

In the Indian Subcontinent, clarified butter, commonly known as ghee, is a common cooking oil. Indians use it mainly for cooking, especially, chicken Karahi and lentils. It is also burned as a fuel in religious lamps. In northern India, the milk solids are a delicacy eaten with various unleavened breads. The milk solids are called mehran or ghee (घी) in Hindi, ney (நெய்) in Tamil, neyyi (నెయ్యి) in Telugu, neyy (നെയ്യ്) in Malayalam, तुप (tūp) in Marathi, thuppa/tuppa (ತುಪ್ಪ) in Kannada. In Kannada Brahmin tradition, food is not eaten till the thuppa/tuppa is served on the rice, in fact it is the last item served before people start consuming food. Serving thuppa/tuppa also indicates that food can be consumed now! In Tamil househoulds, the separated milk solids are sauteed with jaggery (or brown sugar) and wheat flour to make a sweet delicacy. Ghee (Sanskrit: ghŗtam (घृतम्)) is also a major ingredient in Ayurveda, used as a base for several herbal potions or powders, for easier absorption.

In India, apart from culinary uses of the clarified butter, in a traditional ritual call Homa/Havana/Havan which is performed as part of various religious events, ghŗtam (घृतम्)) is offered to Agni, the fire god of the Indian Pantheon. It is on of the five ingredients of Panchamritha, a constriction for pancha - five and amritha - immortal/necter.

In Nepal, it is known as "घीउ". In Nepal Bhasa it is known as "घ्य".

In the United States, clarified butter is typically served warm with unbreaded, cooked seafood as drawn butter.

In Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisines (particularly in the highlands), clarified butter is infused with ginger, garlic, and several spices, and is known as niter kibbeh in Amharic and tesmi in Tigrinya. In traditional African cultures, clarified butter is used in an ointment worn in the hair or on the skin. For example, the women of the Hamer people wear a mixture of clarified butter and red ochre in their hair.

In German, clarified butter is known as Butterschmalz (butter lard), sometimes rendered into English as "butter schmalz".

In Turkey, it is known as "sade yağ".

In Iran, it is known as "yellow oil" or "sweet oil", and is used in place of other oils.

In Middle Eastern countries, it is known as samnah. It replaces oil in frying and sautéing because of its perceived superior flavor. In some Arab countries, such as Egypt, the separated milk solids that remain in the bottom is called morta (Egyptian Arabic: مورتة  pronounced [ˈmoɾtæ]) and can be eaten as a spread on bread.

Rural families in the Maghreb, particularly those of Amazigh descent (among whom ghee is referred to as smen or d'haan) sometimes bury a sealed vessel of it on the day of a daughter's birth, aging it until it is unearthed and used to season the food served at her wedding.

In Uganda, among the Ankole cultures, clarified butter is made into a dish called eshabwe, a white, frothy cream that is eaten with solid foods and is sometimes added to smoked meat.

In Mongolia, it is known as "shar tos".

In Russia, it is called топлёное масло (toplenoe maslo, literally "melted butter").

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Clarified butter - Glossary - How to cook". BBC Good Food. Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  2. ^ "Butteroil | Butter Oil | Composition | Preparation | Production | Uses". Retrieved 2010-06-07. 
  3. ^ Walstra, P. Wouters, J. Geurts, T. (2006). Dairy Science and Technology, CRC Press - Taylor and Francis Group
  4. ^ Amy Brown, Understanding Food: Principles and Preparation, 5th ed., 2014, ISBN 1133607152, p. 468
  5. ^ Iyer, Raghavan (2008). 660 Curries, p. 21. New York: Workman Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7611-3787-0.
  6. ^ Jaffrey, Madhur (1982). Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking, p. 211. London: BBC Books. ISBN 0-8120-6548-4.
  7. ^ Sahni, Julie (1998). Julie Sahni’s Introduction to Indian Cooking, p. 217 under “usli ghee.” Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-89815-976-8.
  8. ^ Landis, Denise (2003). All About Ghee New York Times - Food Chain