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Please don't remind me that I'm poor; I'm having too much fun pretending I'm simply "living green" like everyone else these days.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Canning butter

Not long ago I had a type-talk conversation with someone about canning butter.  I told that person I used to do this. But, was it really only a childhood memory of what I thought I had done?  I remembered canning butter..... but was I really the one doing it?  Did my Grandma fix my mistakes when I wasn't looking?  I began to think my memory was.... hmm..... sort of like the memories Ladybug will have of doing things with me.  I know I helped my Grandma Mama canning butter but I couldn't remember the steps and I couldn't remember ever doing it all by myself.  This kept nagging at me.  I really wanted to know.... did I ever really can butter all by myself or not? 

I called my aunt to ask how Grandma Mama canned butter.  If anyone would remember how Grandma Mama canned butter, it would be her.  After a few minutes of family catching up conversation, I asked about canning butter and whether or not I had actually canned any all by myself.  What my aunt told me had me busting out loud at my light bulb (DUH!) moment.  My aunt said Grandma Mama made clarified butter and canned it.  Yes, I did help to make clarified butter and canned it but I never made it all by myself.  Grandma Mama would send me to fetch something at just the right moment and when I returned the most critical part of the process was already done.

My aunt explained the steps to me.  Clarified butter is a process of removing the milk solids from butter leaving only the fat.  Grandma Mama called it butter lard.  Lard of any kind will last for months without refrigeration.  If you use clarified butter regularly for cooking it rotates often.  Well, after all that wondering, I just had to do some myself.

I'm showing what I did with my butter but if you do an internet search for clarified butter (or ghee) you will find a ton of places with pictures or videos.  Clarified butter is used for cooking but would not taste very good if spread on toast.  It would be like spreading grease or lard on the toast.

Start by melting the butter in a pan over very low heat.  This is at the lowest setting I can get on my stove.  Whatever you do.... don't leave the stove while making clarified butter.  If you must leave then turn the stove off.

As soon as the butter is all melted it will start to foam.  Start gently stirring the butter to keep it from boiling over.  If the butter boils over and gets to the heat you could have a major fire on your stove.

Boil the butter for about 5 minutes while gently stirring.  It will start to separate as the milk solids start to fall to the bottom of the pot.  Keep cooking at a very gentle boil.  It will boil even on the stove's lowest setting.  I actually moved half the pot off the flame to lower the heat and it still boiled. 

Some people will tell you to skim off the foam on the top but I didn't.  I followed the steps given to me by my aunt.  She told me to let it boil for another 5 minutes after it started to separate.

Pretty soon the butter will look like this.  The milk part of butter has fallen to the bottom of the pot and the fat floats at the top.  It separates even more after the heat is turned off.

Pour this clear fat through some gauze fabric but stop pouring when you see the milk part start to go into the bowl.  If you loose a small part of the fat it's ok. You don't want even a little bit of the milk solids to be in the bowl.  You can throw the milk part away or use it in a recipe calling for lots of butter.  Hmm.... like maybe butter cookies.

Here's what the clarified butter looked like after straining it.

My aunt told me that if I wanted to can the butter for long term storage I should boil the butter fat again to remove the last remaining milk solids from it.  So I did.  Here you can see that it's starting to foam again.  This time I did skim the foam off with a spoon. 

By the time I had boiled it for another 5 minutes, while skimming, it looked very clear.  Strain through more clean gauze.

Pour it into clean canning jars.

Two pounds of butter made 1 1/2 pints of clarified butter.  This can be stored either on the counter for about 6 months or in the refrigerator for a couple of years.  As it cools it will become a soft-solid type of lard. 

If you want to store clarified butter for longer times you can water bath can it for 10 minutes.   The reason Grandma Mama canned her butter was because she had lots and lots of extra butter in the spring and a big family to feed.  We didn't have electricity either so no refrigerator.  It was canned to last until the following spring when milk would be plentiful again.  Grandma Mama canned her butter in half gallon jars.

At this time of year the cost of butter should be going down.  It's getting close to the season for butter.  Eggs too.  However, with the economy being so uncertain, and gas prices going up again, we can't be sure the price of butter will actually go down.  If you use butter for cooking really often, and happen onto a bargain, think about making clarified butter.  I plan to use mine when making biscuits that call for using lard.  Butter lard will give a really nice flavor to the biscuits. 

I'm so glad I cleared up the mystery of whether or not I was the one who made canned butter.  Now I can actually say I've done it all by myself. 

1 comment:

Joyful said...

Great job! I'll have to try this.