Ghee, also known as clarified butter, is a staple food item of India, used extensively in Ayurveda, India’s ancient natural healing system. It is considered a vital food and is highly respected for its medicinal and rejuvenating properties. It is the most healthful butter one can eat, especially if made from a good quality organic butter.
Only local raw butter or cream (used to make butter) from grass-fed cows can compete with ghee. If you can locate these raw treasures, then do not hesitate to keep them raw and enjoy! When making ghee these raw sources are your best possible ingredients.
In general, butter is not recommended unless it’s local and raw or clarified (ghee). If you do not have access to a raw local dairy, then clarifying butter is definitely your best option as it transforms typically “unhealthy” butter into one that is healthy. Quality butter is a must when making ghee–unsalted organic butter at a minimum is recommended. Remember, always unsalted.
Benefits of Ghee
- Aids digestion by increasing digestive fire (called agni in Ayurveda)
- Alleviates colitis and peptic ulcers
- It is a yogavahi—a catalytic agent that carries the medicinal properties of herbs into the seven dhatus or tissues of the body. Therefore, it is great for cooking with spices and herbs as it carries their healing properties deep into the tissues. It is a great base for use in healing salves, ointments, and is commonly used as massage oil in Ayurveda
- Moisturizes dry skin, often used on lips, face, and scalp
- Improves memory, understanding and intelligence
- Lubricates connective tissues and aids healing of wounds
- Alleviates blood disorders and aids detoxification
- Casein- and Lactose- tolerant for most people (only trace amounts, if any)
- Less mucous forming than typical butter
- Tolerates heat well-suitable for cooking, frying and sautéing, with a smoke point of 325°F – 375°F
This clarified butter recipe offers a healthy butter option by eliminating the troubles of conventionally made butter while simultaneously delivering healing benefits not inherent in typical butter. “Clarifying” butter removes milk solids (and preservatives), leaving only healthy butter fats. Only trace amounts of casein and lactose remain, therefore making it suitable for those with dairy intolerances. Test it out!
Ghee is rich in high-quality fats, vitamins A, D, E and K and does not raise cholesterol. If prepared from grass-fed cows, ghee is said to have one of the highest natural contents of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid). CLA has been linked to improving insulin resistance and potentially fighting cancer.
Ghee has a longer shelf life than butter and does not require refrigeration. It is also one of the few healthful, unrefined oils that can safely be used to high heats.
- Medium pot
- Quart-sized glass jar
- Cheese cloth
- 2 Pounds of butter – organic & unsalted (local and raw ideal)
- Place 2 pounds of butter in a medium-sized pot under medium heat.
- Keep a close eye until butter melts, then immediately turn heat down to the point where the melted butter barely boils.
- Continue to cook at this heat. Do not cover.
- The butter will begin to sputter and foam. This is normal.
- After about 12-15 minutes it will begin to settle down and smell a bit like popcorn.
- It will turn a bright golden color and white curds will form on the bottom of the pot.
*This is a crucial point. As soon as you see the curds forming it is very important that you watch vigilantly until the tanning appears.
- When the curds start to turn a slight tan color, the ghee is ready and should be removed from heat immediately or you chance burning it—it burns.
It should not take longer than 15-20 minutes to achieve a perfected ghee, depending on the pan and heat source. Generally speaking, 12-15 minutes of this time is the slow boil phase.
- Let the ghee cool until it’s just warm.
- Skim off the top foam as it has medicinal properties. It is great served on top of warm grains.
- While warm, pour the ghee through a sterile sieve or layers of cheesecloth into a clean glass jar, preferably sterile. Make sure the lid has a tight seal.
- Store on a kitchen shelf and keep lid tight when not in use. No refrigeration needed.
The medicinal properties of ghee improve with age. 1-2 tablespoons daily is ideal for most people. It can be added to any prepared food or used for cooking. Be sure to always use a dry clean spoon when ladling ghee and never allow any water to get into the jar of ghee—this error can create conditions for bad bacteria to grow and ruin your ghee.
Now it’s time for you to experience the real “better than butter.” Happy clarifying!
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*Image of “clarified butter” via Shutterstock