If you grew up in an Indian home like I did, then chances are you probably said the word “ghee” way before you spoke your own name! Ghee is that common in an Indian household.
Video: How to Make Ghee
Ghee in Indian Culture
Ghee plays a big role not just in the kitchen but in day-to-day life as well—all credits to the great properties and qualities ghee possess. Considered sacred, ghee is used in religious rituals in a traditional Hindu family.
According to Ayurveda, the traditional medicine commonly practiced in India, ghee aids digestion and offers you a clarity of mind. Because of this, Ayurvedic cooking primarily uses ghee.
What Is Ghee?
Ghee is prepared by cooking the milk solids out of butter. When butter is cooked at a low temperature, the milk solids separate and settle to the bottom of the pan, and the water evaporates.
The liquid is then strained and the result is a clarified liquid called ghee—it’s the golden goodness you see in beautiful mason jars lined on the shelves at health food stores. (By the way, ghee solidifies at low temperature—don’t be alarmed if this happens to you!)
This cooking process gives ghee a lovely nutty flavor and an aroma that cannot be missed. It has a high smoke point, which makes ghee a great fat to cook food in, and even for deep frying.
The Best Butter for Ghee
The recipe for ghee I am sharing today is not the traditional Ayurvedic recipe that an Indian grandma would make, but it is equally good and more approachable.
This recipe uses store-bought butter. I recommend using organic butter for two reasons: ghee made from organic butter just tastes way better than the one made with conventional butter. Second, with organic butter, we know it’s pure butter so the ghee will stay good for longer.
But if you do not have organic butter, you can still make ghee with the butter you typically use.
How to Store Ghee
Ghee is a pretty resilient item. You can just simply store it in a clean dry place, in a container, preferably with a lid. Even if the lid is not airtight, it doesn’t really matter. I just keep it in my pantry with the rest of the oils.
Does Ghee Go Bad?
Ghee is also much more shelf stable than butter. It can be used for up to a year as long as it has been cooked properly and all of the milk solids have been strained out. Store ghee in an airtight jar away from light and heat at room temperature for up to three months or in the refrigerator for up to a year. My mom would make big batches (still does) for the whole year or as long as they lasted!
Ghee Is Good if You’re Lactose Intolerant
Ghee is a great substitute for butter. It can often be used by people who are lactose intolerant or have dairy sensitivities because the milk solids have been removed.
Use Your Ghee for These Recipes!
- Make this Lamb Curry on the stove top, in the slow cooker or the pressure cooker!
- Ghee goes great with this Basil Chicken Coconut Curry
- Indian Chicken Biryani is a spice-infused flavor powerhouse!
How to Make Ghee
- 1 pound organic unsalted butter
Cut the butter and put it in a pan:
Cut the sticks of butter into smaller pieces (any shape or size is fine) and put them in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan set over medium-low heat.
Let the butter and heat play with each other. Just stay around to keep an eye out, but do not touch it and definitely do not stir it.
Skim the foam:
Once the butter melts and the milk solids begin to cook, it will start to sputter and a white foam will slowly rise to the surface over the course of the next 5-8 minutes.
Use a large spoon to carefully scoop the foam off the surface without touching the base of the pan, and discard the foam. This should continue for a few minutes, some 5-8 minutes after the butter melts.
Look for more foam and turn off the heat:
Once you have scooped pretty much all the foam off the melted butter, you should see an almost clear liquid with golden browned milk solids at the bottom of the pan.
About 30 seconds after this stage you will again see very faint foam forming on the surface of the ghee. It will be less dense than the previous foam—more like a thin cloud of small, clear bubbles covering the surface of the ghee. When you see this second foam form, it is time to turn the heat off. Take ghee off the heat and let it sit for 10 minutes.
Strain the ghee:
Place a fine mesh sieve layered with cheesecloth over a clean, dry mason jar. Pour the ghee through the sieve and into the jar. Let the ghee cool down completely before putting the lid on the jar.
Store in a dry place at room temperature. It is shelf stable. If you have a hot kitchen, you can keep ghee in your fridge just to keep it solidified.