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I was making spicy clarified butter but wanted to avoid the flecks of red or black that can throw off the color of a dish. I decided to steep some basil and a few other herbs with an habanero in the butter and then remove them.

The butter did not come out nicely AT ALL. Despite letting it cool for some time, the butter never re-solidified. I was rushed and didn't have cheesecloth so I might have done a poor job at removing the solids. At the normal temperature of my kitchen, butter, clarified or otherwise, will solidify - but not this stuff.

Is it possible that the oils from the herbs and pepper prevented it from setting up?

I wouldn't think a handful of herbs and a singular hot pepper would have enough oil to prevent 12+ ounces of clarified butter from setting up.

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(1) A few hours really isn't all that long to wait; and (2) it's a reasonable question, but you could be a little clearer. You say "it did not come out that nicely" and then we have to read on to figure out that you apparently mean that it didn't solidify. Perhaps you'd like to edit it? –  Jefromi Aug 14 '12 at 23:08
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I never mentioned the amount of time I waited because if the reason the butter didn't solidify is due to the oils from plants, then it's never going to unless the oil's unsaturated carbon bonds reduce (gain electrons) miraculously. Is...240 hours enough time to wait? With one sentence separating my 'it didn't come out nicely' and the explanation for it not coming out nicely I can't think of anything I could edit to make it easier to understand. –  wootscootinboogie Aug 15 '12 at 0:43
    
@woot- My suggestion for added clarity. My apologies if I inadvertently altered your meaning in any way. –  Sobachatina Aug 15 '12 at 3:52
    
We've been chatting about this. Did you leave that out of the fridge or did you leave it at room temperature? –  BaffledCook Aug 15 '12 at 10:13
    
@BaffledCook it was left out at room temp. However, the last ten pounds of butter I clarified (at left at room temperature) come out nicely so I was scratching my head as to why this didn't come out right. I suppose I won't worry about it too much unless it happens again. –  wootscootinboogie Aug 15 '12 at 12:25
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1 Answer

up vote 6 down vote accepted

I can only guess that something from the herbs has "disturbed the balance of the mix" and is preventing it from setting.

Putting my chemist's hat on, the problem is similar to what happens when a solid reaction product forms an emulsion and refuses to precipitate. When that happens, there are ways to induce precipitation, but not all of them can be applied to food.

Try adding a pinch of salt - mix, and wait.

If that fails, smear a knife blade with some fresh butter and stir the mix with it.

If that fails, try cooling it.

If that fails, try mixing in a pinch of bicarbonate of soda.

There are other suggestions, but I assume you want to eat the butter once it solidifies. Ideally, you want to find that happening after one suggestion has worked. If it takes a succession of suggestions to find a way to solidify it, this is about as far as you can go without the product starting to "lose its intention".

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+1 for bicarb of soda, overly acid fats tend to stay liquid, so some strong, but relatively flavourless alkaline should do it. Cooling it too quickly tends to make it go cloudy and sort of lumpy –  TFD Aug 15 '12 at 11:55
    
I've been using it for caramelizing onions and once it's melted you can't tell how ugly it was anyway :). The sodium bicarb is a good idea. –  wootscootinboogie Aug 15 '12 at 12:27
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