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I was looking at this question:

How do I butter popcorn without making it soggy?

And it got me wondering: is there any instance, either using melted butter for popcorn or in some other application, where simply melted but not clarified/rendered butter should be used?

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If you were looking at this answer, note that it's not quite the same as clarifying - there's no mention of removing the milk solids, though they may have separated and sunk. If they get mixed back in, then the butter isn't really clarified. –  Jefromi Jan 25 '12 at 20:34
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Your assumption is kind of odd, too. Clarified butter has no water in it, so this is like asking if it's always preferable to use pure fat instead of 80% fat 20% water. In the case of popcorn, maybe so. In the case of a recipe using melted butter that was created using melted butter, and knows that water is there, and will be changed if it's not? –  Jefromi Jan 25 '12 at 21:16
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1 Answer 1

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Essentially clarified butter is butter that has all it's water and milk solids removed. All that is left is butterfat.

Pros and Cons of Clarified/Rendered butter:

Pros:

  • It can be stored longer than regular butter
  • It has a higher smoke point so can be heated higher without burning
  • Does contain negligible lactose for those lactose-intolerant

Cons:

  • Effort. It requires so time to melt the butter, boil off the water, filter out the milk fat, and resolidify the butter again.
  • Taste. Because the milk solids are filtered out, it has a milder "butter" taste than unclarified butter. Of course it will still be much more rich and buttery compared to regular vegetable oil.

With this information in mind, I will leave it to yourself to decide when you should and should not use clarified butter.

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Could you give any sources? –  Mien Jan 25 '12 at 20:06
    
This is actually the article I first used when I created my clarified butter. It's introduction provided me with most of the information I posted: joyofbaking.com/ClarifiedButter.html –  Jay Jan 25 '12 at 20:15
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@Mien: This is reasonably common knowledge. The first sentence is basically a definition (which you can see in the snippet for the wikipedia page which is the first result on google for "clarified butter") and the rest is deduction from that, and can also be found on wikipedia or elsewhere. –  Jefromi Jan 25 '12 at 20:16
    
@Mein, this is not "skeptics", where the children ring out "prove it" to every little thing. Not to say that sometimes sources aren't valuable but, as Jefromi points out, this is pretty common knowledge. Of course, if you disagree with Jay's analysis you are free to offer something constructive. –  Cos Callis Jan 26 '12 at 2:11
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@Mien, sorry for getting your name wrong... the mistake was all mien. ;) –  Cos Callis Feb 9 '12 at 5:18
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