What is Ghee and How to Make Your Own
What is Ghee?
Basically, ghee is butter with the moisture and milk solids removed. This makes ghee in my opinion the best oil to fry with and otherwise use. With no moisture content there is no splashing or splattering when cooking and ghee has a much higher smoke point (375 degrees) than most other oils or butter.
A quality ghee has great aroma and flavor, like a nutty buttery taste. A little goes a long way so you end up using less than you would with butter.
Ghee has been used for over a thousand years in India. Ayurveda, the ancient healing system of India, states that a moderate amount of ghee is the best oil to cook with. It is considered good for digestion, healthy skin and balancing all body types.
Ghee doesn't have to be refrigerated but becomes more of a loose buttery consistency in summer when its hot. It is a solid when refridgerated.
It has a long shelf life and won't go rancid like butter. Butter has over 16% water and solids from milk that can spoil. These are removed in ghee making.
Ghee is sometimes called clarified butter, but this is not really correct. Clarified butter still contains some moisture and ghee does not.
It is well tolerated by people that are lactose intolerent.
Why make your own ghee?
- Ghee is expensive to buy.
- Homemade ghee tastes better and is cheaper.
- You pick the quality of butter to start with.
- It's easy and doesn't take long.
- You can add herbs for flavor.
Making Your Own Ghee
First, you need unsalted butter to start with. It is best to use pure organic butter, but you can use any butter from your local store. Just make sure it is unsalted. After you do this several times you will find that different brands have more milk solids and waste and will yield less ghee, usually the cheaper ones. It's best to buy a better brand.
The following pictures are of 1 pound of butter. Click on any picture to enlarge it. Unwrap the butter and put it in a pot on medium/low heat. I'm using about a 1 quart pot here. Leave the butter out of the refrigerator beforehand so it gets soft.
This whole process is done without ever putting a lid on the pot. Melt the butter and get it bubbling but not full boiling. If you overheat it you will ruin the whole batch.
Here you see it with some foam on top but most was already spooned off and is in the bowl in the next photo. I also threw some cloves in the pot, I like the flavor it adds to the ghee.
To the left you see all the foam I've already spooned off. Below you can see how clear the liquid is. There are solids on the bottom of the pan you can't see.
You don't want to disturb the solids on the bottom. Don't mix them into the liquid, leave them stuck there. Don't stir the ghee at all, just skim foam from the top.
When the ghee is crystal clear, golden yellow and has a slightly nutty aroma, it's done. If you want to be sure there is no moisture left, dip a small piece of paper into the liquid, then over the sink light it on fire. If it crackles or pops there is still moisture present.
Below you see the jars with a piece of cheesecloth on top to strain the ghee. Rubberband the cheesecloth to the jars and pour the liquid from the pot into the jars using a funnel. At right, the ghee is in the jars ready to go to the fridge. The cloves and some foam are on the cheesecloth.
This is the finished product after refrigeration and ready to use!