Like any clarified butter, ghee is composed almost entirely of fat. However, as I have discussed before, fats are essential to life and help the body assimilate nutrients. Ghee contains the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
Another nutritional benefit of ghee is that it helps aid in digestion. It has been used in Indian medicinal practice to help with ulcers, constipation, and the promotion of healthy eyes and skin.
It’s also known that in the Indian culture, many mothers give their children a tablespoon of ghee a day to keep them healthy. A tradition I may start in my own home.
Because ghee has such a high ‘smoke point’ of around 375F it is also a very useful oil to cook with. The smoke point determines when an oil actually starts to burn and generate oxidisation. As it has a very low oxidisation rate ghee stays fresh and shelf stable for a long time. Another benefit of using ghee is that the heating procedure removes the lactose content making it a suitable replacement of butter for those that are lactose intolerant.
The process of making ghee is quite easy! I learned how to make ghee from Jennifer McLagan’s book, Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, with Recipes.
Ghee is made by slowly cooking butter on the stove top until the it separates into 3 parts. The water which is boiled off, the butter, and the milk solids which are left on the bottom of the pan to brown. It’s these browned milk solids that infuse the ghee with their characteristic nutty flavor. According to Jennifer McLagan, the browning of the milk solids creates antioxidants that help delay rancidity.
I have seen many Indian blogs where they add spices or herbs to the cooking butter to impart flavor. I’ve seen mint and curry leaves. Something I’ll definitely try in the future.
As easy as this was to make, I encourage you to give it a try. I used farm fresh butter from a local farmer and the taste was unbelievable. I’ve been using it on rice, toast, vegetables, fried eggs, and have even found myself eating it plain. It’s really that good!
Recipe by Jennifer McLagan
- 1 cup / 1/2 pound unsalted butter
- Cut the butter into small pieces and place them in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat. Once the butter has melted, increase the heat just until the butter simmers. As the butter simmers, a layer of white foam wil form on the top and the butter will bubble and spit as the water boils off.
After about 10 minutes the spitting and bubbling will stop.
- Now the milk solids on the bottom of the pan will begin to color. Watch the butter carefully at this point, using a spoon to push aside the foam to check the color of the milk solids. When they turn brown and you smell a sweet, nutty aroma, remove the pan from the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes, allowing the flavor of the browned milk solids to infuse the ghee.
- Carefully strain the ghee through a fine-mesh sieve lined with a double layer of cheesecloth into a clean glass jar, leaving the browned milk solids behind.
When cool, cover the jar and keep the ghee refrigerated for up to 6 months. It can also be frozen.
I have seen other recipes where it’s okay to keep the ghee at room temperature for up to 2 months. It’s up to you. Also the milk solids left over from making ghee taste great! Save them to add to rice or vegetable dishes.