How To Make Ghee (and Why You Should Do So)
12-16 oz |30-45 minutes
1 lb cultured butter (unsalted)
Take the 1 lb of cultured butter (unsalted) and open the packaging.
Remove the butter sticks from their wrapping and place them in a small sized cooking pot.
Place the cooking pot on a stove top (gas or electric) and warm on a medium heat. Let them melt. Be watchful of the melted butter at this stage, mindfully making sure that the boiling does not become excessive with splattering occurring. The bubbles should seem somewhat small and under control. If you develop what looks to be a volcanic pot of butter, you have applied too much heat and need to turn the heat down, or risk burning your milk solids (see next for more about topic). If the ghee starts to have a roasted or smell like burnt toast, you are definitely start to burn the milk solids, so back that heat down to low or beyond!
A) Let the melted butter to sit on a low-medium heat, allowing the melted butter to boil off the water which it naturally contains. You may notice the appearance of clumps of particulate matter at the bottom of the pot. Those particles are milk solids (proteins) that are heavier than the milk fats. They are what cause butter to burn at a relatively low cooking temperature, and their removal will make the ghee able to handle higher cooking temperatures without burning.
B) Occasionally, using a metal or wooden spoon, scoop the foam layer (full of hydrophilic compounds) off of the surface of the melted butter. Put to the side to discard the “scoopings” later.
(this is what the scooping would look like; ie, all of the white foam from the surface of the melted butter)
A) After about 25-40 minutes later (depending on whether you have a more responsive gas stove or a less responsive electric stove), the melted butter should become clear in appearance with an absence of abundant foam on top. Make sure you have removed as much of the foam as possible, being careful not to excessively remove liquid butter/fresh ghee with the scoops.
The melted butter should no longer boil rapidly but have more of a gentle appearance of hot oil rolling due to the heat. No evidence of escaping water vapors should be seen (no steam), so as to be sure that the water has all be evaporated off.
Using a cheese cloth and a strainer held over a new vessel (say a measuring cup), transfer the melted butter/fresh ghee into the new vessel, being careful not to allow solids from the bottom of the pot to follow into the strainer, if possible. Those solids, again, are the milk proteins that are heavier than the milk fats and sunk to the bottom of the pan. These need to be left in the pan so as to be discarded.
Take a mental note of your yield of ghee. Below, you can see that I got 13 ounces of ghee from 1 lb of butter, which seems fairly good, given that the pound of butter cost me $5 and 12 ounces of ghee can cost up to $8-$10. I literally saved money through making ghee myself!
Pour the ghee into jars for storage
A) Cover the ghee in the jars with properly fitting lids. The ghee does not need to be refrigerated as it is self-stable (given that the water was fully boiled off, bacteria should not be able to grow).
Expect that the ghee will become opaque (cloudy in appearance) after it has cooled to room temperature. This is nothing to be alarmed about and is just the healthy fats of the ghee changing their configuration as they are able to stack upon each other at room temperature.
Enjoy your ghee!
I would not recommend eating the foam on top of the ghee. It just doesn’t have much appeal to me, personally, and it is mostly sugars that rose to the top as the water evaporated out of the liquid butter/fresh ghee. You can try a little, if you like, but I personally discard it.
BTW, I use the term liquid butter/fresh ghee in this procedure. Technically, the liquid butter becomes ghee when both the foam layer has been removed and the milk solids (at the bottom of the pot) have been separated through the pouring process. That clear golden liquid is the real deal ghee!
I would not recommend eating the milk solids from the bottom of the pot either. Yes, they can be very tasty, but I find them to be very heating (especially if you use salted butter by accident!) and I’m skeptical of their healthy qualities as they often become a little bit burnt or at least heavily oxidized through the cooking process. Try a few little pieces, if you like, and then discard!
Ghee is great to use as a cooking oil, whether it be in place of olive oil, spread on toast, or even placed in tea (similar to Tibetan Butter Tea!)
Ghee has a higher burning point than olive oil and so it is very versatile for cooking, especially for sautéing spice powders and browning root spices like onions.
Ghee has a sweet taste overall and is good for conditions of emaciation. It is naturally tonifying (building) to the system, but not excessively. Ayurveda classifies ghee as possessing the properties of: soft, smooth, subtle, cold, sweet, heavy, and unctuous. It has a special “prabhāva” or effect of entering the seven tissues of the Ayurvedic model of the human body. These properties, especially the subtle property, makes ghee an excellent carrier vehicle (“anupan”) for herbal medicines. For this reason, ghee is a key ingredient in classical Ayurvedic herbal formulas, such as the legendary chayawanprash. Gugguls are also prepared using ghee. (Pole, 2006)
Furthermore, ghee is said to increase the reproductive tissue, which can lead to a build-up of ojas, which is the immune force and the vital “juice” of the body. (Pole, 2006)
Ayurveda states that ghee is a digestion improver as it kindles “agni” (the “digestive fire”, ie the digestive processes). (KP Khalsa, 2016) Ghee also calms Pitta (the fire and water element constitutional type), reduces Vāta (the ether and air constitional type), is rejuvenating, benefits the eyes, clears poisons, bestows lustre, prolongs life, increases intelligence, strengthens the brain and nervous system and descends apāna vāyu (the eliminative force in the body, akin to the peristalsis of the bowel). (Pole, 2006)
Ghee is not recommended if your doctor has advised you to avoid it, if you have significant toxin load (determined by your Ayurvedic practitioner or “vaidya”), or if you are severely allergic to dairy products (many people with dairy allergies are able to handle ghee, according to anecdotal responses).
Ghee may be too warming for some constitutional types in very warm weather, when for example, a loudly Pitta constitutional type may do better with coconut oil (more cooling) on a blazing hot summer day – thus, it is important to know your constitutional type – ask your Ayurvedic practitioner to find out more (know thyself!)!
Khalsa, Karta Purkh (KP). (2016). Notes from Preventive Ayurveda, and other Masters in Science of Ayurvedic Sciences courses at Bastyr University.
Pole, Sebastian. (2006). Ayurvedic Medicine: The Principles of Traditional Practice. Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier.
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