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Clarified butter, also called ghee, is made by purifying (or clarifying) butter to remove the milk solids and water. Typically, this is done by heating the butter to force the separation of the pure butterfat from the other components.
When heated, clarified butter is a golden-yellow liquid, and it will solidify into a pale, granular texture when cooled. Due to the removal of the milk solids, clarified butter has a high smoke point of about 450˚F (compared to regular butter's smoke point of about 350˚F). Clarified butter can also be stored longer than regular butter without rancidity or off flavors.
Clarified butter is typically made in one of two ways. The first method involves melting the butter, skimming the foam off the surface, and collecting the butterfat layer without disturbing the water underneath—this method works best when clarifying large amounts of butter. The second method involves heating the butter until all the water boils away, then straining through a fine mesh to remove the milk solids.
Due to its high smoke point, clarified butter is good for use in high-heat cooking, such as frying or sautéing. It can also be used in baking recipes that require high smoke point fats.