Storing melted butter
Last night I was planning on making Alton Brown's Chewy recipe, and had already started melting the butter for it when I learned that the occasion my cookies were for had been canceled. I let the melted butter cool and put it in a container and into my fridge. Any chance I can use this butter later on for either this cookie recipe or something else calling for melted butter (I'd obviously re-heat/re-melt)? While I didn't want to just throw away the butter if there was a chance I could still use it successfully, I'd rather chalk up my losses and throw out the butter if there is a chance that using it in a recipe will mess up the chemistry of things and thus cause me to throw out many more ingredients than just butter. I'm unlikely to have any use for it in cooking and instead would only have a use for it in baking.
Assuming that I can store it, any idea for how long? Thanks!
That butter is fine. It will last as long as butter usually lasts in your fridge. Melting it will cause the solids to separate, but this won't have any effect on something like cookies. Just re-melt or soften, stir well, and proceed. You don't need to limit its use to things calling for melted butter. It didn't undergo any chemical changes if you simply melted it--separation of the milk solids is just that, a physical separation. It's still the same butter it was before.
butter is about 20% h2o. depending upon how aggressively it was melted, it is possible that some of the water evaporated/steamed off. if you're a real stickler about baking, then only use it for recipes that call for melted butter (remelt it as gently as possible); a pie crust, for instance, that needs the steam from the h2o in the butter might turn out a little different. for any other kind of cooking, it will be fine, although possibly a little richer if some of the moisture is gone.
One alternative would be to start fresh with new butter for the cookie recipe, and convert the existing batch to clarified butter (aka ghee). This is butter that's melted and cooked slowly until the water has evaporated, has the foam skipped off the top, and is then poured off into a container, leaving all the milk solids behind. It will keep much longer than fresh butter (up to a year!), and is a traditional cooking fat in India & Pakistan. You can use it at much higher temperatures than fresh butter too, since it's the milk solids that burn when cooking with normal butter.
Thanks for the suggestions Bob. I actually had that thought last night, though have never actually used ghee, so I wasn't clear if what I had was equivalent to/could be made into ghee. I'll have to hunt around for some recipes using clarified butter/ghee. I'm not really a fan of Indian food so I would probably look for some other genre of cuisine to use the butter/ghee in. Thanks for the suggestion!
re: Laura D.
Laura, I use clarified butter for cooking all the time and never cook Indian food myself. I love Indian food but eat it in restaurants because they do a great job of it.
Clarified butter is an excellent cooking fat. It allows you to use butter without the risk of scorching or burning the milk solids in butter. I clarify about a pound of unsalted butter at a time and store it in a covered jar in the fridge.
Great for sauteeing fish filets, pan sauces, vegetables, etc. Any simple dish or sauce, especially blonde rouxs. Just because some people use the Indian word for it, you don't have to.