Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Ghee ~ Ayurvedically Healing Clarified Butter

“It is promotive of memory, intelligence, vital fire, semen, vital essence (ojas), kapha, and fat. It is curative of Vata, Pitta, fever and toxins.”Charaka (author of ancient Indian Ayurvedic text, Charaka Samhita).

Ayurveda teaches that ghee is a medicinal food that is excellent for good health when used in cooking or added to foods. It is one of the most ancient and sattvic foods known, healing to all doshas: best for Vatas, soothing for Pittas, and balancing for Kaphas in moderation. For cold, dry, stiff and airy Vata types, ghee adds heaviness and lubrication to the body in the joints and in the digestion. Ghee is cooling and soothing for the fire-based ailments of Pittas, such as fever, acidity, and inflammation. For all three doshas, ghee helps memory and is a healthy fat that is good for the liver and immune system, though Kaphas should consume it in moderation as it also helps build body mass.

(You can read more about ghee by googling “health benefits of ghee”.)

When buying ghee, or any dairy product, look for organic. All toxins like to settle in body fat, and especially mammary glands, which makes it important to choose organic animal products like milk and butter, otherwise they tend to be the most laden with impurities like pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and other drugs, and toxins found in air, water and feed.

The other day I spoke with someone who cooked magnificent, healing ayurvedic food, and she said she made her own ghee and that it’s really quite simple. I believed her so I thought I’d try it myself, using organic butter of course! Here’s how I make my own ghee in less than half an hour.


1 block organic, unsalted butter

Place the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot and melt on medium-low heat. Adjust the heat until it begins to bubble nicely, without going too hot. Foam will begin to accumulate quite a bit on the top, and the melted butter will be very opaque. Stir occasionally for 15 minutes until the foam starts to reduce and break up, and the milky butter begins to look like clear, golden oil. When there’s a bit of brown sediment beginning to form at the bottom of the pan, the ghee is ready. Be careful not to burn it during these final minutes of cooking. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, sterilize a jar and its lid in a pot of boiling water, then remove and dry with a clean towel. Gently pour the ghee into the jar through a fine metal sieve, with or without cheesecloth lining it -- you only want to get the golden liquid oil and not the sediment at the bottom of the pot. Store closed; no need to refrigerate. Use as you would butter or oil, in soups, cooked vegetables, stir into cooked rice or lentil dishes, or spread on toast and tea biscuits.


Amanda said...

can this be made with goat's milk, too?

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

Hi Amanda,

It has to be made with butter, so if you can find goat's milk butter, I'm sure it would work, though I haven't tried it or heard of goat's milk ghee. Why not try it and let us know how it goes!

Ameet Maturu said...

Hi Fran, thanks for the reminder! I've been meaning to make some ghee for some time. I find my Indian recipes come out so much better when I cook with ghee.

And thanks for the tip on sterilizing the jar. Never thought to do that!

TNL said...

i love Ghee....it changes the taste of everything for the better! I love ghee with some daal and rice. Thanks for the tip!


Anonymous said...

Nice posting. Do you know about these Samhita editions?


Anonymous said...

Hi Fran,
Thanks for sharing - always great to hear that something so tasty is good for you and easy to make! Home-made organic ghee would make a wonderful hostess gift for the holiday season too... :P

Anonymous said...

HI there, I love your blog, I just discovered it!
I was wondering if I could make this with salted butter? that's just what I have on hand.. and I don't have a whole block, just a small bit left of a 250g block, organic of course!

how long does this keep? thanks so much

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

Thanks everyone for stopping by and leaving your lovely comments!

As for salted ghee, I don't think it's usually done, probably so that the ghee can be used for sweet as well as savoury dishes. I would go ahead and try making it with the salted organic butter, but then only use the ghee in savoury dishes, and remember to reduce or omit the salt in the rest of the recipe.

Ghee keeps refrigerated for a long time (say, a year?) and unrefrigerated for several months. Sterilizing the jar will help it to keep without developing mold or bacteria.

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Anonymous said...

Hi there,

I tried making ghee today and I'm not sure if it worked, how do I tell?

My stove gets really hot, but then cools down too much if I turn it down. There is no happy medium. So it was foaming at first and I didn't want it to get too hot so I turned it down, but then it wasn't foaming very much, so I turned it back up shortly but it was getting quite a bit of brown sediment. It also didn't get milky, it was just gold amber colored. My finished ghee looks darker more amber yellow compared to the picture of yours.

So is this just melted, browned butter or ghee? Thanks for your advice!

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

No medium or simmer setting on your stove? How frustrating that must be for cooking!

I'm not sure if what you have is ghee, but if it's darker that just means it caramelized more than it usually should. Ghee is basically the separation of butter's milk solids and oil, where the milk solids brown at the bottom of the pot while the oil (which looks clear, not milky, as it cooks) gets separated out and poured in a jar: ghee. If you find that solids formed at the bottom and the rest of the butter was clear, I think you made ghee. :-)

Anonymous said...


The Ghee i made bit brown, I think I heated butter bit too much, can I still use it for cooking.. or will have to dump it. Please advice

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

Hi to the last comment, even if you cooked it a bit too long, you will just have made browned butter, which is delicious, and if you strained it so the dark brown sediment is removed, you still have ghee. So there's no need to throw it away, it will just have a more caramelized flavour!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your reply Claudia, appreciate it, I have heard Ghee is good for Cancer patients and it helps them to gain thr lost strenghts quickly..


Anonymous said...

Hi Fran,
I tried to make ghee yesterday, and I ended up with a golden clear liquid that I poured into glass jars last night. Today, there is still some gold liquid, but it's changing to a white, opaque substance. Did I do something wrong?

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

Hi to the last comment! No, it just sounds like the ambient temperature in your kitchen is warm enough to keep some of it liquid, but cool enough to start solidifying a bit. If it's cool in the kitchen, the ghee turns opaque (pale yellow), and if it's warm in there, it stays liquidy or at least kind of slushy/thick. Hope this helps! Sounds like you did things fine. If you want it thicker, you can refrigerate it.

Anna said...

Dear Fran, thank your for the recepie, i've been trying to find out where to buy ghee, since no body know about ghee in my community.

and now, i can make it by myself.
thank you so much

Anonymous said...

Hi Fran, I'm Hege calling from Norway. Is vegetable ghee ok for ayurvedic cooking, or should it be dairy? I'm vata, and just started to change my diet.

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

That's great, Anna!

Hege, I don't know about vegetable ghee -- what is it made of? I believe ghee is strictly clarified butter, which, if you are not vegan, is excellent for Vatas, so go ahead and have plenty of dairy ghee in your diet!

Anonymous said...

The recipe I used called for 45 minutes in making. It ended up with a whitish frost on top. After straining, the «ghee» was orangy yellow and clear. The strained stuff was from white to brownish and very salty, since I used salted butter.
Do I have real ghee?

Claudia Davila (Fran) said...

Hi to the last anonymous comment. What you describe sounds similar to my results, though I've never tried it with salted butter. The basis of clarified butter is to heat regular butter to the point of separating the milk solids from the oil, and straining off the milk solids and being left only with the oil. If you think you've done this, then I'm sure you have ghee!

Anonymous said...

Hi Fran great recipes. Yummy and very well explained. Thanks a lot for sharing. I'll try them.

Vidya Gopal said...

When the crackling noise stops, thats when you take the ghee off the flame. It always comes out perfect that way.
Very nice collection of recipes.

Payal said...

Hi Fran, I've been making my own ghee for years. In fact I've never bought ghee. At home my grandmum and mum would have the house help make fresh churned butter, then make ghee from it. The whole house smells divine! Here in the US I use organic butter - in a pinch, salted works too because the solids are what's salty and they are removed from the ghee anyway so it makes no difference to the taste. You can make spiced ghee by adding lightly crushed/whole spices along with the butter. Ayurvedic ghee is made from cows milk since ghee from it is said to have the most nutritive qualities. Since the milk solids are removed, it shouldn't bother lactose intolerant people. I'm one! For a treat, you can use a tablespoon of the solids to make pulao - a fried rice of sorts. I love your blog, I've been visiting off and on for a few years now, sorry I never left a comment until now! :-)

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