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 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.
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.
Crystallized milk solids left behind
The resulting pure butterfat has a number of benefits that are actually superior to butter :
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
Phase 2: Concentrated liquid separated out and put into jars
Just waiting to solidify…
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.
Phase 3: Solidifed ghee ready for spreading!
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.
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…
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
Do you ever use ghee?
Better yet, have you ever made your own ghee?