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Unless otherwise noted, all recipes on this blog are free of gluten, peanuts, soy, corn, tomatoes, potatoes, shellfish, cane sugar, oranges, and yeast. Most recipes are also free of egg, dairy, and tree nuts (if used, reliable substitutions will be provided for these when possible). Check out my recipe index for a full list of recipes by category. 

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Tuesday
Jul272010

How to Make Ghee 

I've been meaning to write this post for almost 2 years. Why so long? Writing the how-to with step-by-step photos is significantly more time consuming and complicated than making ghee!  The pieces just never really came together. Finally, I remembered to grab a camera while making my most recent batch, so I set to work.

Now, without further adieu, here is the skinny on ghee and a complete set of instructions on how to make it from scratch, with photos to help you along the way.  Enjoy!

 

What is Ghee?

Also known as butter oil (or in my house, liquid gold), ghee is pure butter fat that has been separated from the milk proteins through heating.  To clarify (ba-dum-ching!), clarified butter and ghee are not the same, despite popular opinion. Ghee is clarified butter that has been cooked longer to remove all the moisture, and the milk solids are browned (caramelized) in the fat and then strained out. This gives a rich nutty taste and fragrance, with hints of caramel, and a smooth, rich, velvety texture.  It can be used 1:1 for butter, shortening, or oil in any recipe, and has a high smoking point, making it perfect for high heat sauteing or roasting. Ghee has a long shelf life, both refrigerated and at room temperature. In cold temperatures, it will become solid, and it will remain liquid at warmer temperatures.

Because dairy proteins and lactose have been removed, many dairy intolerant and allergic people are able to tolerate ghee.  It is traditionally used in Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine, and is treasured as a digestive stimulant. It can also be used topically for massage or dry skin.  

If you want to purchase pre-made ghee, Pure Indian Foods and Purity Farms are both excellent.  However, these will put a dent in your wallet - a 14 oz jar will cost you between $10 - $15.  If you want to save some major dollar, you can make the same amount of homemade ghee for the cost of a pound of good butter and a little time, and save yourself half the cost.  Okay, let's get cooking!

 good butter is the perfect place to start

Tips & Tricks

Use high quality, organic butter. I could write a whole article about why organic butter is better, but I'll spare you the lip service and send you to this article instead.  In terms of store-bought organic butter, I like Organic Valley Cultured Organic Butter and Cultured Organic Pasture Butter (the pasture butter is grass-fed), Trader Joe's Organic Butter, Hope Creamery Organic Butter (local to Minnesota), or PastureLand Organic Butter (my favorite one - local to Minnesota and grass-fed!).  I've been wanting to try Kerrygold Irish Butter for a long time, it is grass-fed, and it is supposed to be fantastic, and will be the next butter in my shopping cart.  Grass-fed butter will be higher in antioxidants, natural beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) than butter made from milk of grain-fed cows.  If you can't find it locally at co-ops or from local producers at your farmers markets, sources of grass-fed butter online include Grass-Fed Traditions and PastureLand's website.  

You could probably also use goat milk butter if you prefer to avoid cow dairy all together.  Meyenberg sells goat milk butter that is pretty awesome - it is pure white, with a rich grassy flavor, and that distinctive goaty bite. I buy it when I really want to treat myself to a fancy buttery treat, and am able to find it a the local co-ops in my area. The flavor of goat's milk ghee will be probably have more of a bite than cow's milk ghee, but I imagine it would be quite delicious. 

Make sure your pans, measuring cups, and sieves are dry and free of moisture.  Moisture will interfere with the freshness and shelf stability of the ghee.

Use low heat.  Medium or high heat leads to burned ghee, which is very sad.  Be patient. Good ghee comes to those who wait.

Watch it closely. I know what they say about a watch-pot, but you'll want to keep a close eye on that pot of ghee.  Watch how it changes and make sure that it isn't smoking or doing anything crazy, especially in your first batches.  Besides, melting butter smells nothing short of heavenly, so watching over an entire pound of it bubbling away is a  pretty nice sensory experience.

Do not stir it!  If you stir it, you will dislodge all those little dairy solids from the bottom of the pot and mix them back in. Be careful when skimming the top, and do not scrape the bottom.  When pouring the ghee out from the pan, do it slowly and gently.

If you have a Ghee Fail, try try again. A Ghee Fail is almost as sad as a sour jar of kombucha or a spoiled batch of sauerkraut.  But if it happens to you, don't be intimidated. Although the steps are simple, this is a delicate process with room for error, as with any cooking project.  I've messed up more than one batch of ghee in my day. It is easy to burn it, and other strange things can happen. Perhaps your heat was too hot, maybe you cooked it too long, maybe your butter was wacky, or your pot doesn't distribute heat evenly.  Whatever it is, just try it again, because it will probably work better the next time.  Get back on that buttery horse and ride again, friend.

 

 

How to Make Ghee

yield: about 1 3/4 cups

This process is really simple. It requires about 30-45 minutes of cooking time, but that may vary depending on the type of pot you use, how chilled your butter is, or the heat of your flame. Basically, the key is keeping the heat low and using dry pots and utensils.  Be patient, cook it slowly, and watch it closely.  Don't be intimidated if you screw up and burn it - I have burned more than one batch of ghee in my day. Just try it again and watch it more closely next time!  Use ghee in place of butter or oil in any recipes.

1 pound unsalted organic butter

saucepan
metal fine sieve
unbleached coffee filter or cheesecloth
heat-proof bowl
1 pint glass jar 

 

Cut up ghee in small chunks and place in a dry saucepan.  Turn heat over medium and let butter melt. Then reduce heat to low.  Make sure you reduce heat otherwise you risk burning your ghee.  Slowly let ghee cook undisturbed - do not cover or stir - and you will notice it going through a series of changes. 

cut the butter up in little chunks

put it in a pot and heat it up. then watch and smell that tasty butter melt

use low heat to ensure that your ghee doesn't burn. it takes longer, but is worth the patience.

meltier....

Eventually, you will notice a layer of foamy dairy solids. The foam will reduce, and will reveal the ghee below. This is a good sign.  Let it keep on sputtering away...

Gradually, it will foam a second time.  Now your ghee is done, and remove from heat. Skim off most of the thick foam.  You will notice the ghee underneath is golden, and there should be a layer of thick, darn dairy solids on the bottom of the pot.   Let cool 10-15 minutes.

mostly skimmed and ready to filter

While ghee cools, line the seive with a coffee filter or a double layer of cheesecloth, and place sieve on top of a bowl. Pour cooled ghee through lined sieve gently and slowly, working in batches. Make sure not to disturb the settled dairy solids in the bottom of the pan.  

the necessary straining supplies

look at all the residual dairy solids that the filter caught!

leftover dairy solids in the bottom of the pan

pure, golden ghee!

Then pour ghee into the jar and let cool completely before screwing on the lid. I usually lay a cloth over the top of the jar to keep out dust and any curious little bugs while it cools.  Because the dairy solids are gone and it is pure fat, ghee can be kept at room temperature without spoiling, however, I often keep mine in the fridge. Ghee will solidify in cool temperatures; melted ghee is a dark golden color, while solid ghee is a lighter yellow.  Whether in the fridge or at room temperature, make sure to keep well sealed, make sure that all moisture stays out of jar, and use clean, dry utensils to scoop it out in order to ensure freshness.

 

 

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Reader Comments (15)

Thanks for this! I've always been afraid to make my own ghee, but I'm going to try this week. Kerrygold butter is on sale, and that's reason enough :D

You wrote to make sure not to disturb the milk solids when pouring - did you just pour from the pot and hope the milk solids didn't come with it? I mean, you didn't ladle it out or anything? Do the milk solids mostly stick the bottom?

Um, also, can anything be done with those milk solids or does one throw them away?

July 27, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterArielle

ARIELLE-
Yum, on sale Kerrygold! Go for it! As for the milk solids, yes, they pretty much stick to the bottom of the pan. I just pour, but you could certainly ladle. Whatever you prefer. Just don't scrape the bottom. Some will pour off, but that is why you strain it, to remove any stray chunks. I would recommend just throwing away the dairy solids because they get all brown and crusty - although there's nothing wrong with them, really, so if you want to use them for something (I'm not sure what...) there's no reason you couldn't. :) Good luck! - Kim

This is an awesome tutorial. Thank you for sharing it with us.

I had a question for you - my naturopath told me to stop shopping from bulk bins - she's had a couple of patients get glutened that way because of cross-contamination. So I have - but am having a hard time finding certified gluten-free packaged black beans, among other things. Arrowhead Mills has many gluten-free certified legumes (like azukis, chickpeas, lentils etc) but no black beans or white beans - do you have any suggestions of brands I should seek out? Many have suggested Rancho Gordo, but I am still looking for suggestions. Thank you!!

This is a keeper, I am bookmarking this for future reference. Thanks!

July 28, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterCarolyn

so if all the milk protiens are way at the bottom, and all that you are capturing is the actual fat...
is it...
technically ...
casein free?

July 28, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranika

ANIKA-
Yes, yes it is! I hope that makes you happy :) And I hope even more that you can eat it :)

VALERIE-
Yes, I've heard similar recommendations about doing that to avoid cross-contamination, I've also heard that buying bulk can increase risk of mold and yeast exposure. but honestly, I still shop from bulk bins, because it is often so much cheaper and easier. In terms of brands, I don't know - all the ones at the top of my mind turned out to process their beans in the same plants as wheat when I looked it up!!! Humph. good luck - and let me know if you find one.

Kim, thanks so much for responding. Like you, I find bulk beans so much easier and cheaper, though I have to admit that the Arrowhead Mills packaged chickpeas and azukis I bought through amazon (using subscribe and save) cooked far quicker and were more tender and flavorful than what I was buying from the bulk bins. Since I last commented, I found out Nutsonline carries certified gluten-free white beans, and Rancho Gordo has gluten-free black beans, though I am kind of opposed to spending the money Rancho Gordo charges. I guess for those I will stick to bulk bins.

I sure enjoyed reading this , I never knew how to go about making Ghee and it is so very costly to buy , i have way more time than money so I will be putting this information to good use . Thank you :)

August 1, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKathy

Hi Ive been making ghee for a long time. The way I learned was to bring it up to a foam ,turn off the heat and let it settle, bring it back up to a second foam and watch closely! it will quickly turn all dairy to solids take it off the heat when its golden (only a minute or two after the foam starts to "break apart".) pour quickly threw coffee filters. the heat of the pan can keep cooking the Ghee.let cool and enjoy heaven. this istakes about half the time try it and see what you think. Janet

October 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJanet

Dear Kim,
I have a Punjab market near me where I can buy a 16 fl. oz jar of Swad-brand ghee for $6.99, so the cost is not prohibitive. As with natural peanut or almond butter, when one opens the jar the oils are on top and the solid butter is underneath. Here is my question, to ensure that it is lactose free, should I pour off the separated liquid on top, or is it okay to stir it in? Thanks for your help!

October 31, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenny

((hugs)) I am still.. THRILLED by this post!!!!!!!!!! Baby is casein free :( and YOU have made me so happy teaching me to DO this!!!!!!!!!! I havn't tried YET.. but ... soon :)
so far he eats earths balance soy free, casein free gluten free "buttery" spread...
but ...
I am SO a "nourishing traditions" gal.. and THIS makes my heart SING!
thanks again! :)

December 9, 2010 | Unregistered Commenteranika

I have never been able to find ghee up here in our stores. Does it have a good flavor too it (like for spreading on bread?)? Thanks for posting this... great directions... I'm looking forward to trying it!!

January 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMegan @ MAID in Alaska

JENNY- it is okay to stir in the liquid, it should still be lactose free.

ANIKA - yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! good luck with trying it.

MEGAN - the flavor is AWESOME, better than regular old butter. it is nutty and rich and totally delicious on everything. good luck!

January 4, 2011 | Registered CommenterKim @ Affairs of Living

I've kept this post in the back of my mind for a while, as when I was trying store bought ghee last year, I didn't tolerate it. Today I'm taking a leap, and followed your tutorial! Here's hoping that my gut has healed enough to tolerate it! I really really appreciate all of the time you took to write this out for us, and the pictures are so helpful. Since starting my blog in October, I have so much more of an appreciation for how long posting takes, and my gratitude for your dedication has increased tenfold! I hope this comment finds you feeling well!

March 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKris @ GLOW
Sorry, no comments/questions allowed right now.
Hi reader! My schedule as full-time grad student with two part-time jobs doesn't allow me the time to manage comments. I hope you enjoy what you find and can figure out answers to any questions you may have. xo