With its high smoke point, ghee is great for frying and for using in paleo recipes. Learn how to make ghee from butter quickly and easily.
I have to admit that it wasn't until recently that I started to make my own ghee for cooking/frying. I had been frying foods in coconut oil and home rendered lard to avoid cooking with fats with low smoke points. Little did I know that ghee has an even higher smoke point than either of those fats. I had assumed that ghee was just a clarified butter that would be delicate when using in cooking, so I had dismissed it, until now…
What is ghee?
Ghee is a type of highly clarified butter that is often used in Asian foods, and used by many following the paleo diet. It can often be tolerated by people who can't otherwise tolerate dairy products. That is because while butter is made up of butterfat, milk solids, and water, when making ghee, the water and milk proteins, like lactose and casein, are removed, leaving only the fat of the butter.
Ghee vs. clarified butter
While ghee is a type of clarified butter, it isn't normally what people are referring to when talking about clarified butter, or drawn butter. Both types of clarified butter remove the water and milk proteins, leaving only the butterfat for cooking with. Ghee, though, is cooked a bit longer to allow for caramelization of the milk solids. That gives it a distinctive flavor that many people love.
Butter is lighter and creamier, but ghee has a deeper, almost nutty flavor, that a lot of people love. When simmering the butter for long enough, you end up with the deep flavor characteristic of ghee, that differentiates it from just a “plain” clarified butter.
Cooking it longer also means that you are much more likely to have removed all of the water and milk proteins, making it more shelf stable and more easily tolerated by people with lactose or casein intolerances.
Why make your own ghee?
Store bought ghee tends to be pretty expensive. Luckily, it's very easy to make ghee, meaning you can easily save yourself a lot of money by making ghee from butter yourself. Another benefit to making your own ghee is that when you make something yourself, you control the ingredients. So, you can choose organic butter, if you like, and/or butter made from pastured cows.
I love butter and don't avoid it as I don't follow a strict paleo diet, but there are many times that using ghee is preferable to butter. Not only can it be tolerated by many people with lactose and casein intolerances, but it also is better for cooking and frying. It also has a longer shelf life, both when stored in a refrigerator or at room temperature.
Watch how to make Ghee
Health Benefits of Ghee
Many people wonder what the health benefits of ghee are. One question that comes up often is whether ghee is good for you or not. There are many health benefits of ghee such as:
- The smoke point is 485 degrees F (250ºC) which lowers the risk of destroying important nutrients such as phytonutrients and makes ghee healthier to bake with. (Butter has a much lower smoke point of somewhere between 250-350ºF/120-180ºC.)
- When well filtered, ghee is free of both lactose and casein proteins making it an option for many people who are normally dairy intolerant.
- Ghee contains Butyric acid which has been known to fight off inflammation, support healthy insulin levels and provide relief for those who suffer from Crohn’s disease.
- Ghee is rich in fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, E, D, and K. A few servings of ghee daily will help you meet your Vitamin K needs that helps with blood clotting, heart health, and brain function.
- When made with butter from pastured cows, ghee is rich in CLA which can help maintain a healthy weight and help control type 2 diabetes.
Best Way to Store Ghee
Ghee has a much longer shelf life than butter, making it especially convenient for those who are constantly cooking. If you have an unopened jar of ghee, it’s best to store it in a cool, dark place and use it within approximately 9 months from the date you purchased it.
You may store opened jars of homemade or store-bought ghee in your kitchen cabinet away from light or heat for about 3 months, and if not used by then, you may store the remaining amount in your refrigerator. In the refrigerator, ghee can be kept for up to a year. That's why, when making large amounts of ghee, it's a good idea to refrigerate part of it, and only take out smaller amounts to keep out on the counter.
Please note, ghee will turn hard in the refrigerator, but it will easily turn soft again when placed on the counter to thaw before use.
Ghee for Skin
You may be surprised to find that ghee is great for your skin and hair. To prepare the ghee for using on skin, you'll want to blend the ghee with water until it forms a butter-like consistency that’s white in color. You pour off the separated water and add more fresh water, mixing it again, and pouring off the water again. This process is repeated many times, as shown in this video.
Here are some benefits of using ghee with your beauty routine for both skin and hair care:
- Ghee can relieve skin wounds such as chicken pox scars and burns.
- A natural skin moisturizer and safe for the face, you can use the prepared ghee as you would a moisturizing mask. To use it in this way, apply it to your skin and wash off 10 minutes later.
- Ghee may help reduce dark circles under the eyes when applied before bed to the under eye area.
- Warm up ghee, apply to the tips of your hair, let sit for an hour and then shampoo your hair to help with split ends.
- Ghee is full of fatty acids that can help cure winter dry skin and itch. Apply to your skin during these colder months to keep skin feeling smooth and less itchy.
How to Make Ghee
- 1 kg. butter
- Heat butter in a pan over low to medium heat.
- The butter will start to separate.
- Skim of the foamy solids that float to the top.
- As you heat and skim, the butter will further separate, and you will start to see milk solids start to fall to the bottom of the pan. Now is a good time to lower the heat and watch the butter carefully. You don't want to let the milk solids that fall to the bottom of the pan burn!
- Continue to simmer the butter until you end up with a clear, yellow liquid with golden brown milk solids at the bottom. At this point you can strain the finished ghee into the containers you want to store them in. I usually just use a stainless steel strainer, but it's a good idea to strain the mixture with cheesecloth, especially if you have an intolerance to the milk proteins.
- The transparent liquid that you obtain is your ghee. It will solidify as it cools. you can store it at room temperature for several weeks, or in the fridge for several months.
I used a kilogram of butter because I figured that once I was going to do the work, I might as well obtain a lot of ghee for my trouble.
With butter being the only ingredient, though, you can use either as little or as much as you like.
The milk solids that fall to the bottom, the ones you strain out, are crunchy and tasty. So, yes, you can eat them if you like. (I do!) 🙂