Making Ghee


Ghee is a wonderful food. It is basically butter that has been melted, the moisture evaporated, and the milk solids browned in the fat and strained out. This leaves pure butter fat or oil. It is the pure “good stuff” in butter. All of those great properties in butter are found in the butter oil. It has a unique buttery flavor, and is used extensively in Indian cooking. It has a much higher burning point than butter does, so it works better at high heats than regular butter. You can use it in Indian cooking or add a bit to soup for a big amount of flavor. I use it with olive oil to saute veggies, and scramble eggs. I also spread it on my toast. It is very rich, so a small amount is incredibly flavorful.

I have been extremely happy with making my own ghee. I was afraid that I would react to it, like I do to all dairy products. But I have been able to tolerate it just fine now for a couple of weeks. I use it with everything.

I was following the basic instructions found in James Peterson’s book Splendid Soups. I found them slightly confusing the first time I made it by how he worded things, so I will be explaining the process in my own words. But I am indebted to his recipe. I did notice, by the way, that many of the recipes online say that it takes up to 45 minutes to make. The way I make it (based on James Peterson’s instructions) only takes about 15 minutes. I don’t know if there is a taste difference between the two, but they seem to have the same goal, removing the browned milk solids. If I can do it in 15 minutes instead of 45, I’ll do it!

The advantages of making your own? First you can choose the quality of butter you make it with. Second, like most homemade food, it will taste better. And thirdly, it is MUCH cheaper (and so I will be adding this post to Frugal Friday).

Ghee

Put 1/2 to 1 pound of butter in a medium sized pot, with a heavy bottom.


Melt on medium heat until all is melted. Continue to heat until is starts to foam. You may want to turn down heat to medium-low to low at this point. Watch to make sure that the foam doesn’t flow over the sides of your pot.

The foam will start to slowly get less and less

and less……..

When the foam has died off significantly the mild solids will start forming near the bottom of the pan. When this starts to happen you may start to get a little more foam again. To get to this point it usually takes about ten minutes.

Watch carefully at this point. The milk solids will start to brown in the butter fat. When they are golden brown (I would move some of the foam at the top to check), take off the heat immediately. It is very easy to burn at this point. The mixture should look golden brown. (On a side note, if it does get overdone, don’t despair. I overdid my first batch, but after I strained it, it was actually quite good. The reason was because it was the milk solids that burnt, not the oil.)

You can see the browned milk solids on the side of the pan after I poured out the butter fat in this photo

I lay a fine sieve with cheesecloth (you can also use a coffee filter), and pour through the butter mixture. This catches all of the milk solids,


And leaves you with the pure butter fat


As it cools it will become more solid. How solid will depend on how hot it is. Here is my ghee from the fridge.

Enjoy! Ghee is supposed to last very well at room temperature, though Jame’s Peterson recommends keeping it in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Update: I just made a batch using Kerrygold butter, you can see the amazing color that produced here. I did notice that it foamed way more than Organic Valley’s pasture butter, so keep that in mind. I also did a whole pound, instead of just a half, and did note that it took a little longer than 15 minutes to do. So I think that the amount of time it takes will depend on how much butter you are working with.

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I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

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Comments

  1. Candace @ A Garden of Blessings says

    Hi Kimi,
    If I can eat butter, would there be any reason for me to do this? Do you just throw away the other part (what is it exactly)?
    Interesting.

  2. Kimi Harris says

    Good question. I don’t think that there is as much of a reason to make it if you can have regular butter, but there still are some reasons. The reason some people make it purely for culinary benefits are because of it’s unique taste, it’s higher heat burning point, and for it’s “keeping’ properties. All great reasons to make it, but at the same time, I never bothered making it when I was able to have regular butter. :-)

    • Tom says

      If you really want to know how Ghee is different than butter, look to Ayurveda. It has many unique properties which butter does not have. As for making it, I was taught in India to skim off the foam (it also has different properties, and can be used). When the Ghee is getting close to “done”, the color will darken and the temperature will suddenly increase, as all the water has been boiled off. You could use a thermometer for this. When it goes to about 105-110 degrees Celsius, it is generally done. Another method is to add a teaspoon of water and the resulting mix will “crackle”.
      Making Ghee is an art. I usually do much larger quantities (5lbs), as it’s the same amount of work for large and small batches. Ghee keeps fine at room temperature. Never eat from the jar, or introduce anything wet into it, to prevent mold formation. Ghee is a wonderful food and medicine.

    • Tom says

      If you really want to know how Ghee is different than butter, look to Ayurveda. Do a search on “Ghee properties”.It has many unique properties which butter does not have. As for making it, I was taught in India to skim off the foam (it also has different properties, and can be used). When the Ghee is getting close to “done”, the color will darken and the temperature will suddenly increase, as all the water has been boiled off. You could use a thermometer for this. When it goes to about 105-110 degrees Celsius, it is generally done. Another method is to add a teaspoon of water and the resulting mix will “crackle”.
      Making Ghee is an art. I usually do much larger quantities (5lbs), as it’s the same amount of work for large and small batches. Ghee keeps fine at room temperature. Never eat from the jar, or introduce anything wet into it, to prevent mold formation. Ghee is a wonderful food and medicine.

  3. Anonymous says

    For those who are watching their saturated fats for heart-healthy and cholesterol reasons, is it OK to consume ghee as an altnernative to butter with the milk fats?

    I’ve been avoiding ghee for that reasons. I am trying to watch our intake on saturated fats to clog up our arteries.

    Thank you!

  4. Anonymous says

    My husband is also allergic to dairy, so I want to try making ghee for him, as I hate buying margarine. (he hates it too!)

    My question is: We have raw cow’s milk, which I skim off the cream to make butter. Could I make ghee using the raw CREAM, before it’s made into butter? (thus saving the steps to making butter first) Seems plausible, but I wanted to see if you’ve heard of anyone trying this. thank you, Laura

    • Arch says

      Hi, Laura
      I’m from India and we make ghee at home all the time. You’re on the right track. you don’t have to make butter for making ghee. Just boil milk and the cream that you get on top of milk can be store in the fridge. Accumulate enough, say in a week’s time, and then on the weekend just boil this on very low flame till you get a slightly pungent smell and a brown residue at the bottom of the thick-bottomed vessel you use to boil it in. You have your ghee or `ghrita’ as it is called in Sanskrit. If you make it out of cow’s milk all the better. hope this helps. cheers

    • luda says

      I grew up in the south of Russia, in the area where people depend on farming. People who live there make all kind of dairy products, and my grandma always made clarifies butter from cow milk cream. After milking the cow, she separated the milk from cream, then when the cream is 3-4 or more days old she made the clarified butter. It is very healthy and good for your immune system. By the way, people of the caucasian area of Russia live up longer than anywhere in the counry!

    • Carlene Wilson says

      Margarine is one molecule away from being plastic..and we consume this!
      I love ghee and am fixing to make some for the holidays (cooking)
      Its going to be a dairy, gluten, corn, GMO free thanksgiving here!
      Just like Gramma used to do :)

  5. says

    So glad to have found your website. :) Thanks very much for writing about everything in such detailed and NOT-overwhelming manner. I read the book NT a few years ago and it was all overwhelming at first. Too much information overload for a beginner, I guess. I found you through a link from mothering forum and I’m so glad tp have found you. I have just started venturing into reading more about NT (IT makes more sense now that I know I don’t have to do it all and start small) and WAP – though sprouts have always been a big part of our foods.

    I am allergic to milk too but can digest yogurt, kefir, cultured butter and ghee made from cultured butter. Like you, I make my own too. Homemade ghee tastes way better than storebought ones and brings back childhood memories of my mom making ghee backhome in India.

    To answer Candace’s question, Ghee is very good for the health, according to Ayurveda. Butter has milk impurities in it where as the milk impurities and milk protein are removed from ghee. (That’s the brown milk solids we filter off)..

    You can read more about health benefits of ghee in the foln. links

    http://www.ayurvedtoronto.com/ghee.htm
    http://www.usenature.com/article_ayurveda_ghee.htm
    http://www.amritaveda.com/learning/articles/ghee.asp
    http://www.window2india.com/cms/admin/article.jsp?aid=3133

  6. Cathryn says

    To Anonymous,

    Please read Gary Taubes book, “Good Calories, Bad Calories” or any other book you can find that tells the truth about saturated fats based on science, not the vested interests of those who manufacture low fat foods from cheap carbohydrate sources and use fear tactics to get people to eat non- foods instead of what our ancestors ate, namely fats, meats, vegetables and fruits.

  7. Sally-Anne says

    I was in India 3 years back and a lady of the house shared the traditional way of making Ghee (and made me do the beating into butter!).
    She took cream, beat it with a long wooden stick which had 3 points sticking out horizontally – if that makes any sense at all. This needed to be beaten for about 30 minutes until the cream turned to butter. Ice blocks were then added to the butter, to make it extra cold, and to help extract the whey. The butter was then squeezed in one’s hand to separate the liquid mixture (whey). Once this was done, the butter was placed in a ‘wok’ like pan, and boiled slowly, where the milk solids would sink to the bottom. Once there was nothing else floating on top, and, like your instruction, when the milk solids started browning, this was then removed from the heat and poured into a jar and ready for use. I asked what she did with the ‘roasted’ milk solids which was at the bottom of the pan, and she said they would normally eat it with a little sugar, as it was delicious. As for the whey, this was just consumed by a worker in the home. So, nothing went to waste there!

    Also mentioning the problem with dairy intolerant people, I am sure you are aware of that coconut oil is far more heat stable, even than that of grape seed oil. Obviously certified organic coconut oil, which is cold pressed is the one to find. I was lucky enough to find and distribute oil all the way from the Phillipines – a real pity on the footprint though. Nevertheless, I received this information from the Malaysian Palm Oil Council in 2007, after requesting information on Palm, Coconut and Grape Seed oil.
    This is there response :
    ‘Smoke point of palm oil is 220c and its stability is comparable of coconut oil.
    The smoke point of grape seed oil is 216c. However, grape seed oil is a polyunsaturated oil (78% pufa), what this means is even with the smoke point of over 200c, grape seed oil will undergo a high degree of deterioration if subjected to high temperature frying as compared to coconut or palm. Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (pufa) are rich if double bonds and they are very easily oxidised to produce undesirable compounds including free radicals’.
    But I’m sure you have this information somewhere on this site, I just don’t have the time to search for it. (I will visit sometime again, need to save you into my favourites!).
    I have pulled a couple of recipes off your site, so thank you for that. I am quite excited to them out! The lettuce soup seems like a fine idea!

  8. says

    Thanks for posting this. I’m having my daughter go GFCF and wasn’t sure if I could make my own ghee. This sounds simple enough, and it’s good to know that you don’t react to it.

  9. Lynne says

    What is the difference between clarified butter and ghee?

    My husband is a professional chef and when I mention that people are cooking butter to get ghee, he says it’s uneccessary – and that the brown color means the whey has been burnt (not separated).
    My understanding of the purpose of making ghee is to remove the whey which can be skimmed off the top of the melted butter. The other part of the butter to be separated is the water, which again, needs not be “boiled out” of it – the water, which is heavier than the oil, naturally separates and sinks to the bottom. After skimming the foamy whey off the top, simply let the clarified butter (ghee) harden and pour off the water.
    If this is a wrong understanding I would love to be corrected. The last thing I would want to consume is a burnt animal fat!

  10. marissag says

    -clarified butter is separating only the milkfats (impurities) from the butter.
    -ghee is the toasting of the milkfats and releasing of the water, which lends to a nuttier flavor and allows higher cooking temperatures.

    hope this helps.

    love the blog, kim!

  11. Amrita says

    Growing up in an indian/amreican household we always ate the butter solids in our rice. Since they are toasted they lend a lovely nutty flavor. As far as the question why would you use ghee instead of butter, it is a singular flavor that makes good indian cooking taste special. It provides an undertone of flavor that cannot be substituted.

  12. Amrita says

    Growing up in an indian/american household we always ate the butter solids in our rice. Since they are toasted they lend a lovely nutty flavor. As far as the question why would you use ghee instead of butter, it is a singular flavor that makes good indian cooking taste special. It provides an undertone of flavor that cannot be substituted.

  13. says

    Thanks for this! I do a ton of Indian cooking and I WAS buying my ghee but’s about $6 for the amount I can make from a pound of butter. I never considered that it was a health food or that people with dairy intolerance would use it. For me, it’s all about the Indian cooking…YUM, yum, yum!

  14. MP says

    We make ghee in the same fashion described above, except we lower the heat after the butter is initially melted (almost to ‘sim’) in order to control the process better – just golden brown but not burnt. Ayurveda definitely puts a lot of emphasis on the health benefits of ghee and it is heartening to know that one doesn’t have to worry about heart issues if one follows the other GAP protocol recommendations too.

  15. Brittany says

    I’m just wondering if this is more for an intolerance or a true dairy allergy? There is a chance that not all of the milk protein is separated from the butter when straining.

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