Ghee: It’s a staple of classic Indian cooking and in the world of Paleo dieting. But what is ghee? Whether you’re concerned about the nutritional value of traditional butter or are just looking to add a bit of variety to your favorite recipes, ghee should definitely be on your radar. It’s smooth, delicious, and easy to prepare at home. You may even be able to prepare it using the butter that’s already in your refrigerator. But first, we need to clarify what this ingredient is.
In essence, Ghee is a form of clarified butter. Its origins can be traced back to India, and it’s still commonly used in Indian cuisine. If you’ve never had clarified butter, consider giving it a try. Clarified butter is unsalted butter that’s heated just enough for the milk solids to separate from the butter. The foam is then removed, leaving you with just the liquid. By eliminating the milk solids, you’re left with a butter that has a much higher smoking point and is better suited for high cooking temperatures. In fact, ghee can withstand temperatures up to 375°F. Now that you understand a bit about clarified butter, let’s look at what makes ghee unique.
Ghee Versus Clarified Butter
Like traditional clarified butter, ghee is heated to allow the milk solids to separate. It’s great for panfrying and lasts much longer than regular butter. Believe it or not, ghee can be refrigerated for a full six months.
In order to make ghee as opposed to typical clarified butter, an extra step is required. After the milk solids have separated, the butter must be simmered, thus removing all moisture and giving the butter a slightly brown color. Ghee also tastes much better than clarified butter. Whereas clarified butter is known for having somewhat of a bland taste, ghee has a sweet, nutty, caramel flavor. Best of all, ghee can be used just like regular butter.
The Benefits of Ghee
Since the milk solids are removed from the ghee, it is usually suitable for people who are lactose intolerant. Ghee doesn’t contain any lactose or casein, so there’s no cause for alarm. Just be aware that ghee is still a dairy product, so people with a dairy allergy will want to steer clear.
Although ghee consists largely of saturated fat, it’s not as unhealthy as you might think. This type of butter is actually rich in medium-chain triglycerides (aka fatty acids), which have been associated with certain health benefits. For example, some studies indicate that medium-chain fatty acids may help with weight loss. Also, many fitness enthusiasts and bodybuilders claim that the fatty acids help with performance, though there isn’t much conclusive research to back it up.
Ghee also contains butyric acid—a short-chain acid that has been shown to promote gut health. For people who struggle with irritable bowel syndrome, ghee may serve as an excellent dietary addition. In addition, ghee is loaded with fat-soluble vitamins A, E, and K.
Making ghee is remarkably easy. Just get some unsalted butter (grass-fed is best).
Place the unsalted butter in a saucepan over medium heat. As it melts, the butter will separate.
Stir continually until the unsalted butter starts to simmer, then switch to medium-low heat. Let simmer for a few more minutes. If milk solids curdle and attach to the side of the pan, scrape them so they sink.
Once the butter starts to foam, turn off the heat and wait one minute.
Strain the butter by pouring it into a large bowl that’s covered with a mesh sieve. The milk solids will collect on the sieve.
Collect your ghee in a glass jar and set at room temperature for a day. Enjoy!
If you’re looking for some ideal recipes to incorporate ghee, try making some delicious mashed potatoes with the ingredient. Ghee also works beautifully in an Ayurvedic mung bean lentil soup or in a Paleo breakfast casserole with spinach, eggs, and hashbrowns. Trust us—these dishes are so good that you may never go back to regular butter ever again.