Friday, January 28, 2011

How to Be a Ghee Whiz! (Get it?)

I know that I said that my next post would be about fermentation, but I'm busy making ghee today and thought I might as well write about it while I'm doing it.

Ghee is also known as clarified butter, or butter oil. Basically the idea is to get rid of all of the dairy solids in butter and end up with pure butterfat. You've probably had ghee at seafood's what you dip crab and lobster into. This stuff is wonderful. It's shelf stable for months, has an extremely high smoke point, and is super easy to make. It's also incredibly good for you, tastes amazing and can be eaten by almost everyone...even if you have a severe dairy allergy.

Now, naturally, if you do have a severe dairy allergy, you'll want to talk to your health care person before you start binging on ghee. But everyone else?  Dive on in!

The first step to making your own ghee is to fill a stockpot with butter and a few pinches of salt. (Forgive my poor photography skills and ancient, stained pot.) It looks something like this:
My butter is homemade, so it's not in cubes. But you can certainly make ghee with store bought butter as well. Just do me a favor and look for butter from grass fed cows, 'kay? Your taste buds and your health will thank you.

The next step is to melt it and bring it to a simmer. On my stove, with this particular pot, it's the number 3. Don't walk too far're going to be here for a while.
After your butter melts, you're going to start seeing white foamy stuff rise to the top. Get a big spoon and skim it off, a little bit at a time. I also stir each time I skim, to bring some of the solids off the bottom.
It's going to take a while (Just keep skimming, skimming, skimming,) but eventually you'll end up with a pot of clear ghee with visible solids down at the bottom. When these start to turn golden brown, your ghee is ready to strain and put in jars.
I use a second stock pot (this one happens to be really easy to pour out of) and a colander lined with several layers of cheesecloth. It's important to strain every last bit of solid stuff out, or the ghee will mold.
This is what you'll see in the bottom of your cheesecloth. It's not very pretty, but it's kind of cheesy tasting and some people put it on toast. Frankly, I think that sounds a little icky, so I give ours to the pigs.
And this is what you end up with! Beautiful, clear butter oil. Let it cool and keep it on a shelf away from the heat, and you should be able to use it for about six months. You can also freeze ghee or keep it in the fridge, so it's a good way to take advantage of sales on butter...if you can keep it around that long.

Oh, the joys of ghee! Deep fry with it. Saute vegetables with it. Drink it...or not.


PS:  Check out the Weston A. Price Foundation for some science on why you should be eating ghee.
PPS:  This is unrelated to ghee, but my dear friend Ann Marie Michaels, aka Cheeseslave, has a fantastic and heartwrenching post up today about the Estrella Family Creamery.  Please listen to the podcast and share it like crazy.  We need to support our small farmers!


  1. We use the solids as something we call 'ghee snack', and my oldest boy loves it. Sprinkle in a little cinnamon and stir in either some stevia or honey, whatever you tolerate. He gets so upset when I forget and put the solids in the compost, lol!

    1. Cool! I was hoping the solids could be put to use, as well.

  2. If we use store-bought butter, should we use salted or unsalted butter?

  3. Stefanie,
    In India, My mom made it with unsalted homemade butter. Salted would work as well But if you are trying to Keep your slat intake down I would recommend unsalted butter..

    If you want fresh ghee, You can make small batches at a time.. try it with a stick or two to begin with..

    Good luck..

  4. How much butter did you use here to get two jars of ghee? I also make my own butter (can't find grass-fed butter in Ontario - have to make it myself!) so I'm basically wondering how many litres of cream I will need per jar of ghee.


  5. A great clear presentation, thank you! I'm passing it on to a couple of my patients :) A friend of mine makes it with herbs. I tried Turmeric, and of course it's a bright WOW yellow, I think Rosemary would be quite nice (next time).

  6. I love your stained pot! I once brought a pot to a potluck and was horrified to find that the hostess had scrubbed out every single stain. That's the best part of enamel pots!!

  7. BlazingBetta, this was several pounds...I didn't measure exactly; I just filled the pot. :-)

    A note on salted vs. unsalted: if you are using commercial butter, I recommend using salted. Most commercial unsalted butter contains a preservative.

    Cryana, I'd just be thrilled for someone else to do my dishes. ;-)

    Thanks for reading!

  8. also add a few cilantro leaves and about 2 table spoons of buttermilk when the butter is done heating up, the smell of ghee will be awesome