So what is this ghee thing that everyone seems to be raving about?
Ghee is essentially clarified butter which has had the milk proteins taken out creating a clear oil which can be used in cooking, cosmetics and medicine. Ghee originated in ancient India and is a commonly used oil in Ayurveda. Ghee is delicious! It smells like movie theater popcorn butter while it is cooking and tastes amazing!
There are many benefits to using ghee.
- It has a high smoking point so it is great for cooking.
- Many people who have dairy allergies find they can handle ghee.
- Ghee does not need to be refrigerated and lasts a long time.
- Its medical properties are said to improve with age.
- Ghee is great for digestion: it improves absorption and the assimilation of foods. (Vasant Lad)
- Ghee strengthens the brain and nervous system and helps to improve memory. (Vasant Lad)
- Ghee is used as a remedy for inflammatory issues in Ayurveda. (Tierra)
- Ghee helps lubricate the joints and organs.
- Ghee is rich in fatty acids (Omega-3 & Omega-6) and vitamins A, E & K.
- The list goes on and on!
Ghee can be pretty pricey to buy, but is really easy to make. It just takes time and patience and of course …LOVE!
Here are the simple steps I learned from my teacher for making ghee at home:
The only ingredient you need is unsalted butter. Get the good stuff, it’s worth it! Make sure it says it’s made from Grass-fed, Cultured Cream. I like to use organic, grass-fed Irish butter. The better the butter, the better the ghee.
I like to make small batches and find that 32oz (4 – 8oz packages) of butter is the perfect amount to fit in a one quart size (32oz) mason jar. The butter cooks down so it does leave enough space and does not fill to the top.
Melt the butter in a sturdy pot over medium heat. Bring it to just a boil. Boil for about a minute and then reduce the heat to low. There will be a white foam layer. Do not cover the pot. It is important to boil the water out.
The butter will bubble and splatter a lot at first then the bubbles will become smaller and more settled. While this is happening, it is a good time to throw kisses and love to your ghee.
At this time you will start to smell that movie theater popcorn butter smell. The process takes about 20 to 30 minutes depending on the amount of butter used, cookware and altitude.
Some people like to scrape off the top layer of foam, I generally leave it (it strains out anyway). I just take a spoon and move the foam from side to side towards the end of the cooking time to check for doneness.
You will see that the milk solids have sunk to the bottom of the pot. That is the part you want to keep an eye on. Once the solids have turned from white to a nice golden brown, then the ghee is done. The top foam will also give you a clue as the edges and some areas start to turn to a golden brown.
Some people like to let it cook a little longer so that the milk solids turn to a deeper golden brown. This creates more of an amber colored ghee and gives it a richer, deeper and nuttier flavor.
Be careful not to burn your ghee! Once those milk solids turn black and are burnt, the ghee is burnt. Ghee should not be left unattended. It is easy to walk away and come back to find a burnt, smoking pot of ghee. It will smell and taste burnt if it gets to that point.
Turn off the heat and let the ghee sit to cool while you set up your straining equipment. A mason jar, funnel and coffee filter are all that are needed. I find it helpful to also use a strainer inside the funnel.
Once the ghee is cool enough to work with (but still warm enough to flow easily through the filter), slowly pour small portions at a time through your filter and into the jar. This is another exercise in patience. You cannot rush this part or you will end up with a mess. Once you are finished and the ghee has cooled completely, tightly seal the lid and store in a cool dry place.
Ghee does not need to be refrigerated. However, many people still prefer to refrigerate their ghee. It is a matter of preference. Ghee may not last as long in the refrigerator. Moisture is not a friend to ghee so make sure you use a clean, dry spoon when scooping out your ghee. If moisture gets into you ghee, it can turn it rancid.
* As with many oils, if you have high cholesterol or suffer from obesity, you should be cautious about using ghee.
Tierra, K. P. (n.d.). The Way of Ayurvedic Herbs.
Vasant Lad, B. M. (n.d.). The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies.