GHEE - why to use it & how to make it.
What is ghee? What do I do with it? What does it taste like? Well, it’s time for your questions to be answered!
Ghee is made by melting butter at a low temperature. The butter is heated, and after 45 minutes to an hour, the milk solids completely separate from the butter fat, which is the ghee. The milk solids, called whey and casein (the two types of protein found in cow milk) are skimmed off and discarded. Ghee is then used in cooking. It is a solid, saturated fat, used traditionally in India. Ghee from grass-fed butter (cows that are raised exclusively on grass or hay), is a good source of omega 3, and all of the fat soluble vitamins - A, D, E and K.
Why would I use ghee?
Ghee has a higher burn point than butter. While butter burns at a pretty low temperature (you know it has burnt when it turns brown, which can happen pretty quickly), ghee has a higher burn/smoke point of 485 degrees. Saturated fats in general have a higher burn/smoke point, and therefore are better to use in cooking or roasting (as compared with a liquid oil such as olive oil).
What is the difference between clarified butter and ghee?
Clarified butter is is the first step of making ghee. Once the butter is heated, some of the solids will rise to the top rather quickly. Clarified butter is made by skimming off just the top layer. Ghee is made when the butter cooks for longer, and the remaining solids fall to the bottom of the pan. This creates the pure butter oil, and results in a nutty, yummy flavor.
I am intolerant to lactose, whey and casein. Can I use ghee?
Very pure ghee may have trace amounts of lactose, whey and casein remaining. These three parts of the butter are what is skimmed of and discarded. If you have a sensitivity, you could try a small amount and see how you feel. If you have a severe allergy, consult with a doctor. From my experience, most people with a dairy intolerance handle ghee quite well.
What does ghee taste like and when should I use it?
True ghee has a nutty, roasty butter flavor. To me, it has a very different flavor than straight butter. I prefer butter on my sourdough bread, sweet potato, or broccoli - but I prefer ghee when sauteeing onions, roasting potatoes or when making a stir fry. Ghee is more expensive both to buy and make, so save the ghee for cooking, it’s intended use.
Yield - 2 pounds, enough to fill two wide mouth pint size mason jars
4 blocks (2 pounds), or 8 sticks, grass-fed butter
Melt butter on low-medium heat in a medium saucepan. Keep a close eye on it, and once it begins to simmer or bubble, turn down heat to low.
Let the butter cook on low for about 1 hour. The ghee is ready when all of the solids have both risen to the top and sunk to the bottom. You can tilt the pot a bit to see if the solids look like they’ve completely separated, and then you know it’s done.
Skim the solids off the top of the ghee. I have a fine mesh ladle, I use that to skim. You can also just use a large spoon. There will be solids on the bottom too, but don’t worry about those yet.
Grab your two pint size jars. Put either a tiny mesh strainer on top, or a piece of cheese cloth folded on top of itself a couple of times. Or, to be extra careful you don’t get any solids, do both.
If you’re going use within 4-6 weeks, you can keep this in a cabinet and it should stay fresh. It’s really easy to spoon out this way. (You’ll know you didn’t get all of the solids if it gets moldy) Alternatively just keep the ghee in the fridge and it will last for months.
The ghee, or butter oil, should be a beautiful yellow gold color. If it burns, it will be a bit darker brown. This isn’t bad, it just means it will have more of a deep roasty flavor. And the next time, try looking it on a bit of a lower heat.
If you don't want to make it - buy it!! Many stores sell grass-fed ghee. It costs more than making it yourself, but it's a great option.