Accompanying recipe: Homemade Ghee
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.
And isn’t it wonderful 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,