Clarified Butter Sous Vide

Butter contains three things (in this order): butterfat, water, and milk solids. Clarified butter is a common kitchen term for butterfat.

Traditionally it is made by heating butter to a temp like 260°F or a bit higher until the last of the water is driven out. This also browns the milk solids to a degree that depends on the temp and time of your process. That browning adds what is generally considered a desirable “nutty” flavor to the butter. The final step is to filter the result through cheesecloth to remove all of the milk solids, leaving just butterfat, which can be a great substitute for other oils or fats when cooking.

This recipe is quite different, taking advantage of the sous vide method to separate the butterfat out at a relatively low temperature, pouring off the butterfat/water mix which you then heat at a medium temperature until all remaining water is driven out. This produces a clean tasting butterfat which has the same shelf life and great frying/cooking properties, but without flavor notes that may or may not enhance your planned use. And it does not require any fussy filtering.

No matter how you make it, clarified butter has a very long shelf life, a creamy spreadable consistency at room temperature, and the very high smoke point of 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.

Salted or unsalted butter each work, but salted will have the longest shelf life. My favorite is salted butter from grassfed cattle (yes, it is different), but it’s very pricy and hard to find. My go-to butter is Kerrygold, more spendy than most butter but widely available. But even the cheapest whole butter will work fine.

For a more traditional clarified butter, which does not use the Sous Vide method, check out Alton Brown’s recipe at foodnetwork.com/recipes/alton-brown/clarified-butter-recipe-2111845.

Much hotter or longer and you get into the territory of “ghee”, which is even darker. Then there is “brown butter”, which is very dark. It is a specialty item rarely called for in a recipe. It is cooked high and long enough to come right up to, but just shy of, burned. This is more for the professionals. If I ever need it, I’ll try to buy it online.
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.
Servings
Ingredients
  • butter — Decide whether you want salted or unsalted. I favor salted for the longer shelf life.
  • mason jars & lids — 8 or 16 ounce 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.
Servings
Ingredients
  • butter — Decide whether you want salted or unsalted. I favor salted for the longer shelf life.
  • mason jars & lids — 8 or 16 ounce 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 your water bath to 185°F/85°C
  2. Seal butter in a vacuum pouch or well sealed ziplock bag with the 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 melted over vegetables, mixed into mashed potatoes or rice, or kneading into bread dough. I hear they are awesome on popcorn.
  6. Refrigerate butter overnight, covered.
  7. Pop the butter out of the bowl, discarding any liquid, and dabbing the bottom dry with a paper towel.
  8. Heat the butter 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. 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.