Loving butter as I do, I have a great sympathy for those who cannot eat it due to lactose intolerance. Recently, I was visiting my Dad and his wonderful caretaker Shelly Tilly and her mom Pat who is a retired registered nurse. Shelly's enchantingly adorable daughter, Jessie Ray, ate the corn that I made for dinner, slathering it with gobs of butter despite her lactose intolerance. Sure enough, she was sick all night. This inspired me to teach her how to treat butter to remove the 'devil' lactose which is the milk solids.Its really very simple and the resulting clarified butter not only tastes extra delicious, especially if you allow the milk solids to brown, but it is also useful for frying as it has a higher melting point and since the process removes the water as well, it doesn't even spatter. My reward for doing this is not only that Jessie Ray will be able to enjoy butter in so many ways (except where it requires the milk solids such as pie crust--stay tuned for the solution to this coming soon) but also I learned a new trick! I always pour the clarified butter through a very fine strainer to remove every trace of the milk solids. I advise people to line their strainers with cheesecloth if the strainers are coarser. But since there were no strainers or cheesecloth in the house, I allowed the butter to congeal at room temperature for several hours. I brought over a strainer from my dad's house, reheated the butter in a microwave and poured it through the strainer. To my amazement, instead of the milk solids pouring into the strainer, they stayed congealed at the bottom of the cup. Not a speck got into the clarified butter. This means that if you have the patience to wait, you don't need a strainer at all! To make clarified butter, place unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan and allow it to soften. Over medium-low heat, melt the butter and cook until bubbling. Watch carefully so that the milk solids don't burn. They don't start becoming golden until the bubbling noise stops, indicating that all the water has evaporated. Sometimes the froth forming on the top hides the color of the milk solids so move it aside with a spatula. Just as soon as the milk solids become golden pour the liquid into a heat-proof container. If you want a deeper flavor allow the solids first to become golden brown. The French call this beurre noisette which means butter the color of a hazelnut. If desired, for those who are not lactose intolerant, reserve the milk solids for future use to enhance bread dough, or vegetables such as baked potato or green beans. Another great benefit of clarified butter is that it keeps refrigerated for more than a year as there are no milk solids to make it rancid.
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