Those who know me know that I love ghee! Ghee is “clarified butter” meaning that it is butter minus water and dairy solids. Bhavaprakash, a major Ayurvedic text, states that “Ghee is … good for the eyes, stimulant for digestion, supports glow and beauty, enhances memory and stamina, promotes longevity, and protects the body from various diseases.” (1)
Ghee production increases levels of butyric acid, which is believed to improve digestion and nourish tissues (2). Ghee also contains elevated levels of the unsaturated fatty acid conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), “a chemical that may have anticarcinogenic properties” (1), compared to milk and butter. “Milk fats … from cow or buffalo milk contained 0.6 and 0.5% CLAs, respectively … microbial fermentation during curd formation increases the CLA content of milk fats to 1.0% … Heating of milk fats … as in ghee making, is known to increase CLA content. There is a further increase of CLA content (2.5-2.8%) in ghee samples when butter is clarified at higher temperatures (120˚C) than at the 110˚C (1.1-1.3%) traditionally used in villages to make ghee.” (3)
In my opinion, ghee tastes better than butter and is a great substitute in baking if you want to avoid dairy. It is possible to find ghee in some stores, but I have found that making my own is easier and tastes better! So, here is my recipe for homemade ghee, complete with photos!
(makes about 1.5 cups of ghee)
One pound of organic, cultured, unsalted butter
1. Melt butter in a saucepan at medium heat.
2. Once the butter is melted, turn the heat down to between low and medium. Leave it at this heat uncovered and undisturbed. It is fine if the butter boils!
3. About 10 minutes after the butter boiling, you will notice steam rising off the butter, foam forming on top, and gurgling, crackling, or squeaking noises. At this point the butter will smell somewhat rancid. Don’t worry! You’re getting there…
And then, as the foam thickens, like this:
4. About 25-30 minutes after the butter boiling, the foam will dissipate, the noises have quieted, and the ghee smells like hot popcorn. The milk solids at the bottom will be golden coloured and the ghee will be clear. These are all signs that the ghee is done!
5. Remove the ghee from heat and skim off the remaining foam using a spoon.
6. Filter the ghee into a clean glass jar through cheesecloth. I fold the cheesecloth so there are 4 layers.
7. Let the ghee cool, then cover and store in the fridge, where it will become solid. This is what it looks like once it cools and hardens:
- Sharma, H., & Clark, C. (1998). Contemporary Ayurveda. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone.
- Lad, V. D. (1998). The complete book of Ayurvedic home remedies. New York: Three Rivers Press.
- Aneja, R. P., & Murthi, T. N. (1991). Beneficial effects of ghee. Nature, 350, 280.