You Won't Believe It's Not Butter
Ghee (pronounced with the hard "g" sound) is an excellent addition to your kitchen staples. It’s a versatile, lactose-free cooking fat, and it has a variety of uses and benefits. Let’s talk about what ghee is, its benefits, and how to make your own.
What is ghee?
Ghee is the most refined essence of butter. In other words, it’s a type of clarified butter. To make clarified butter, you melt the butter until the milk solids (and excess water) are separated and removed. Making ghee goes one step further by roasting the milk solids (before removing them) to bring out a roasted, toasty, nutty flavor and aroma.
Ghee is widely used in Indian and South Asian cooking, and it’s extremely prevalent in Ayurvedic cooking and therapies. You can use ghee in any way that you would use butter: as a cooking fat to saute, roast, or bake with, as a spread or a drizzle, and even as skincare. It also has a very high smoke point - 485 degrees - compared to butter (302) and olive oil (375-400).
What are the benefits of ghee?
If you’re lactose intolerant but love butter, ghee is your light at the end of the tunnel. While still providing flavor and fat, the troublesome aspects of butter - the milk proteins and sugars - are removed for easier digestion and healing in the gut.
We need healthy fats in our diet (always in moderation), especially in the colder months of the year. Healthy fats are stabilizing, building, and grounding, and they keep us full and satiated between meals. Ghee is light to digest yet penetrates and supports the body’s tissues, carrying the nutrients of our food deep into our bodies.
Ghee is high in monounsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, such as butyric acid. These are linked to heart health, strong immune function, anti-inflammation, and overall gut health. Ghee also contains plentiful amounts of vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Ghee is shelf-stable. It can last in your cupboard for about a month, or in the fridge for about 3 months, whereas butter will spoil faster due to the milk fats.
How to make your own ghee:
Buying ghee can be somewhat expensive, yet making your own is really quite easy and satisfying. Turn on some good tunes, infuse your ghee with love and care, and be fed by it in return!
What you’ll need:
a medium-sized, heavy-bottom saucepan
organic, grass-fed, unsalted butter (recommended 2 sticks (½ lb) at a time)
cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer
a clean, dry jar (2 sticks of butter will make just less than a cup of liquid ghee)
Step 1: Melt the butter
Slice the butter into small pads and put them in your saucepan to melt over medium-low heat. Take care not to boil or burn the butter, aim for an easy simmer.
Step 2: Separate and remove the whey
As your butter heats, you will start to notice a white foam float to the top. This is the whey and water evaporating. Allow this process to unfold for approximately 5-10 minutes, still taking care the butter doesn’t get too hot (adjust for your stovetop). Once the foam is thick over the top, gently scrape it off and discard it. Turn the heat to low.
Step 3: Roast the milk solids
Once all the whey has been removed, the remaining liquid fat should be a clear, golden color. You may then start to see the white milk solids at the bottom of the pan. At this point, we’ve made clarified butter. To make ghee, continue to roast the milk solids until they are a rich brown color. Timing will vary, but you can expect approximately 5-15 minutes. (Hint: Your nose can help you know when they’re adequately roasted!)
Step 4: Cool, strain, and store
Once your milk solids are a nutty brown color, remove the pot from heat and let it cool for about 15 minutes. While the ghee is cooling, grab your jar and choice of a strainer, either a fine mesh strainer or several layers of cheesecloth. We recommend the cheesecloth, as it does a better job of catching the small solids that can sneak into the jar. When you are ready, slowly and patiently strain the ghee and seal it up!
Pro tip: Cooling your ghee in the fridge will give it a kind of cold-pressed effect, making it nice and smooth. Once it sets, you can store your ghee at room temperature so it remains silky, soft, and spreadable.
*Note: Make sure your pots, jars, and utensils are dry and clean. Water can contaminate the ghee.