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Clarified butter made at home

Clarified butter is anhydrous milkfat rendered from butter to separate the milk solids and water from the butterfat.[1] Typically, it is produced by melting butter and allowing the different 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 de-emulsification followed by centrifugation.[2][3]

In northern India, the milk solids are a delicacy eaten with various unleavened breads. In Hindi, the milk solids are called mehran.



Clarified butter has a higher smoke point than regular butter and is, therefore, preferred in some cooking applications, such as sautéing. Clarified butter also has a much longer shelf life than fresh butter.

Regional variations

In the Middle East ('samna') and South Asia ('ghee'), the butter is cooked long enough to evaporate the water portion and caramelize the milk solids (which are then filtered out), resulting in a nutty flavor.[4][5][6] In French cuisine, this is called beurre noisette, loosely translated as "nutty butter," and known as brown butter in English.[7]

Names and uses in different countries

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 Brazil, it is known as "manteiga de garrafa" (bottle butter) and is featured mostly in cuisine from the Northeast.

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

In Arab countries, it is known as "samnah." It replaces oil in frying and sautéing because of its perceived superior flavor.

In Ethiopian and Eritrean cuisine (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 India, it is known as "ghee" and is used in place of other oils. It is used in religious ceremonies to light lamps and pyres. Offerings made for the gods are made using ghee and sweets made of ghee are considered delicacies. According to Ayurveda ghee purifies food, especially rice.

In Uganda, amongst 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 into smoked meat.


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^ Walstra, P. Wouters, J. Geurts, T. (2006). Dairy Science and Technology, CRC Press - Taylor and Francis Group
  4. ^ Iyer, Raghavan (2008). 660 Curries, p. 21. New York: Workman Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7611-3787-0.
  5. ^ Jaffrey, Madhur (1982). Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Cooking, p. 211. London: BBC Books. ISBN 0-8120-6548-4.
  6. ^ Sahni, Julie (1998). Julie Sahni’s Introduction to Indian Cooking, p. 217 under “usli ghee.” Berkeley: Ten Speed Press. ISBN 0-89815-976-8.
  7. ^ Julia Child (1961), Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Alfred A. Knopf


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