Today, I am making 2 butter products that I use every day: homemade spreadable butter (with a bonus of real buttermilk), and ghee, a cooking butter that’s been used for centuries in India.
First, the ghee. Ghee is clarified butter. It’s been used for centuries in India as their primary cooking fat. It has the same heart-healthy benefits of extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil, but is much cheaper than either of those products.
Because the milk solids and water are removed during the making of ghee, the smoke point is very high, and it is room temperature stable.
A high smoke point means it won’t smoke or burn like regular butter or extra virgin olive oil, so you can cook with it over very high heat without worry.
Since it’s room temperature stable, I keep mine in a little covered crock by my stove, and just scoop some into my pan when I’m ready to cook. It doesn’t sputter or sizzle like regular butter, it melts into a pure fat, like coconut oil does.
To make ghee, you just need 1 pound of unsalted butter. I get mine at Costco. It comes in a 4 pound pack, and so I’ll make one pack into ghee and freeze the rest until I need it.
Heat the oven to 250 degrees, and place the butter in a large dutch oven. The butter will spatter as the water cooks out, so you want a big pot, so it doesn’t spatter all over your oven!
Place in the oven, uncovered, so the water can evaporate as it cooks, and bake until you can smell the brown butter. The solids should be golden brown and sunk to the bottom of the pan, and there should be a layer of foam on top. It takes 1 1/2 to 3 hours, depending on your oven and your pan size. A larger pot will cause it to cook faster, since the butter will have more surface area for the water to evaporate.
Set a mesh strainer lined with cheesecloth, muslin cloth, or a double layer of plain white paper towels over a large spouted glass measuring cup.
Pour the ghee into 1 cup crocks, and let cool until it solidifies. In the winter, when your house is cooler, it will set up more firmly than in the summer, when the house is warmer. It takes a very long time for it to fully cool and set. I usually put one crock by the stove for immediate use, and the other crock in the fridge to pull out when the first crock is gone. Each crock lasts me about a month.
Don’t pour the hot ghee into plastic storage containers. It will melt them! If you want to store your ghee in plastic, let it cool first in the glass measuring cup, and then place it in the plastic container.
Now, onto homemade spreadable butter. Spreadable butter is delicious, but it is quite expensive. I like to make my own… totally from scratch! Start with 1 pint (16 ounces) of heavy whipping cream, and a quart jar.
The pint of cream costs under $3, and with it, we will get the equivalent of a 12 ounce tub of spreadable butter (about $4) and a pint of real buttermilk, which you can’t even buy at the store at all… what they sell at the store is “cultured buttermilk,” which is just normal milk with cultures added to sour it. Real buttermilk, the byproduct of churning butter from cream, is not available to buy in supermarkets. It will make your next batch of pancakes ridiculously good!
Pour the cream into the jar, and let it sit to come to room temperature, 1 to 2 hours.
Now, shake it up!
Be warned… this will be a 15 to 20 minute process! If you have kids, they really love to take turns shaking the jar. 2 year olds are especially effective.
Soon, it will thicken considerably and stop sloshing.
A few minutes later, it will begin to curdle.
And finally, it will start sloshing again, as the butter collects into a solid mass, with buttermilk separated and sloshing in the jar.
Set up a mesh strainer over a bowl, lined with 2 white paper towels.
Pour the butter and buttermilk in.
Gently gather the paper towels around the butter and squeeze to get out as much buttermilk as possible.
Now you have butter and real buttermilk!
Place the buttermilk in a pint jar and refrigerate. It is spectacular in pancakes or biscuits.
To make butter spreadable from the refrigerator, you must add canola oil. (Ingredients on a commercial spreadable butter tub: butter, canola oil, salt)
Add 1/3 cup canola oil, and 1/8 teaspoon salt.
You will have about 2 cups of spreadable butter, so I divide it between two 1 cup crocks.
Taste, and add more salt as desired. Tap each one firmly on the counter to dislodge any bubbles, then cover and refrigerate your bounty!