Ghee or Clarified Butter

clarified butter

Ghee or clarified butter (also known as drawn butter) is a casein free alternative to regular butter.  Both ghee and clarified butter have the milk proteins casein and whey removed and what remains is butter fat.

Casein is a protein that many people do not tolerate, especially people who cannot tolerate gluten.  That is because gluten and casein have a similar molecular structure.

If you would like to learn more, Dr. Vikki Petersen has an interesting article on gluten and casein intolerances at Gluten Free Fox.

For over a year now I have been dairy free (in addition to gluten free) because of the effect that gluten and casein can have on Hashimoto’s thyroid disease, which I have.  Technically, I only need to be casein free and I have begun branching out a little to include some dairy that is free of casein.  Primarily, ghee and clarified butter.

From what I have read, it seems that ghee and clarified butter are basically the same thing except that ghee is heated longer which results in less water (due to evaporation), a darker color, and a toffee like flavor.

While ghee and clarified butter can be bought at health food stores, you can also make them at home.  I prefer to use clarified butter because I don’t always want the toffee flavor.

I have not used clarified butter in baking, at least not much.  I mostly use it in cooking when I really want a little butter flavor with something.  Clarified butter is a good high heat fat to use.  Without the proteins it has a high smoke point.

When you melt butter without stirring it, you will notice that foam rises to the top.  That is whey.  Under the whey is the butter fat, and casein sinks to the bottom.  The whey is usually skimmed off the top with a spoon.  What you don’t get by skimming is strained off.

melted butter

The goal is to leave the casein in the bottom of the pot and only pour the butter fat through the strainer.  The strainer and cheesecloth are there to catch the little bit extra whey and casein.  However, I have found a residue in the bottom of my strained butter (even with four layers of cheesecloth) so I strain it several times just to be sure all the casein is removed.

Don’t try using a coffee filter to strain it.  I tried that once and the fat would not go through it.  Smile

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Ghee or Clarified Butter
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Ingredients
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • strainer
  • cheese cloth
  • bowls or large measuring glasses
  • sauce pan
Instructions
  1. Cut the butter into chunks and place them in the sauce pan. I find that one pound is a good amount to work with, but you can use any amount you want.
  2. Heat on low until the butter is melted and bubbly. Do not stir!
  3. Whey will float to the top and be foamy. Use a large spoon to skim the whey off the top. You don’t have to worry about getting all of it, just get most of it.
  4. Casein will sink to the bottom of the pot. Butter does not contain a lot of casein, but there is some.
  5. Once the butter is melted, has bubbled and spluttered a little, and foam is no longer rising, you are ready to strain it if making clarified butter.
  6. If making ghee, continue heating it until the butter turns a golden brownish color and smells like toffee.
  7. Place multiple layers of cheesecloth into a wire strainer (not a colander) and set the strainer over a bowl. I like to use a 4 cup glass measuring cup.
  8. Carefully pour the butter into the strainer, holding back any solid stuff you see at the bottom.
  9. I strain a total of three times to be sure the casein is removed. Some people only strain it once. The more you strain, the less volume you will end up with.
  10. If straining more than one, use a second bowl or measuring cup to strain again. Using a measuring cup allows you easily pour from one to another. You may notice some light colored solid residue at the bottom of the first bowl/cup. Hold that back and discard it.
  11. When done straining, pour the butter into small containers and refrigerate for use.

 




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Comments

  1. What a great post! I had no idea that clarifying butter would make it gluten free! I’ve been trying to cut back on gluten but with all the cooking I do for my own blog, and the fact that I’m a Southern girl!, I use butter daily, even if only in small amounts. I’m going to make a batch of clarified butter today! ~Lauren

  2. I know this is an old post, I stumbled upon it looking for whether ghee was casein free. I looked at that .pdf from the Children’s Hospital and it does not list butter as containing gluten. It is a gluten-free/casein-free handout and butter is listed under “containing casein” only.

    Just wanted to clarify in case anyone else stumbles upon this and is confused. Thanks for all the great info about clarified butter!

    • Hi Katy. Thanks for your comment. I just checked the pdf again, and it’s definitely listed under foods that contain gluten on page 2. I’m just not sure how accurate that is.

      • It’s not accurate at all. People just get confused with the whole gluten-free, casein-free business. Casein is simply a protein found in dairy products except eggs (but can be removed like you explain in this post)/

        “Gluten is basically the protein content of wheat (including spelt, semolina and durum) barley, rye and triticale (a hybrid). It makes the dough stretchy and helps ingredients bind together.”

        Can’t wait to try this and make some clarified butter for my spectrum kiddo! Thanks for such a great post.

  3. Whoops! I was looking for the word “butter” instead of “ghee”, that’s why I missed it!

    I did a little looking and I definitely think that .pdf has a mistake, my guess is that ghee should have been under “could contain casein”, since it theoretically could have trace amounts. Here (http://www.pureindianfoods.com/), where they seem to be “experts” on ghee, they say it is gluten-free, and I found it on many gf-cf websites at casein free, and I’m sure if it had gluten they would warn people against it.

    Too bad that hospital has (most likely) faulty info!

    Anyway, thanks for responding to my comment. I was really just trying to find out if ghee was casein free and am glad to see that it is! Thanks!

    • Thanks for looking into that a little more. You confirmed what I though about ghee being gluten free. I’m glad you got your answer too.

  4. Hi Linda -
    Thanks for explaining the difference between clarified butter and ghee. Also, you made the process of preparing some simple and do-able!

  5. Thanks for the post. I have not been giving my son ghee because I thought it contained ceasin. Now that I know. Yipee!

  6. Great post and thank you for describing the difference between ghee and clarified butter. Does ceasin free make it dairy free? Is Ghee or clarified butter dairy free?

    • No, ghee is not dairy free because it is still butter. Casein is a protein found in dairy products.

      • Aparna says:

        Ghee and clarified butter are not the same thing and don’t just differ in heating time. Ghee is made from cream/butter that is separated from curd. curd is made by padturizing raw milk and then fermenting it for 4-6 hours. Fermentation changes a lot of proteins in milk and makes them easy to digest. we churn milk without overheating the milk and separate the butter and make ghee with it. The ghee that is golden yellow and grainy is the real ghee… Everything else is just clarified butter! I’m indian and this is how traditional ayurvedic ghee is made in India. You can do more reasearch on ayurvedic ghee and curd making.

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