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The demand for canned butter can be so great that some survival oriented sites can run out, especially if there is any indication that things might get tough and people start to take extra precautions.
The method for canning Ghee is slightly different than just butter. Please take note that the USDA offers no recommended practices for canning butter in any shape or form. While I am usually the first one to stress food safety, I think when it comes to butter they are wrong to some degree. In India people have been making Ghee for a very long time and I have to say that if people were getting sick it would have fell out of practice a long time ago.
Recommending you only buy canned butter from an inspected place that they approve of sounds like a government supported money grab to me. If they had it their way you would get everything at the store and never value add at home. The lobbyists for the food industry get paid to encourage you to buy from the system.
I am going to tell you how to can Ghee and butter but I do have to offer the disclaimer that you are responsible for making your own food safety decisions. I can say that plenty of people have used these methods to great success but it is up to you to keep your food prep and canning as sanitary as possible and use common sense when opening a jar. If it smells bad then don’t eat it. Part of the reason botulism is rare is that food that has gone off that much is usually stinky or looks unpleasant from the start so no one in their right mind would want to eat it anyway. Okay now that the disclaimer is over let’s talk butter.
The Ghee Method: Making Butter Shelf Stable For A Very Long Time
Ghee is clarified butter that has all the milk solids removed. This creates an oil that can be used to cook at much higher temperatures than regular butter and since the milk proteins are removed it can be canned and preserved to have a shelf life of many many years. Removing the proteins reduces a lot of the chances of botulism or food poisoning so go with Ghee if you are paranoid about food safety but know that a lot of people can pure butter and it keeps for years without getting sick.
To make Ghee you will need
½ pint or pint jars. I like to use ½ pints because they are just more practical for the amount of people I am feeding on average. Ghee keeps well so feel free to use pints if that is what you have. 1 lb of butter will make about 12 ounces of Ghee I estimate.
Rings and lids
Butter. Salted is fine but if you are making Ghee do realize that it will be a lot saltier than some Ghees if you use salted butter. When in doubt you can just use unsalted and add the salt later if desired.
A large pot capable of holding all your butter with room to allow for boiling. Butter is not something you want to have boil over on you.
Cheesecloth (If doing Ghee, not required for just regular butter canning)
Clean and sterilize jars by baking in a 250 degree oven for 20 minutes. Make sure to time this so they are ready to come out as soon as the ghee or butter is ready. You can also just leave then in the oven at 250 until needed but that is not as energy efficient so try to time it close.
Melt butter in pot and bring to a boil.
If you have a gas range that seems to scorch things easily then you might want to put a cast iron skilled on the burner and then put your pot of butter on to melt. Ghee is made by cooking out the milk solids. Bring your butter to a smooth boil. There will be foam on the top. This is moisture coming out of the milk solids and butter as it cooks. Skim this off the top. Boil for 15-20 minutes until all the milk solids are cooked and clumped up. Don’t worry about skimming all of this out now.
Foam to be skimmed off the top.
Butter after skimming a few times. The white stuff is cooked milk solids.
Strain milk solids out using cheese cloth. I just put some in my funnel for filling jars. If you have a really big batch and you want to filter it all at once then use a colander and cheesecloth and filter into a big clean pot then ladle into jars.
Ghee that is still warm and liquefied
Put on lids and rings and tighten.
Check back that all your jars sealed. If the jar didn’t seal then just use it for cooking over the next week or you can always reheat, clean the jar, and seal up again.
Canning Butter Process
For just canning standard butter use the same process for sterilization of jars and rings but process the butter by just bringing it to a to boil for 5 minutes and then ladle into hot jars, wipe rims and put on clean and sterile lids and rings (always use fresh lids unless you are using something like Tattler that are made to be reused.
There is not need to strain butter that you are canning whole so no cheese cloth is needed.
Shake jars every 10 minutes or so lightly to prevent milk solids and oil from staying separated. You need to do this until it solidifies.
Tips for canning butter or ghee on the cheap
Watch out for sales. Around any major holiday is a good time to buy it up!
When you see butter on sale buy up a lot of it and refrigerate and can over the next week or so or you can freeze it until you have enough butter accumulated to do a really big batch or when you have some time to dedicate to it.
Shop at bulk stores or restaurant supply stores.
Look for bulk butter at warehouse stores or restaurant supply stores. Sure you may have to buy 10 lbs or more at a time but you should probably be trying for canning batches that large anyway.
One thing preppers always ask when it comes to food preservation is shelf life. Canned butter is like any other canned good in that it keeps best in a cool place with little light and moisture. Ghee is a product that will stay good under very hot conditions. India can be in the triple digits when at its hottest and it works for them. During my research I came to the conclusion that most preppers say 3-5 years for canned butter and Ghee keeps indefinitely if you did it right and removed all the milk solids. That being said I would not expect more than 10 years.
Commercial Ghee and Canned Butter For Purchase
I will include a few brands that are respected and accessible.
Red Feather has a very long shelf life but it is the equivalent of paying about $10 a lb for butter, which is about 3X the cost of fresh. You may be able to do a bit better on the cost by purchasing in quantity or in conjunction with a large order of many items. People do really love the flavor of this butter and the quality is very high but it comes from New Zealand so any supply disruptions could have an effect on imports and make it harder to find. Even during good times it can sometimes be out of stock.
Best Dried butter alternatives
No dried butter is going to taste the same when reconstituted and spread on toast. Preppers may want to consider buying some canned butter for spreading and then buying some less expensive powdered butter for cooking and baking. This helps you get all the great flavor and texture but makes alternative butter products a little easier on the budget at the same time.
Augason Farms Powdered Butter
This can has a 10 year shelf life and can be used for baking and cooking with good results. Some customers say that when reconstituted it doesn’t compare to fresh or canned butter but is still pretty good.
This powdered butter comes in a 12 ounce can with a desiccant gel pack. It is definitely more expensive than Augason Farms but it also claims to be shelf stable for at least 25 years so even if you buy some Augason or Red Feather Butter, a few cans of this for your very long term food stash might not be a bad idea.
This is some expensive stuff. A lot of it is organic and grass fed so the quality is high but canning your own is going to save you more than half the cost even if you buy organic butter. That being said, here are a few brands worth looking at if you want to just buy some. Also be sure to check the price at your local grocery. This is an item that sometimes is a bit less locally but not always.
Saving Money On Shelf Stable Butter Purchases On Amazon
Prices on Amazon are generally pretty good and you can definitely catch some butter items on sale or make it part of your Prime monthly subscription package where you buy 5 different items in a month and get 15% off. Amazon doesn’t make you do this every month, you can set the schedule but as long as you have 5 items coming that month you can get the discount. It doesn’t have to be expensive things either. A $5 pack of toothpaste, some toilet paper, garbage bags, cat food, and other items you buy every month anyway can count.
How much butter do you need?
Rotating out your butter over the year is a good idea for freshness. Date all your jars and try to use a few every once in awhile but also can some up every year. If you use a lot of butter for cooking than you may want to can some in larger jars. Ghee has the longest shelf life so you may want to consider canning it in larger jars. Butter is one of those items that will become hard to find in a SHTF situation but if you put back some you can enjoy all the flavor and good cooking as well as have a valuable item for trade.
Do you have any experience canning butter or ghee and any tips to share? Please comment below! I would especially like to hear from those that have knowledge about shelf life since there seems to be a lot of differing opinions on it.
Author Bio: Samantha Biggers lives on a mountain in North Carolina with her husband and pack of loyal hounds in a house her husband and she built themselves. When not writing she is working in their vineyard, raising Shetland sheep, or helping her husband with whatever the farm and vineyard can throw at them.
6 Responses to “How to Make and Can Butter: A Guide to Canning Ghee And Butter”
I have found that using half salted butter and half unsalted works great for controlling how salty your canned ghee is.
Why couldn’t you run the ghee through the pressure canning process?
During these past months not being able to find butter at the stores was disturbing. I did find jars of ghee at a local Indian and Paskistani market so that was great.
Today I took the plunge and made my first batch of ghee and it was easy. I put a scant teaspoon of salt in the jar before I filled it and used the hot jar method.
Just to clarify (as I am not a ‘canner’), you are not actually ‘canning’ (either water bath or pressure) the ghee or butter, just using the warm jars and warm product to ‘seal’ the jars? And it’s okay to use regular store bought butter? I know USDA/Ball do not recommend canning butter. But we use a lot of butter, so this would be wonderful! I think I would err on the side of caution, and make/store the ghee, personally. I’ve tried the Red Feather butter, and was not overly impressed. I’ve also gotten ghee from (I think) Emergency Essentials that was wonderful. Great post, Sam, thanks!
I cook my butter for ghee slower, so that it has two ‘boils’. The first boil is the free water, and the second is the water from the denaturing of the protein. Canning the ghee after that is straightforward, with hot jars and the ghee. I use unsalted butter, as the ghee is more condensed. Although I might wan t set some back for longer, my jars of ghee never last more than a year.
Unfortunately, as noted by many reputable sources including the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, “. . . [b]otulinum toxins are colorless, odorless, and presumably tasteless.” This means that you cannot assume that canned food does not contain botulinum toxin just because the food isn’t “stinky” and doesn’t look “unpleasant”. This is why it is so very important to follow safe canning procedures. Put another way: a low-acid canned food that looks and smells O.K. can still contain the toxin that causes botulism if that food was not canned safely.