Ghee [gee] – noun – a kind of liquid butter, used especially in the cooking of India, utilizing butter made from the milk of cows then clarified by boiling.
Ghee, funny name, oh believe me I know. It’s pronounced with a “g” like gorgeous and that’s exactly what it is. I originally learned about ghee while following a lightweight backpacking online group. It’s utilized by backpackers because it is shelf-stable (no refrigeration needed) and so much more flavorful than oil for cooking. All I knew at this point was that it was Indian butter.
My friend’s son is autistic and was put on “the diet” (gluten, casein, soy & corn free – with great results I might add). We were busy looking for new and creative recipes for the family so he wasn’t singled out when I once again saw ghee references. I started looking at you tube videos and recipes online. Now I’m a very confident cook and always ready to try new things but this was different, Tyler could have ghee but not butter so if I made a mistake I could cause problems for him. I finally worked up the nerve to make a batch with the help of my former boss, a wonderful woman and dear friend from India who walked me through the process better than a you tube video ever could (thanks again Paulomi!). Once made, we passed it around and tasted it in absolute awe. It’s like butter, but so so much better. Unlike anything we’d ever tasted before.
How do you make ghee?
Truly, you boil the butter. That’s it. Then you strain it. (Seems too simple, I don’t get it..)
First you start by putting butter in a good solid bottomed pan. My daughter gave me an enamel coated Lodge cast iron Dutch oven for Christmas several years ago which is now known as my ghee pot.
Next, the butter. Well, here’s where it doesn’t matter too much because you’re removing the dairy, as well as the salt. I am in an area where I can pick up Amish butter at a great price. If you’re looking for grass-fed only, look for Kerry Gold. To my knowledge it’s the only grass-fed that’s commercially available. However, I have stocked up on butter at the grocery when it went on sale and made ghee with it and not noticed a difference in the end result.
When the butter starts to melt it will go from its normal pale yellowish white to a bright yellow and creamy. Once it comes to a simmer/gentle boil, leave it. Come back every once in a while (20 minutes or so) and stir it. I use a plastic pancake turner with a straight edge because it allows me to scrape the bottom to keep the solids from sticking. I have a wooden paddle but I noticed that it tends to absorb the salt as well as the oils. You’ll find some people will refer to ghee as clarified butter but that is incorrect. Clarified butter (or drawn butter) is made at this first stage when the butter first separates but is still that bright yellow. (Think of what they serve at Red Lobster with your crab legs). As it continues to boil it will become more and more clear and more of an amber color and all the butter. The batch I have in the picture was boiled for approximately 2 hours.
Time to strain. I have wire strainer that I set over the bowl from my Kitchen-Aid mixer (in the picture). I then took my cheesecloth and folded it in quarters and put it in the strainer. I poured the finished ghee through the cheesecloth to strain out the carbonized dairy solids. Once it all strained, I then picked up the cheesecloth by the corners (making a pouch) and kept twisting it tight to squeeze out any ghee that was left. Believe me when I say this step is worth it. Between the solids and the cheesecloth you should be able to squeeze out several ounces. As you can see by the picture, there are a lot of dairy solids that come out. This also contains the casein which is an allergen for some folks, as well as one of the offending items for autistic kids.
Here’s what’s removed from the butter when you turn it into ghee. The dairy is completely carbonized. I strained it through cheesecloth then squeezed out the excess.I started with 6 pounds of butter (on sale $2 a pound). The finished result netted me 1 quart jar and 7 eight ounce jars. This lasted us for about 12 weeks. Put the lids on and put it in the cabinet. Treat it as you would any other oil. Just so you’re aware, if your home is cool this may start to solidify and that’s okay, you haven’t done anything wrong making it.
Okay, I made it. Now what do I do with it?
The question now is what can’t you do with it? It can be used in any recipe for oil or butter. Here’s the best part IMO. Ever get a pan too hot when you’re going to cook something with butter and it burns? Not with ghee. All the parts that would burn, you’ve already removed. You can pan fry your eggs or fish, brush it on bread for a grilled cheese or as toast, drizzle it on broccoli or popcorn… you name it!. My favorite is to sauté garlic in ghee for a few minutes. It’ll taste like you roasted it in the oven for an hour! Put that in some mashed potatoes or cauliflower and you will think you’re in heaven.
There’s benefits too?
Ghee has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine and diet. It’s believed to lubricate joints, help with mental function (not unlike newly discovered properties of coconut oil), stimulate digestion and even aid in the absorption of herbs and spices from dishes for medicinal benefit.
Try it out and tell me what you think. I guarantee you’re going to keep it in the house all the time and convert your friends. Be sure to share this with them too!