Ghee is easy to love. It’s unbelievably delicious, like ultra-rich Irish butter that’s been gently caramelized and transformed into a smooth spread. It’s also shelf-stable and has a generously high smoke-point, making it pretty much the ideal cooking oil. Oh, and did we mention its distinct flavor and deep roots in well-established Ayurvedic practices?
Ghee is clarified butter, a.k.a. butter that has been simmered and strained to remove all water. In France, clarified butter has uncooked milk solids, yielding a product with a very clean, sweet flavor. In comparison, ghee is cooked over low heat until the milk solids have a chance to start to brown lightly, creating a slightly nutty, caramelized vibe. It is shelf-stable, with a high smoke point and deeply nutty flavor. Ghee has played a key role in Ayurveda for centuries, where it’s prized for its anti-inflammatory, digestive, and therapeutic properties. It even appears in the Vedic myth of creation, when the deity Prajapati created ghee from nothingness and poured it into the fire to form his offspring.
Why we love it:
Clarifying butter by removing water creates a higher smoke point—about 465º F compared to butter’s 350º F. The clarifying process also removes casein and lactose, making ghee suitable for the dairy-sensitive. The absence of water even makes ghee shelf-stable, meaning it can be stored without any refrigeration for extended periods of time. Just be sure to keep the jar away from steaming stoves, food, and anything else that can introduce bacteria. (If you start to detect an off flavor, scrape off the top level, and store it in the fridge instead.)
2 Sticks of unsalted butter
1 pot (thick bottom)
Jar for storing
Heat the butter in the pot on very low heat.
Wait till the foam, fat and salt floats on top.
Immediately strain into your jar.
To make ghee at home, start by simmering a saucepan of butter until the milk solids sink, then cook over a very low heat until they turn golden brown. (A pound of butter needs at least 45 minutes, and bigger batches need even longer.)
Butter is around 20% water, so removing water through simmering creates an 80% yield. In other words, one tablespoon of butter is lost per every five tablespoons of ghee, which is why ghee can get pricey. The jarred stuff is even more expensive because of the labor that goes into making it!
Skim off rising foam, then strain the remaining liquid through a fine mesh strainer until only the browned solids remain. You should be left with a golden-hued liquid: ghee.
Ghee cooks without much splatter or burning, making it ideal for high-heat cooking. Rub down a batch of vegetables before roasting, use a dollop to sautée garlic and ginger . Ghee can be used like any other cooking fat, but using it as a finishing oil really allows that rich flavor to come through.
Addiction warning: Ghee’s unmistakable taste is hard to quit in parsi fried eggs.