I was very amused by an ad on British TV (dating back to the mid 1980s I think) for Rawlings Indian Tonic Water … you know, for gin and tonic. In it are featured a threesome made up of a very old Queen Victoria, a very stately Mr Rawlings and, in attendance, a very handsome and younger turban-clad Indian manservant, Tandoori.
Picture the scene if you please: Queen Victoria telephones Mr Rawlings using the very first version of a telephone … and the conversation unfolds as follows:
Queen Victoria (rather pompously and condescendingly): Mr Rawlings, We find your tonic water most refreshing and We have today ordered another bottle.
Mr Rawlings (very chuffed indeed by this compliment): Thank you very much Ma’am.
Queen Victoria: We are intrigued, Mr Rawlings, as to why it is called Indian tonic water?
Mr Rawlings, now visibly flustered by this question to which he obviously does not know the answer, turns to Tandoori, and, covering the telephone mouthpiece so that Queen Victoria won’t hear him, asks him:
Mr Rawlings: Tandoori, why do we call it Indian Tonic water?
And the answer is:
Tandoori: Why not?
Mr Rawlings (hastily making up something credible):I regret, Ma’am, but that must remain of necessity a trade secret.
Queen Victoria hangs up in response.
Mr Rawlings (in a resigned voice): She was not amused.
And that’s how I feel about making clarified butter. About eight years ago, a friend popped round in the late afternoon for a quick cup of tea because she had to pick her children up from some activity or other (and yes, we do drink tea in Italy! Though nowhere nearly as much as in other countries and milk in one’s tea is unheard of). And there we were, deep in conversation, sipping our tea when she turned to the stove top and asked me what I was cooking. She was quite nonplussed when I answered that, actually, I was making clarified butter. “I never heard of anyone making clarified butter just like that in the middle of the afternoon!“ she exclaimed, wondering what on earth would drive anyone to do such a thing.
Just like Tandoori in the above sketch, however, my answer was and is : Why not?
It’s not actually something that one “makes” as such… one lets it “happen”. And, once ready, the clarified butter keeps forever in the fridge. It requires a fairly large amount of butter (at least 500g) otherwise it would not be worth the endeaver, and there is some wastage in the process. Unless you are willing to use a dropper (and even that might not work), there is no way that you can filter all of the melted butter.
This time I used a whole kilo of butter! It needs a double boiler so that the butter can melt bain-marie style … a slotted spoon for removing the caseous cheesy part of the butter … a sieve … and a glass jar for storing the clarified butter in the fridge.
It requires quite a long time before the butter melts properly, so that any water contained therein evaporates and so that it separates into a liquid gold and into a white caseous sticky substance. The butter should melt away for one hour, which is a fairly long stretch of time … but it doesn’t need any special attention at all. You can read a book or watch a film while it’s “happening”.
I do not have a large enough double-boiler and I expect not many people do … So you might do worse than copy my necessity-mother-of-invention solution which was a pair of kitchen tongs.
starting to melt …
every little bit has to be removed!
P.S. If you want to see the Rawlings ad in all its silly glory, click on