Project 26: Better Butter

Part A – Keep butter under water.

This project was inspired the Butter Bell Butter Crock available at vat 19. My kids love the vat 19 website and after my daughter showed me this product, I thought it was worth a try. I first became aware of this kind of crockery while living in France, but hadn’t tried it out until now. I took a ramekin and larger bowl and made my own version.

I filled the ramekin with soft butter and then inverted it in a bowl of cold water. It works! Butter stays soft and fresh tasting for as long as it takes us to finish the butter, which is only a few days. I changed the water daily, more or less. I also tried it on a smaller scale with a egg cup inverted into a dish of water. The only tip I have is to make sure the surface of the butter is smooth before setting it into the water, otherwise you may find floaties. It’s only butter, so it’s purely an aesthetic concern.

Part B – Make Ghee (clarified butter)

My friend Swati taught me how to make ghee and cook Indian vegetarian food. I usually make ghee on the stove by cooking butter in a pot over medium heat until it melts. I partially cover it because it splatters at first. Then I turn down the heat and stay near by and listen for the sound to change from a constant crackling to a slow down indicating that the ghee is almost ready. If you continue to cook the milk solids until they become brown, the flavour will be more nutty and toasty. You could do this on purpose (or say you did) and call it “beurre noisette” or browned butter.The last step is to separate the liquid clarified butter or ghee from the solids. I use a very fine tea strainer to filter the ghee into a container and discard the milk solids. It does a pretty good job and it is easy to clean up. In the past I have used a double layer of cheesecloth in a strainer to do the job.

I was curious about making ghee in a slow cooker and found that other people have blogged about this method including lots of photos, (for instance at the Grass Fed Girl blog, and at the Butter Believer blog.) I tried it with my small 4 cup slow cooker and 1 pound of butter on low for 6-8 hours with the lid propped up with a chopstick to allow steam to escape. I probably could have strained it earlier. This method works fine too, although I found that I was impatient since the stove top method normally takes about 30 minutes, but it is hands free aside from checking on doneness towards the end. If you prepare ghee on the stove, do not walk away! I have learned that lesson the hard way. Browned butter becomes burnt butter and clouds of smoke. No way to claim you did that on purpose…

Ghee is great to take camping, which I was inspired to do after borrowing the Paddling Chef cookbook from the library. It does not go bad as fast as butter. It does not require refrigeration. If you do keep in the cooler, it stays soft and spreadable. Most importantly, it tastes great! As far as I’m concerned it is half the reason why lobster tastes so good. Anything tastes better with clarified butter!
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