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Ghee (Clarified Butter)

Ghee, or pure butterfat, looks like liquid gold and is the most soothing and delicious ingredient imaginable. I lavish ghee in sautéed and baked goods as it enriches the flavors of both sweet and savory foods. I’ll detail why its such a healing food below and here’s the Homemade Ghee Recipe link so that you can make your own.

It is amazing how quality foods that are especially delicious are also superior medicinal foods. This premier Indian Ayurvedic ingredient contains butyric acid, a fatty acid with antiviral and anti-cancer properties. Ghee aids digestion and nutrient assimilation. Other culinary fats (including animal fats or the oil from any fruit, seed, nut or grain) are heavy, slow down digestion and may challenge the liver.

In Ayurvedic literature ghee is acclaimed for supporting self-awareness and intelligence and promoting a clear complexion and voice. Additionally, people allergic to milk protein can generally consume ghee.

Quality fats, energetically speaking, lend a sense of ease, security and of being grounded. So people who tend to be speedy and ungrounded especially appreciate the medicinal properties of soothing ghee.

Butter contains fat, two percent protein, 18 percent water and traces of salts. Have you noticed that when you sauté with butter some specks precipitate to the bottom? They are proteins that, even when sautéing at low heat, burn and then both look and taste ugly. Ghee is butter with everything removed but the fat and it has a lengthy shelf life.

Commercial ghee is made using a centrifugal separator. At home, butter is cooked until the water evaporates and then the proteins and salts are strained out. Clarified butter, renowned in both French and South American cuisine, is similar to ghee; however it is cooked a shorter time. Thus, not all of the water and solids are removed, making it less medicinal and flavorful and giving it a shorter shelf life.

For baking at temperatures above 240 degrees Fahrenheit, ghee is one of the few unrefined fats or oils that withstands higher temperatures and is therefore healthful. The other choices are butter, animal fats, coconut and palm oil. (See Fat & Oil Guide.)

If you have a cholesterol problem, then use ghee and butter in moderation. Otherwise, ghee and butter actually protect against arteriosclerosis as long as the overall diet is healthy. Consumption of refined, processed carbohydrates and fats are primary triggers of heart disease. Additionally, butter and ghee are rich sources of vitamin A and also contain vitamin D.

Organic ghee is available in natural foods stores, but I hope you’ll make your own. It’s easy to prepare, more economical and will be much more delicious. Additionally, making ghee at home enables you to season it with spices that enhance its flavor and medicinal properties.

Note: It is important to make ghee from cultured, unsalted, organic butter. Cultured butter means that the cream sat in a cool place for a day prior to being churned into butter. Our butter-churning grandmothers knew that cultured milk makes a superior-tasting and easier to digest butter. A taste test of cultured versus uncultured butter is telling, as is a taste test of ghee made from both.

Unsalted (sweet) butter has a more delicate flavor and a shorter life than salted butter. Without salt to aid preservation, the manufacturer must use fresher cream—and the difference is a better-tasting butter. Again, a taste comparison of salted and unsalted butter or ghee will make you a believer.

I hope you can favor organic butter and ghee. Because toxic chemical residues concentrate more highly in fats and oils (than in carbohydrates or protein) it’s prudent to use only organic fats and oils. Currently, the one nationally available organic, cultured, unsalted butter is produced by Organic Valley.

I’ll end with a story that my friend Barbara tells. She is an excellent whole foods cook who recently discovered ghee. Barbara reported that, prior to ghee, her husband “…would politely sample my food, spend a few minutes forking it around the plate and then open a can of soup. Then, I started using ghee and overnight he developed a hearty appetite for everything I cook.”

May you be well nourished,

Rebecca Wood


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14 comments to Ghee (Clarified Butter)

  • Thank you so much for this. The Digital Panacea is already a big fan of ghee! I shared your post on the blog: http://www.thedigitalpanacea.com/ghee-ayurvedic-liquid-gold/

  • angel

    I’m currently reading the China Study about the definitive association between cancer and animal products. I was also advised by a Nepali heart surgeon against eating ghee due to an increased risk of heart disease. I am curious where you get the information that ghee is beneficial for health – I’d really appreciate some links to good research, as I love ghee and want to keep using it. However, I’m afraid of the long term consequences, with a family history of breast and colon cancer. Thanks in advance!

    • First of all, google “China Study Criticism” to see the 100 thousand plus reasons why its bogus. His numbers look good but it was all an exercise on paper, there was absolutely no investigation of people’s actual diets, they merely filled out a one-time form.

      Regarding ghee there might not be a scientific study of it as food studies are industry funded and ghee is not a big enough seller to “merit” such attention. That it is a prized and treasured ingredient of Ayurvedic medicine speaks volumes to me. Secondly how I feel when using it substantiates its venerable tradition.

  • […] to bring clarity to the mind and balance to the body. Rebecca Wood has a wonderful article on ghee here. And for even more on its uses and benefits, see […]

  • Thanks for this lovely post.

    I recently began making ghee at home and, in the course of my research, found a video on YouTube, subtitled from whichever language Indian cook Nisha Madhulika speaks. She demonstrates that by stirring the butter as it clarifies, the milk proteins form larger clumps, making them easier to gather. This substance may be used as an ingredient in certain Indian desserts. Waste not, want not! Of course, for those of us who are lactose intolerant, ghee and perhaps cultured dairy are the safer bets.

    Thank you for all of your work on this site! I’m new here and enjoying it.

    • THank you! An excellent tip.
      Unfortunately many people who are allergic to dairy products cannot tollerate ghee.

      • Molly

        Hello!

        This statement is FALSE if I may humbly say so. I feel the need to clarify the truth because your excellent article may influence more than one person! My son has severe dairy protein allergies – causes slow and steady very-deep-set mucous production that culminates in severe asthma. I have taken him off of all milk products. After 6 months of dairy free diet, I introduced goat milk (as the goat milk casein is slightly different from cow’s milk) and he couldn’t tolerate that as well. But I feed him good, high quality, homemade ghee, made from grassfed butter everyday!!!! Not only can he take it, but as a “superfood” it has practically healed his gut. Please read more about the super powers of ghee in the ayurvedic context. My son was “kaphic” while my other children had other body types. But all 3 of them could not only ‘safely’ consume it, but it practically brought them out of chronic conditions in our new eye-opening journey. (another kid with severe eczema)
        (Besides dairy, my son is also allergic to eggs, chicken, fish, shell fish, soy, peanuts, etc.. so this gives you an idea of how sensitive or inflammed his gut is/was!)
        But here is the KEY: the ghee has to be completely clarified! There was just one time I found out the hard way, that I did not keep the ghee on the stove long enough (about the point tiny bubbles start coming up). How did I know? One, my son had consistent mucous production, even if not huge, enough to make me think. Two, when I used that ghee to start a shallow fry in a pan, I could see tiny dark dustlike particles settle at the bottom coming out no where (because the ghee was strained as I always do) so I realized some of the proteins were left behind. I brought the whole thing back to cooking and removed the left over specks of protein.
        There are a lot of youtube videos of ghee making. Some simply will not assure all the solids removal. But the only way that can assure all protein removal is the slow and steady way of 1) stirring 2) removing the scum continuously 3) and keep it on the stove on low enough heat until you see those tiny bubbles come up 4) the proteins and sugar on the bottom just start to brown imparting it the amazing flavor 5) straining 6) saving the “scum” for the dairy tolerant person in the family because it tastes AMAZING just slathered on toast or mixed into pancake batter!!
        Last but not the least I make large batches with 10 8 oz packs of butter and it takes me approx 1.5 hrs – 2hrs to make it! FYI, born and raised Indian, naturalized American is your’s truly. Thanks for the EXCELLENT article.

      • Harmeet

        Ghee is made from butter and can be called a milk product but it can be consumed by those who have dairy intolerance, since ghee doesn’t contain casein a type of milk protein and lactose which some people find difficult to digest.

        • You’re correct that casein and lactose are lacking in ghee. And so, in theory, people who are intolerant of casein and lactose should be able to consume ghee. While this is true for some people; it is not the case for others. My guess is that for people who have developed an immunological reaction to dairy, their immune system also reacts to butter fat (ghee).

  • Louise

    I am about to make my cultured butter to then make ghee. Can I use a bit of my homemade kefir as a starter to culture the cream overnight?

  • Swati

    I am on my first expedition of making ghee from cultured butter.
    I made the butter at home using organic cream and yogurt.. Let it ferment overnight and then cooled and churned it.
    It was LOT Of work given the ease of buying ready butter and churning.. but this is so worth it.. I am glad that many non indians are recognizing the goodness of ghee.. I normally consume a good 6 spoons a day with my meals.. and I can tell you it is great for the body.. I do excercise and it hashelped reduse my carb cravings.. I am generally happier and more satisfied!

  • Ro Redd

    Hello, I am from India. I was surprised the other day to realize that very few people even in India use ghee for cooking (as it is expensive), and so I started using it for a week now. Already, my gastritis has disappeared and my appetite has become healthy. Indeed, ghee is superior to other oils. So long as you can find unadulterated ghee, go for it.

  • Elisa

    Please send me the recipe. Thank you.

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