Author: Ali Fifer
Ghee is proving to be a new staple in the health food scene. Have you noticed the growing number of brands producing ghee that are popping up next to your butter selections in the grocery store? Over the last 6 years, the demand for ghee has steadily climbed with increasing popularity in Bulletproof Coffee and Paleo diets. But what is ghee? And why is it more expensive than butter? Let’s take a look at what exactly ghee is, the benefits of including it in your diet, and how you can make your own ghee in your kitchen.
Simply put, ghee is pure butterfat. When butter is simmered for a period of time, the proteins (casein & whey) sink to the bottom of the saucepan while the milk solids (containing impurities and lactose) float to the top in a froth. The frothy top-layer is scooped off, and the proteins stick to the bottom leaving this middle layer of beautifully gold and fragrant butterfat.
Now I can guess what about 75% of you are thinking: “Isn’t butter bad for you? And isn’t fat bad for you? So BUTTERFAT definitely has to be bad for you, right?!?” This is incorrect. We have been misguided for decades about fats. We need HEALTHY fats in our diet to keep our systems healthy. Ghee is one of those high-quality, healthy fats.
Ghee has been used for thousands of years in traditional Hindu religious ceremonies. Traditional Ayurvedic medicine used ghee for detoxification and cleansing. It continues as a staple in Indian cuisine and has now made its way to our Western world’s health food markets.
Benefits of Ghee:
The lactose is contained in the milk solids that are scooped off the top and discarded in the production process. This means people who usually have issues with lactose can typically tolerate ghee. (Consult with your physician before experimenting with this if you are definitely lactose-intolerant!)
It contains all the fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K
It contains conjugated linoleic fatty acids (CLA) – this helps bring down inflammation and regulate cholesterol. **Must be from an organic, grass-fed cow!
It contains butyric acid – a short chain fatty acid that is easily used for energy and helps nourish cells of the intestines. This also helps keep gut bacteria happy.
It is a very stable oil – it will not turn rancid with heat and does not need to be refrigerated (if made properly).
*A good rule of thumb: use solid fats to cook (ghee, butter, coconut oil), and use liquid fats cold or as dips & dressings (olive oil).
It contains a healthy omega profile
Some even use it topically to treat burns and rashes or moisturize
Adds a potent and rich flavor to any dish
How do I make my own Ghee?
Start off by gathering your ingredients and tools:
1 lb organic, grass-fed, unsalted butter
spoon to skim frothy top-layer
cheese cloth or coffee filter
pint-sized glass jar with a lid
1. Place all the butter in the sauce pan and heat on low to melt the butter. It is important that you do not rush this step – let it melt slowly.
2. After several minutes, the butter will start to bubble softly. Eventually the bubbling will stop or slow. Use a spoon to lightly scoop and discard the frothy milk solids layering the top. Then continue to simmer on low heat.
3. It may or may not bubble and froth for a second time. Continue to scoop and discard any new froth that forms. You should be able to see the milk proteins on the bottom of the pan. When it is ready, the proteins will start to look golden, but not burnt. The longer you allow the butter to simmer, the more fragrant and flavorful it will be. Simmer at least 30 minutes and up to an hour. (I tend to let mine go closer to an hour).
4. When it is fragrant and golden in color, remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
5. Line your cheese cloth or coffee filter in the mesh strainer and place over the pint-sized glass jar. (You could also filter into a measuring glass with a spout then pour the ghee into the mason jar if that’s less messy for you.)
6. The result should be beautifully clear and golden liquid ghee. As it solidifies at room temperature, it will turn opaque. Store with a lid in a cabinet or in the fridge and enjoy!
How can I use my ghee?
Ghee is a great substitute for butter. You can bake, sauté, or top anything with it. Put a teaspoon in your coffee for slight nutty/creaminess. Mix some in your rice or quinoa as it cooks. Top your steamed broccoli with a teaspoon. Get creative! The options are endless.
*If you see “vegetable ghee”, do not be tempted by its lower cost. It uses partially hydrogenated vegetable oil instead of pure butter and will consist of trans fats!
*Mix it up by adding spices or herbs – like cinnamon, garlic or rosemary!
*Always use organic, unsalted, grass-fed butter when making your own ghee at home.