Clarified Butter Sous Vide

Clarified butter is a common kitchen term for butterfat – which is what’s left after you remove the water and milk-solids from butter.

Traditionally it’s made by heating butter to around 260°F and holding it there (stirring occasionally) until the last of the water is driven out. This also browns the milk solids a bit – adding what is often considered a desirable “nutty” flavor to the butter.

Then you filter the result through cheesecloth to remove all of the milk solids, leaving just butterfat – a great substitute for other oils or fats when cooking. This traditional method works great but requires relatively consistent attention, and is not forgiving of errors.

This method is different, taking advantage of the sous vide method to separate the butterfat from the water and milk solids – which sink to the bottom of the sous vide container. After melting you pour off the butterfat – which you then simmer on a stove at a medium temperature until it stops bubbling. This indicates all the water has been driven out.

This produces a clean tasting butterfat which has the same shelf life and great frying/cooking properties, but without the nutty flavor notes which may or may not enhance your planned use. And it does not require any fussy filtering.

The remaining water and milk solids can be either discarded, or simmered in a small pot, stirring every 5 minutes or so until the milk solids are thick and creamy, browning a bit. There are many uses for it, but there isn’t much actually there so it may not be worth the effort.

Do be aware that if you use salted butter, every bit of that salt is going to wind up in the milk-solids and water slurry. If you reduce it the result is ridiculously salty. It actually seems to taste saltier than plain salt, which is of course impossible. But it still does.

Salt does not bind with liquid fat (even hot liquid fat), so if you are not saving the milk solids it makes no difference whether you use salted or unsalted butter.

No matter how you make it, clarified butter has a very long shelf life, a creamy spreadable consistency at room temperature, and a very high smoke point (around 450°F). Whole butter has a smoke point of 350°F – at which point the milk solids start to burn, producing a strong unpleasant taste.

As for what kind of butter, my favorite comes from grassfed cows. Yes, it is different, but it’s pricy and sometimes hard to find. Kerrygold is also an excellent choice, though a bit spendy. Honestly even the cheapest whole butter will work fine.

If you are looking for a more traditional clarified butter, check out Alton Brown’s recipe at foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/clarified-butter-recipe-2111845.

Print Recipe
Clarified Butter Sous Vide Yum
A jar of this on your kitchen counter in a dark-tinted mason jar is a great asset. Make a big enough batch that you can have one jar on the counter, one "on deck" in the fridge, and one in the freezer. When our final jar gets promoted to counter duty, it's time to whip up another batch.
Course Prep
Servings
Ingredients
  • Any whole butter — Salted or unsalted. Salted has a longer shelf life.
  • mason jars & lids — 8 or 16 oz wide mouth mason jars work well. Best is dark amber tinted to protect from light. Ball/Kerr now make "black" lids that provide a more positive seal than the old white ones.
Course Prep
Servings
Ingredients
  • Any whole butter — Salted or unsalted. Salted has a longer shelf life.
  • mason jars & lids — 8 or 16 oz wide mouth mason jars work well. Best is dark amber tinted to protect from light. Ball/Kerr now make "black" lids that provide a more positive seal than the old white ones.
Instructions
  1. Preheat the sous-vide vessel to 185°F (85°C)
  2. Seal butter in a vacuum pouch or well sealed ziplock bag with air expelled.
  3. Submerge the pouch in the water, weighted to keep submerged, heat for 30 minutes after the temp returns to 185°F/85°C
  4. Carefully remove the HOT pouch. Snip a top corner or open the ziplock and slowly pour the butter into a large enough bowl - stopping just before you get to the milk solids. You don't want any of them in there.
  5. Reserve the milk solids for various uses like dressing vegetables, mixed into mashed potatoes or rice, or kneading into bread dough. I hear they are awesome on popcorn.
  6. Refrigerate butterfat overnight, covered.
  7. Pop the butterfat out of the bowl, discarding any liquid, and dabbing the bottom dry with a paper towel.
  8. Heat the butterfat in a pan to 225°F to drive out any residual water. There will some visible bubbling when it first comes up to temp. After a while the bubbles will stop, indicating the water is all gone and you're done.
  9. After it cools a bit, but while still over 150°F, pour into sterile mason jars.
  10. Seal with either a leak-proof lid or a canning lid with a ring.
  11. For freezing, alternatively you may prefer to pour it into something that holds about the amount you are looking to keep on your countertop. Chill, pop out, vacuum seal and freeze.
  12. Shelf life is 6 months in the dark (cupboard, pantry, or even on your kitchen counter if you use a darkened jar). A year or more in the fridge, but it doesn't scoop as well. Years in the freezer — preferably vacuum sealed.
Share this Recipe
 
Powered by WP Ultimate Recipe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.