Clarified butter

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Warm, therefore liquid clarified butter

room temperature clarified butter

Clarifiedbutter (also Schmalzbutter, clarified, boiled or purified butter, or in Switzerland, Bratbutter) is so-called clarified butter obtained from butter by removing water, milk protein and lactose, i.e. Milk fat. It has similar properties to lard, but is not produced from slaughter fat, but from rendered butter(milkfat[1]) from cow’s milk. Clarified butter is used for baking, frying and cooking. It is particularly suitable for deep-frying and frying, but can also be used as a fat ingredient in other cooking processes. It can be used as a substitute for butter in baking.

Properties and composition

Due to its low water content, clarified butter has a much longer shelf life than butter – unrefrigerated it lasts about 9 months, at refrigerator temperatures up to 15 months. It is therefore also produced to preserve large quantities of fresh butter. Clarified butter can also be heated more than most other fats: the smoke point is around 205 °C.

Based on 100 grams, it contains 99.5 grams of fat[2]of which 29 percent are monounsaturated and 4.6 percent polyunsaturated fatty acids. The rest is made up of cholesterol (278 mg), water (100 mg), fat-soluble vitamins (A: 0.93 mg, D: 1.6 µg and E: 2.4 mg) and carotene (0.53 mg).

Clarified butter is crystallized milk fat and therefore solid at room temperature, whereas butter is a “solid emulsion” of water in liquid (or semi-crystalline) milk fat.[3]


clarified butter produced in Buryatia, Siberia

To prepare it at home, butter is carefully heated and kept liquid for about 30 minutes without browning. This causes the coagulated egg white to settle in the foam and at the bottom, and the water to evaporate. The butter is clarified by skimming off the foam, then pouring it off and/or filtering it. About 700 g of clarified butter can be obtained from 1 kg of butter.

For industrial production, butter is melted at 40 to 60 °C and the water, milk protein and lactose are separated by centrifugation. In order to evaporate the last water residues, the butterfat is heated again to about 100 °C in a vacuum vessel. The clarified butter is then whipped with air or nitrogen and filled.

If clarified butter is to be made at home as a basis for fine sauces, it is not necessary to heat the butter for 30 minutes. It is then sufficient to heat the butter briefly, skim off the resulting foam, pour off the butter and leave the whey in the pot. In this respect, the terms clarified butter and clarified butter are not entirely identical.

The production of clarified butter was subsidised by the EU for a time in order to reduce the (then) surplus of butter (‘butter mountain’). To prevent recirculation into butter through emulsification, which would be tantamount to subsidy fraud, stigmasterol had to be added to the clarified butter (required by law), which then served as an indicator. As the butter surplus has no longer been considered problematic since 2008, the subsidy ended and with it the obligation to add Stigmasterin.

Special forms of clarified butter


In Indian and Pakistani cuisine, ghee is one of the most important cooking fats. The Indian ghee (Audio-Datei / Hörbeispiel sync and corrections by n17t01?/i) ([

gʰiː]; Sanskrit ghṛta, n.; Hindi घी, ghī, m.; English ghee) is produced by different processes (different in northern India than in southern India) and therefore has different qualities, flavors, and shelf lives.

Nitir qibe

In Ethiopian cuisine, clarified butter – Amharic nitir qibe(ንጥር ቅቤ, nət’ər qəbe, often called niter qibe) or tesmi in Tigrinya – also has a long tradition and is one of the ingredients characteristic of the country’s cuisine.

Butterfat or butteroil

For the food industry and large bakeries, butterfat is industrially cold-produced (therefore not “lard”) and traded worldwide as an economic good under the English designation butter oil or butter fat. According to the Dr. Oetker Lebensmittellexikon, its fat content must be at least 96 %, while the residual water content must not exceed 0.2 %.[4] Its melting point is 42 °C. Concentrated butter must not contain more than 0.5 % free fatty acids and its shelf life, even at room temperature, is at least one year. The saponification value is given as 225 (range 218 to 235), the iodine value as 30 (range 25 to 38).[5]

Individual references

  1. Jürgen Martin: The ‘Ulmer Wundarznei’. Introduction – text – glossary to a monument of German technical prose of the 15th century. Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 1991 (= Würzburger medizinhistorische Forschungen. Band 52), ISBN 3-88479-801-4 (also medical dissertation Würzburg 1990), p. 151 (milchsmalz: milk lard, rendered butter, synonym: buttersmalz ).
  2. Clarified butter.In: GermanNutrition Advice and Information Network (DEBInet). Retrieved 30 December 2013.
  3. Alfred Töpel: Chemistry and physics of milk. Natural substance, raw material, food. Behr, Hamburg 2004, ISBN 3-89947-131-8, p. 153 (excerptedat Google-Books).
  4. Dr. Oetker food encyclopedia. 4. Edition. Oetker, Bielefeld 2004, ISBN 3-7670-0590-5.
  5. Hermann Pardun: Analyse der Nahrungsfette. Paul Parey Verlag, Berlin/ Hamburg 1976, ISBN 3-489-78814-1.