What Is Ghee?
And how to make ghee at home.
What Is Ghee?
Ghee is a clarified butter that has long been staple in Indian cooking, where it originated because the heat spoils conventional butter. Clarifying it – or removing the milk solids – prolongs its unrefrigerated life from a couple weeks to many months. Nowadays, it’s a preferred fat among Paleo diet devotees and it’s widely lauded for its high smoke point that’s great for searing or frying while adding lovely butter flavor. It’s available jarred at many supermarkets, or you can make it yourself. Read on for more information.
What Is Ghee Made Of?
To make ghee, you take butter (unsalted, grass-fed butter is recommended) and slowly melt it so that the milk solids sink to the bottom and the golden liquid butterfat floats on top. Then you simmer it to get rid it of the moisture (or water) and until the milk solids start to turn golden brown. (Be careful not to let it burn.) This light browning gives the clarified butter “a nutty, caramellike flavor and aroma,” according to the Food Lover’s Companion.
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
8 ounces (2 sticks) butter
In a heavy skillet, over medium to medium low heat, heat butter until completely melted. Watch as butter boils, first with large bubbles and white milk solids floating on the surface, then with only a fine white foam filling entire surface. Stir occasionally. Soon small patches of golden brown will appear on the surface, and overall color of butter will change from yellow to golden. Push aside foam periodically to check color of sediment. When sediment turns light brown, remove from heat. Decant into a jar with a tight lid. Warm, if desired, for serving over rice.
Butter vs. Ghee
Ghee is stronger in color and flavor than regular clarified butter, and it also has a longer shelf life (it can last up to six months in the fridge or a year in the freezer) and a higher smoke point (nearly 375 degrees F), which makes it especially useful for sauteing and frying foods.
What Is Ghee Used For?
Ghee is commonly used as an oil for deep frying, such as in this Keto Breaded Chicken Cutlets recipe, because it imparts delicious buttery flavor but won’t burn until you heat it to extremely hot temperatures (above 450 degrees F). A good rule of thumb? You can replace vegetable oil or coconut oil with ghee in frying, baking or cooking recipes. It’s used in Indian dishes, such as Rasam and Ghee Rice, Naan, Aloo Roti, Chakkarai Pongal and The Best Chicken Tikka Masala. You can brush a skillet with ghee before searing anything, such as steak, or you can melt it and drizzle it over bread, popcorn or snack mix like O.M.Ghee Snack Mix.
Benefits of Ghee
Ayurveda, an ancient Indian approach of holistically healing the body with food and herbs, incorporates ghee as a sacred ingredient. Beyond its religious importance, ghee is thought to speed up metabolism or decrease inflammation, but according to Toby Amidor, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., there is not enough scientific studies to show this. “Ghee has been blamed for heart disease in Asian Indians populations because of the high amounts of artery clogging saturated fat,” Amidor explains.” It’s totally okay to eat it, but simply eat it in moderation. The 2021 dietary guidelines from The American Heart Association recommend no more than 5% to 6% of your total calories come from saturated fat. For perspective, a tablespoon of ghee has 10 grams of saturated fat.
Is Ghee Vegan?
Ghee is not vegan, as it’s made from butter, which is an animal product. What about ghee and lactose intolerance? “Ghee is derived from butter, a dairy product, and the protein that causes allergies can still be found in ghee. If you’re allergic to dairy, you should avoid eating ghee,” says Amidor. “If you have lactose intolerance, both butter and ghee has minimal lactose,” Amidor says. One tablespoon of butter has 0.01 grams of lactose, which is minimal considering studies have found that those with lactose intolerance can tolerate up to 12 grams of lactose in one sitting.
How to Store Ghee
Ghee is shelf stable. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to one month.