Ghee comes from a sanskrit word meaning "clarified butter." It had been used in Indian culture for over 5000 years. It is made by simmering butter at a low temperature until the milk fat has separated. The impurities are skimmed off the top and the golden liquid is strained through cheese cloth and the residue on the bottom is discarded. Because the milk solids are removed, it can be left at room temperature and won't go rancid.
Ghee may be the single most important ingredient in Indian cooking. It is a staple in their household and the beginning of all Indian dishes. Ghee is held with high regard as it is made with butter from cow milk. Cows are a sacred animal in India. The mother cow is revered as the physical manifestation of the Goddess as she nurtures and mothers all of us with her nectar. Because the milk solids have been removed, it withstands high heat without becoming caustic or burning. It it also used as a base in Ayurvedic remedies as many of the Ayurvedic adaptogens are fat soluble. This means that their effect and your ability to absorb their benefits in greatly increased when fat is the carrier.
Ghee is a wonderful source of fat for many reasons. As I mentioned before it is great for high heat cooking, but it is also super nourishing for the body. Some of the benefits of ghee includes, but are not limited to:
Free of lactose and casein (all my lactose intolerance friends and family, you can have ghee!)
High in fat-soluble vitamins including A, D, E and K
High in Butyrate, a short chain fatty acid beneficial to gut health. It causes the growth and repair of new tissues in the digestive tract. Butyric acid also balanced and strengthens gut flora and can help to combat candida.
Because it is high in medium chain fatty acids, ghee helps support a healthy metabolism and supports weight loss
Brain Health: Saturated fat is essential for proper brain health and ghee is one of the highest quality saturated fats available.
In Ayurveda there is a term called “Ojas” or life force. Ghee is revered for being high in Ojas and giving vitality and life to the mind, body and spirit.
Any recipe that calls for oil or butter, ghee can replace. I use it to roast veggies, sauté, fry, bake. I drink 1 T of ghee in my latte every morning. It nourishes my body and “gets things going.”
WHY MAKE YOUR OWN
I've been eating ghee for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my mom used it to make Kitcheree (I will share my recipe soon, but in the meantime check out THIS one), spread on toast, add to popcorn and melted over steamed veggies. It wasn't something you found regularly on the grocery store shelves, so we made it ourselves. In the last 5 years, ghee has become more and more popular in the United States. There are a lot of wonderful ghee products out there, but I personally feel that many of them are overpriced for what you get. I find it to be quite important that my ghee is organic. Ghee made from conventional butter may have GMOs, pesticides and toxins. If you can find organic and grass-fed butter, that is even better. If you have to choose between organic and grass-fed, I would go with the organic.
There are several ways to make ghee at home. I am going to share my favorite. It is easier then you can imagine, costs under $5 and once you start you will be wondering why you haven't been doing it all along. All you need is a pound of organic, unsalted butter.
Start with 1 lb of organic, unsalted butter. I usually get mine at Trader Joe’s as it is affordable.
Place butter in a saucepan and put on your stove over medium heat. Once the butter is completely melted, lower the heat to medium-low
As the butter simmers, the fat solids will rise to the top (some will also fall to the bottom). The process of separation takes anywhere from 20-40 minutes. You will know when it is done when you use a spoon to scoop some of the solids off the tops and the liquid underneath is a clear golden color.
This is what the milk solids will look like when the ghee is done. Remove from heat. To make the straining easier, you may choose to spoon the milk solids off the top and discard.
Place a piece of cheesecloth that has been folded over several times over a glass jar and slowly pour the ghee into the jar. Keep an eye to make sure that no milk solids are falling through (if so, you just need to do a second strain.)
You now have your very own, homemade ghee. If you want the ghee to be super creamy (like fourth and heart), put it in the freezer overnight and take it out in the morning. If you want a more traditional ghee texture, leave it on your counter. Store at room temperature.
IF YOU DON'T WANT TO MAKE YOUR OWN
90% of the time I make my own ghee, but there are those weeks when I just don't have time or I wanted to get some fun flavors to add to my dishes. When those times arise, I reach for Ahara Rasa Ghee or Fourth and Heart . Ahara Rasa is a local Portland company that is both organic and grass fed. I love them as they have fun flavors like garlic & lemon, chai spice and vanilla. Fourth and Heart, though not organic has a delicious creamy texture (you get that by putting your ghee in the freezer while it is still hot) and is made from New Zealand dairy (they have different standards then the US).
Whether you choose to make your own ghee or buy it form the store, it is a great fat to add to your diet.