I was first introduced to the idea of making my own ghee when I went to nutrition school at IHN over a decade ago. I remember my teacher talking about ghee as a great option instead of butter for those who are sensitive to dairy because the milk proteins (casein and whey) are removed in the ghee-making-process, but I'd only ever thought of ghee as something tasty I'd enjoyed when having Indian food.
Even though it seems that ghee is a trendy food, it has been around for thousands of years and usage dates back to 2000 B.C. originating somewhere in Asia and used in Ayurveda as a therapeutic food. In ancient India, ghee was the preferred cooking oil. Just like many other foods, ghee may have been created completely by accident, like many fermented foods.
Many Ayurvedic preparations are made by cooking herbs into ghee. This is a great idea! Whether it's turmeric , rosemary, oregano or dried basil -- all herbs are powerful superfoods.
The benefit of this is that the phytonutrients present in these herbs will be more readily absorbed into the body in the presence of fat (aka nutrient synergy!)
This is common sense really when you think that every cell in your entire body has a lipid (fat) layer. Therefore, eating fat with phytonutrients enhances their delivery at a cellular level.
Ghee has many health benefits and has been sadly demonized for decades due to its saturated fat content. However, consuming it moderately, as is the case when using ghee to make my Sticky Carrots or mixing it into your scrambled eggs, has well-researched health benefits.
I've also made my Rustic Galette crust with ghee and it worked just as well as butter. Be sure to check out all the uses for ghee at the bottom of this post. I personally use ghee for 4 to 5 meals out of the week. My daughter Vienna loves it too!
Ghee (especially when made from grass-fed butter) is a great source of fat soluble nutrients including vitamins A, D, E and K2. Vitamin K2, as I talk about in this video, is incredible for bone health. It helps your bones keep the calcium which is important because you don't want calcium floating around in your arteries. As I talk about in my video below, it's a rich source of butyrate which is an incredible anti-inflammatory substance for gut health and can help prevent colitis and Crohn's.
Let's get back to ghee-making! I make ghee when I find grass-fed butter on sale, but sometimes I purchase store-bought ghee too, especially when I don't feel like making it. If you're choosing between organic butter and grass-fed to make ghee, my preference is grass-fed because it's more nutrient-dense than grain-fed. The same goes for grass-fed beef when buying meat.
It's more expensive, for sure, but ideally, cows should be grazing on a pasture when there is grass available to eat, as opposed to eating 100% grains. Eating grains will produce more omega-6 fatty acids and eating more grass will produce more omega-3 fatty acids in the animal. If there is no grass-fed butter or meat available, then my second choice would always be organic.
"Ghee" and "clarified butter" are often used interchangably but there is a slight difference.
Ghee is simply cooked a little longer than clarified butter and has a richer, more intense flavour than clarified butter. You know you've got ghee when you see the little brown bits on the bottom of your pot and it has a fragrant smell and rich flavour. I talk about this more in my video so you can know what to look for when you stat making it!
Don't be intimidated making your own ghee though. If you can melt butter, and you've got patience, you can make ghee! But I totally get it, if you don't want to spend 20-30 minutes at your stove, well then just buy store-bought. There's nothing wrong with that!
Just be careful when you start making ghee because it heats up quickly and you don't want to be boiling the crap out of the butter! You'll lose more of the nutrition that way. Sure, the water from the butter will evaporate quicker, but it should only take 20-30 minutes if you're making ghee on a medium-low temperature.
Just a caution, if you are allergic or very sensitive to dairym then it's best to not eat ghee because you can't be sure that 100% of the casein and whey has been removed, even if you strain it 5 times!
Most importantly, here's the recipe!
*250g of butter, yields 1 cup of ghee. If you use more butter, you'll have more ghee!
The whole process to make ghee takes 20-30 minutes. Please read all the instructions before you begin to make the process run smoother. I recommend using a stainless steel pot so you can clearly see the bottom of your pan and can easily determine when you've got ghee because you'll see the little brown bits at the bottom.
There are many delicious ways to enjoy ghee.
How to store ghee
Ghee can be stored in the kitchen cupboard away from sunlight for up to 3 months. I typically store it in the fridge though because then it lasts up to a year. It gets harder in the fridge of course, but softens up pretty quickly. It can start to crystallize at the top, but this is normal – no need for concern. It sometimes has a grainy texture when you make it yourself – also normal, so not to worry :).
If you have any questions, please post below. Happy Ghee-making!