Ghee- Healthy, delicious, and easy to make!
I love cooking, and really love cooking different cuisines. Many traditional Indian dishes call for ghee, and while it’s readily available at many natural food and Indian markets, I prefer to make my own. Store-bought ghee can be fairly expensive, and I like to make sure that my dairy-based ingredients are of the best quality, organic, and grass-fed.
Besides Indian cuisine, ghee can be used in the same manner as butter or as a sauteing oil. It has a high smoke point (more on that in a bit,) great flavor, and has some great health benefits.
Ghee is, essentially, rendered butter. It’s different than clarified butter in that it’s cooked down longer, caramelizing the milk solids, and removing more water.
What’s the point? Well, for one, removing the milk solids also removes the lactose, making it digestible for people with milk allergies. This also increases the smoke point, or temperature at which it burns, by 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit. Using an oil beyond it’s smoke point can break the oil down, creating trans-fats as well as carcinogenic compounds. There is evidence that even below the smoke point many vegetable oils (including olive oil!) may break down to include trans-fats. Less is required when sauteing or pan frying as well. Ghee has a more “buttery” flavor than full butter, so less is required for flavoring.
Ghee is made primarily of saturated fats, including some really healthy fats- lineolic acid, an antioxidant; and butyric acid, which has anti-viral properties and may inhibit growth of cancerous tumors. Ghee also contains vitamins A,D,E, and K.
Another benefit of ghee is the increased stability. Ghee can be stored in an airtight container, unrefrigerated, for months.
Many stores now carry pre-made ghee, but it’s so easy I prefer to make mine at home. Plus, you can make sure that the butter you use is high quality, organic, and pasture raised (increasing beta-carotene and conjugated lineolic acid.)
First, put 1” cubes of butter into a saucepan, melt on low heat, and just continue cooking over low heat for 30 minutes or so. You’ll want to be in the kitchen to keep an eye on things, so this is a good project while prepping a meal or washing dishes. A few minutes in, the melted butter will start sputtering, which is normal. You want to cook the butter until it’s a clear, golden color, the foam on top has coagulated and most importantly, the milk solids on the bottom of the pan have browned. remove from heat, and allow to cool a bit.
Alternately, if you have a crock pot, you can make ghee in your slow cooker. Low heat, 6 hours, no risk of burning!
Pour through a fine-meshed sieve. I like to initially pour through the sieve into a measuring cup, then through the sieve into the storage container. It’s important to find an airtight container to avoid oxidation, and glass is preferred. A short, wide mouthed mason-type jar works very well.