I am making a 20kg batch for my niece's birth (I like the old traditions of the world!), and was wondering if anyone could direct me.

There seems to be recipes calling for fresh butter (https://www.thespruceeats.com/smen-moroccan-preserved-butter-with-thyme-2394939), and recipes calling for clarified butter (https://www.thespruceeats.com/smen-recipe-plain-salted-preserved-butter-2394938)

I need one to store for decades, so am wondering about the clarified butter one without the herb 'starter culture'.. and as an aside (for interest), are the differences just regional?

  • 1
    I really don't know much about smen at all, but a cursory search of online sources seems to indicate that the majority of procedures and references call for clarifying the butter in some way (at least in the English language sources). But I have no idea what might be most traditional.
    – Athanasius
    Commented Dec 14, 2019 at 23:55

1 Answer 1


Clarified butter has had most of the water removed and so has a much longer shelf life than fresh butter. I assume this is why it is often found in the cuisines of warmer climates.

Water is required for fermentation so if the butter was truly clarified it would not ferment. That's kind of the point of clarified butter.

The second recipe only partially clarified the butter. The milk solids are strained but the water isn't separated out.

I suspect this is done for flavor and appearance. The browned solids would add complexity to the flavor even after they were strained out. The color would be more vibrant when it is used without the browned solids.

I can't speak to the authenticity of either method but I suspect the clarified butter would be more authentic because it would be more common in Morocco. Kind of like how all Indian recipes call for ghee even when butter works fine. It's what they had on hand.

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