Clarified butter, (aka drawn butter), is whole, unsalted butter that is melted down and allowed to separate so that the milk solids can be removed. This clarification process raises the smoke point and makes it great for cooking.
The easiest way to clarify butter is over a water bath or double boiler. This allows you to gently heat the butter to the boiling point (212°F/100°C at sea level). What happens next is the water bubbles up out of the butter and evaporates, and the whey proteins form a "foam" on top.
Eventually this foam will dehydrate and collapse, leaving you a thin skin of whey protein on top and dry casein particles on the bottom. To finish the process, simply skim off the “skin” and pour off the clarified butter, being careful not to pour off any of the casein that's settled to the bottom.
At Stella, our standard cooking fat is a 50/50 mix of clarified butter and canola oil. Canola has a high smoke point and neutral flavor. The addition of clarified butter gives our proteins, especially fish, a beautiful, golden-brown glaze that can't be easily reproduced by other cooking fats. Since clarified butter is pure fat, it is shelf stable at room temperature for a couple of weeks to a month as long as it's stored in an airtight container. If stored in the refrigerator, clarified butter will last for months.
What is Ghee
Ghee is a clarified butter made using almost the identical technique as above, but is cooked in a pot instead of a double boiler. Because the milk solids come into direct contact with heat, they start to brown, giving the finished Ghee a dark brown color and a nutty aroma.
Ghee is often used in Indian and Middle Eastern Cuisine, especially in the preparation of rice. It has an extremely high smoke point (480°F/248°C), which makes it perfect for high temperature frying, sautés and stir-frys.