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GHEE! All You Need To Know (and How To Make Your Own!)

If you spend any time on healthy living blogs, or follow any health/foodie-focused instagram accounts, you have most likely seen the word “ghee,” floating about. 

You may have even seen it written here, in my own little space, rather frequently.

At the risk of just hopping on yet another health fad, ghee is something that I now use in my daily diet. I’m fascinated with ancient and ayurvedic medicine and so have loved researching the whats and whys of this butter alternative. Even more so, the chemist in me has lovvvvveedd making it at home and having the satisfaction of knowing I made it with my own two hands.

My hope here is to provide you with the basic information you’d want to know about this fascinating health food in a  – hopefully – accessible and easy to understand manner. 

Ghee all you need to know

 

So what IS this “Ghee” thing, and what is all the damn hype!?

 

Ghee is, for starters, clarified butter. 

“Clarified” means (in respect to food processing) melting something in order to separate out all of its impurities. Aka – its solids. Ghee, therefore, is essentially butter that has been melted and heated for so long that all of its solids have been separated away from its liquid. 

And to defend my previous claim, no, this is not a new foodie-healthy-living-blog-corporate-let’s-make-money “health” product, either. Ghee has actually been around for thousands of years. When butter first became popular in India and other southern regions of the world (way back in 2000 BC) they loved it – but it didn’t survive well in the hot temperatures. To prevent it from spoiling, it is believed that these people clarified their butter to extend its shelf life.  And thus it began.

Ghee all you need to know

 

“Why get rid of the solids” you say? 

 

Whereas butter contains butterfat, milk solids and water, the heating process of making ghee removes the water and milk fats, thus leaving pure butterfat. The milk solids become caramelized and are then filtered out, which leaves only a beautiful, pure, transparent gold liquid. 

Phase 1: Separation of solids from liquid. Look at that gold!

This method of extraction, somehow, leads to a slew of wonderful health benefits. The exact science behind why extracting the milk fats and water creates such a higher quality product is a bit beyond me – but basically as I see it, it is essentially a process of concentration. The golden liquid that is left is concentrated with only the “good stuff,” as I like to put it. 

Ghee all you need to know

Crystallized milk solids left behind

The resulting pure butterfat has a number of benefits that are actually superior to butter :

  • The concentrated ghee has a higher smoke point. This means it doesn’t burn as quickly and can be heated to higher temperatures before it starts to smoke (485 degrees F vs 350 F for butter). Why is this good? In addition to a risk of causing a fire in your house, heating oils above their smoke point destroys essential phytonutrients and can result in an increase of free radicals. Free radicals in the body = inflammation = cancer (therefore ALWAYS use an oil whose smoke point is 50 degrees higher than your intended cooking temperature. For a handy chart of oils and their smoke points – see here)

When heated, ghee also produces less of the toxic chemical, acrylamide, compared to other oils. Acrylamid has been known to increase the cancer risk in lab animals, though it’s unclear whether it also increases the cancer risk in humans. Source

Ghee all you need to know

Phase 2: Concentrated liquid separated out and put into jars

  • Removing the milk fats and water means that the lactose and casein has also been removed. THIS means that anyone who is lactose or casein-sensitive (and with all the auto immune and allergen struggles we are having in our society these days, who knows how many people don’t even know they do…) should be able to have ghee without difficulty – all the allergens have been removed! If you’ve been told to stay away from dairy and butter, experiment with ghee?

Just waiting to solidify…

  • Remember how I said it is a concentration of the good stuff? Well this concentration results in 25 percent short and medium-chain fatty acids – whereas butter, with all the other stuff it shares space with, contains only 12-15 percent. Why is this good? The body actually metabolizes these fats in a more efficient manner than long-chain fatty acids. These medium and short chains are also not associated with cardiovascular disease 

One of these short chain fatty acids is butyrate, or butyric acid.  Butyrate is so, so important to our health. For starters, it improves our digestive system and helps it function properly by controling the growth of the cells lining the gut. It’s also the most important source of energy for those gut cells. In addition, butyrate has powerful anti-inflammatory effects and can thus help with cancer prevention, most specifically, colon cancer. Read more here. 

All in all, ghee contains even more butyrate than butter. Thus, ghee can help improve digestion and reduce inflammation. 

  • The concentration of ghee also intensifies the flavor of the butter. The flavor is slightly different than butter – yes. It is a bit sweeter and nuttier. However you’ll find that in cooking preparations, to get the taste of butter, you need significantly less to reach satisfaction.

…and then…..

Ghee all you need to know

Phase 3: Solidifed ghee ready for spreading!

  • The “concentration of the good stuff,” leads to a product with an extremely high nutrient profile – even higher than butter (yes, butter has many good things in it).

It is even higher in fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K , and has more Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. One tablespoon of ghee provides approximately 15 per cent of your daily requirements of vitamin A alone. 

Voila!

How to make it yourself!

 

If you’ve ever tried to find ghee in stores or online, you will have soon discovered that it ain’t cheap! That is, if you want the good quality stuff – AKA grass fed and/or organic (don’t get the cheap stuff. Just don’t). But I’m here to convince you that making it yourself is not only SO much cheaper, but also super super easy!

There are oodles of instructions online, so I’m not here to give you a how-to play by play. I followed the steps already provided by thehealthyfoodie and found them perfectly understandable. 

All you need to do is…

Most importantly – find yourself some UNsalted, organic  and – preferably – grass fed butter (depending on where you live, it may be hard to find certified grass fed butter due to year round climates. I get mine from the farmers market which, without having certification, is the closest thing to grass fed that you can get in Canada. Just talk to the farmers to make sure! If you can’t find grass fed, organic is just fine)

Where it all starts…. a trip to your local farmers market

Then make sure you have a fine sieve and a good few layers of cheesecloth

And THEN, it is simply a process of slowly heating, stirring and watching as you witness your butter go through the COOLEST chemical reactions and transformations you’ve ever seen! (at least in your kitchen pot, that is). Seriously, it’s so cool. 

Sonia’s instructions are clear and precise – no need to be afraid of messing anything up! The whole process only took me about 30-40 minutes (however you do need to let the ghee cool and set for a number of hours before you can dig in. I know…  you can do it). Oh, and what she says about the intoxicating aroma?

Um….. she was not lying. 

I couldn’t believe the smell that, all of a sudden, flooded my kitchen!! I can’t even explain it. It’s truly something you just have to experience on your own…

Ghee all you need to know

And where it ends – spread on some homemade sourdough. Heaven. 

Which is why, I think you should all go out and get yourself some good organic butter so you can start using this super, delicious health food in your every day cooking.  

I know nothing is ever certain, but with all the toxins we take in in our daily lives,  I for one want to ensure I am doing all I can to decrease inflammation and free radical damage in my own body, and even more so in those that I love. As such, I’ll be making jars of homemade ghee for my parents for Christmas. Anything I can do to keep us all healthy and living a long, fulfilling life.

 

GHEE! All you need to know about this super health food! #ghee #healthyfats #butter #nutrition #healthfood #health Click To Tweet

Tell me,

Do you ever use ghee?

Better yet, have you ever made your own ghee?

 

 

 

 

 

    

14 COMMENTS

  1. Alyssa | 1st Dec 17

    i love ghee! I tried it for the first time this summer and haven’t had it since… but i found it super beneficial and healing for my gut. i’d love to try and make my own!

    • Cora | 8th Dec 17

      Oh that’s so cool to hear you felt it was healing for your tummy!! Love when we can see those connections.

  2. danielle | 1st Dec 17

    how lovely! gifts from your kitchen, magical. and the fact that it looks like liquid gold is such a bonus.
    i’ve made ghee, once when i was very young and fearless and didn’t think twice if a recipe asked for some ‘crazy’ task… i think i was 12. my first real cookbook was ‘curries without worries’ and it was like my bible. i made everything. i guess it was easier when i was young and lived at home where i could just whip stuff up, ask for ingredients, and not worry about where it came from. haha!
    sadly i am learning that dairy and i – even ghee – just don’t jive. it’s not that great for me and i’m at the point where my desire to feel good is greater than my desire for butter. omg i really did type that. eeek! thankfully coconut oil and nutritional yeast have a special place in my belly 🙂 happy friday friend!

    • Cora | 8th Dec 17

      Oh being young, living at home and living without a care. Let’s bring some of that back for ourselves, ya?

      Aw thats poopy ghee doesn’t settle well with you :(. You’ll just have to continue finding those things that DO settle well and keep on with them. Every make popcorn with coconut oil and NY? Sounds up your ally.

  3. Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy | 1st Dec 17

    Wow, I didn’t know all of that about ghee – very interesting about taking out the lactose and casein too. That color yellow is beautiful too!
    Sarah @ Bucket List Tummy recently posted…How to Plan for an African SafariMy Profile

    • Cora | 8th Dec 17

      Beautiful is right. Liquid gold!

  4. Kristy from Southern In Law | 3rd Dec 17

    I’ve never tried ghee or never really known anything about it so this post is so interesting!!

    • Cora | 8th Dec 17

      If you get the chance to try it – do it!

  5. Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets | 3rd Dec 17

    I’ve never actually used Ghee but I’d be totally down to try it. It sounds pretty damn magical actually and the color is fabulous.
    Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets recently posted…Week in Review: The Thankful Edition (#110)My Profile

    • Cora | 8th Dec 17

      Magic gold, let’s call it. I’ve really been enjoying making AND eating it.

  6. chasetheredgrape | 3rd Dec 17

    Yup I use ghee all the time, one of the staples in our house! I have yet to make it from scratch though which is crazy considering how much we go through!
    One things for sure, I feel super lucky that I have a choice of grass fed butter in our supermarkets here. And if in doubt I always pick up a New Zealand butter as all cows there must be grass fed as standard.

    • Cora | 8th Dec 17

      Oh you should definitely try making it!! ESPECIALLY since you guys are THE spot for the best butter in the world. Seriously, I want to go to NZ just so I can stock up on the grass fed butter. It’s basically the only place you can get it 100%. Dang Canadian winters…

  7. Kaylee | 13th Dec 17

    Ghee does this sound terrific! (I hope my terrible pun made it through the internet alright) Growing up my mom would use store-bought ghee when making Indian bread but I for some reason haven’t purchased it myself. With this, you’ve convinced me that I must get my ghee on! What are your favorite ways to use it?

    • Cora | 14th Dec 17

      Bahahahah. You are the BEST.

      My favorite way to use it is on hot steamed broccoli with salt, to make homemade stove popcorn, simply spread on sourdough bread, or any sort of frying of veggies. Mmmm.

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