Well first off, What exactly is ghee? Ghee is clarified butter that has been cooked longer to produce a nuttier flavor and golden appearance. We consider ghee a staple cooking fat in our household (Fats are vitally important to our health, and if you'd like to know more about why good fats are good for you, check out our blog on fats here). Ghee has been used for millennia in Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine, and is perhaps one of the tastiest and most nutritious cooking fats out there. It has been steadily gaining popularity in American kitchens over the last several years, but it is quite costly to purchase in grocery stores, and it still leaves many people with dairy allergies or sensitivities confused as to whether it is safe to eat or not. We hope these Top 4 Reasons to Make Your Own Ghee dispel some of the confusion and mystery around ghee, and hope the simple recipe that follows inspires you to make your very own ghee again and again!
Top 4 Reasons to Make Your Own Ghee
Reason #1- Ghee is lactose free and casein free! People with dairy sensitivities tend to avoid butter because it contains both lactose sugars and casein proteins. Lactose can wreak havoc on the digestive tract of lactose intolerant individuals, while other people who cannot properly digest casein proteins will exhibit an allergic reaction that can leave hives and rashes on the skin. Butter is mainly composed of 80% milk fat, 18% water, and 1-2% milk solids (the lactose sugars and casein proteins are part of these milk solids). Pure ghee is essentially just concentrated milk fat, with the water and milk solids (including the lactose sugars and casein proteins) removed. Ghee is therefore safe to consume for most people with any type of dairy sensitivity. There can be trace amounts of lactose and casein left in the final product, so we caution those with extreme dairy sensitivities to try ghee in small amounts first to ensure no adverse reactions before putting ghee in your regular cooking rotation.
Reason #2- Ghee has a very high smoke point, making it safe to cook with at high temperatures! You may have heard that you should not use vegetable oils to cook with at higher temperatures, and this is indeed true. The smoke point of an oil is the temperature at which the oil starts to de-stabilize, and when that smoke point is exceeded the oil can become rancid and oxidized. When these rancid oils are consumed, they deposit free radicals in the body, increasing the body’s susceptibility to a host of conditions and diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease, to name a few. Vegetable oils, being unsaturated in nature, have significantly lower smoke points than animal fats (coconut oil is an exception to this, and we also highly recommend coconut oil in your regular rotation, especially if your diet is vegan-based), and should therefore be used sparingly in cooking, especially at high heats. On the other hand, ghee has a very high smoke point (485°F), significantly higher than butter even (350°F), and so it is very stable to cook with even at high temperatures.
Reason #3- Ghee is perhaps the tastiest of all cooking fats! Those who eat butter already know of butter’s superior taste profile. But if ghee comes directly from butter, how is ghee even tastier than butter? Well, when making ghee, milk solids in the butter begin to separate and fall to the bottom of the pan. As heating continues, the milk solids begin to brown and roast, releasing a roasted taste into the surrounding ghee oil. The result is an intoxicating nutty aroma and flavor profile in the ghee that is even beyond the taste of butter! We admit that it is difficult to avoid eating our home-made ghee directly from the jar because it tastes so darn good.
Reason #4- Making your own ghee is a fraction of the cost of buying it in the store. While we won’t skimp out on price when it comes to quality cooking fats, we also believe that food markets can and will gouge you on prices of off-the-shelf ghee. To compare, a 13oz. jar of Organic Valley ghee can run a hefty price of $14-15 on average at your local grocery store, but 4 sticks of Organic Valley cultured pasteurized butter costs between $7-8 on average, and will yield a 13oz. jar of ghee in the end. Saving 50% on cost should be reason enough alone to make your very own ghee!
And now that we have shared with you the Top 4 Reasons to Make Your Own Ghee, here is everything you need as well as the recipe to make it all happen!
· Medium sauce pan. We love our cast iron pan and use it all the time to make ghee. We have not used other types of pans such as stainless steel or ceramic but you can experiment with these if you like.
· Cutting board
· Butter knife
· Metal colander
· Cheese cloth (and some scissors to cut it)
· Mixing bowl (preferably glass) or steel pot
· 1 spoon
· 1 13oz. jar
· Four (4) sticks of unsalted cultured butter. We use Organic Valley cultured butter made from the milk of cows that are pasture-raised. The higher quality your butter source, the better your ghee will taste. We always recommend organic and pasture-raised. Ghee is loaded with this really amazing fatty acid called CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) which plays key roles in your body in reducing body fat, preventing cancer formation, alleviating inflammation, and lowering blood pressure. Pasture-raised cows with organic standards have a much higher percentage of this important fatty acid. Additionally, cultured butter contains some probiotics and keeps many of the enzymes that are destroyed during pasteurization. Probiotics and enzymes help digest food as well as absorb minerals such as calcium.
· Put medium saucepan on low heat
· Using your butter knife, slice all four sticks of butter into medium-thick slices and place into the saucepan. This will allow for a faster melt. Allow butter to slowly melt into the saucepan.
· Once butter has melted, it will begin to heat up and then start to make a crackling sound. You want to make sure the heat is high enough on your stove that you hear some crackling and see a little bubbling, but you also want to make sure that your heat is not so high that the butter jumps out of the saucepan. Adjust heat as necessary to achieve this right balance.
· Keep a close eye on the butter. As the water begins to evaporate, whey proteins will begin to float to the surface and white milk solids will sink to the bottom of the saucepan. The whey proteins will look white and foamy at the top and the milk solids will look white at first at the bottom. Skim some of the whey proteins off using a spoon, just enough so that you can see to the bottom of the pan, as you will want to keep a close eye on those milk solids.
· Continue cooking at low heat for anywhere between 35-60 minutes. You can gently stir with a spoon or tip the pan to gently mix. During this time, closely watch the milk solids at the bottom of the pan. You want the solids to turn brown, but not black. As the milk solids turn brown, they will essentially be roasting the butter fat (which will be your final product), producing a golden color and nutty flavor.
· When all milk solids have turned brown, turn off the heat. Place metal colander over glass mixing bowl or steel pot, and line a double layer of cheesecloth over the colander.
· Slowly and steadily pour contents out of saucepan, filtering them through the cheesecloth and colander. Once you completely pour out the contents, you can discard the solids with the cheesecloth.
The final product will be left in the glass bowl/steel pot. It should have clarity and look dark golden in appearance.
· Pour final ghee product into 13oz. glass jar. You can allow your ghee to cool at room temperature, or place it into the fridge for a slightly more solid texture. Enjoy!