How to Make Ghee

How to Make Ghee


I make homemade ghee from good butter every few weeks. It's a process I enjoy, and it yields one of my favorite cooking mediums. For those of you who might be unfamiliar, ghee is an unsalted butter that has had the milk solids removed after separating from the butterfat, resulting in beautiful, golden, pure fat with an unusually high smoking point. This means ghee (and its cousin, clarified butter) is remarkably stable, even at higher temperatures. The process for making clarified butter is similar to that of making ghee, ghee is simply cooked longer and has more contact with the browning milk solids, in turn lending a different flavor profile. So(!), there you have a basic description, but ghee is so much more than this.

How to Make Ghee

Ghee is an ingredient deeply revered in India, most often made from the milk of the sacred cow. There are few ingredients that have been as culturally significant for as long. Although, as I think about it, in the Arab world, there is smen, another ancient dairy-based fat made, traditionally, from the milk of sheep and/or goat. I encountered it in Morocco. Both butters are clarified, and both have been used in ceremonial, healing, and culinary ways for millennia. Smen is funky, technically rotten, and distinctive - accurately titled beurre ranci in French. It is sometimes buried for months to develop it's prized flavor. I don't think there is a culture of celebrating rancid ghee in India (maybe someone can correct me?), but if your ghee does go rancid - which I have had happen on occasion when the kitchen is unusually warm, or if I wasn't quite careful enough straining solids - you can simply think of it as Indian smen? A distinctive finishing flavor, no question.

If you set a glowing jar of ghee next to a cube of shortening, you just know, one of these supports life and vitality, and the other doesn't. It's the sort of thing you can just sense. In India, Ayurvedic physicians know ghee to be the good stuff, the liquid gold. It is considered vital for health and well-being, and is used to balance and support the body from the inside and the outside - eyes, memory, strength. It's a fat that helps fat-soluble nutrients become available to the body. It is recommended for expectant mothers. And it is beautiful. Correspondingly, it can also be quite expensive to buy, particularly if it is from a good producer. The good news is, making it yourself is a simple, satisfying process.

How to Make GheeHow to Make GheeHow to Make Ghee

A couple side notes before diving into the recipe:

- Use less. If you've never cooked with ghee before, just go easy to start. I've found that I typically need less throughout the process compared with, say, olive oil.

- It loves a wok. Wok cooking or stir-fry is an exercise in high-temperature intensity. Which can be hard on oils, and you end up having the oils break down, and not in a good way. I don't like using highly refined oils, the ones that are highly-processed, even though they advertise high smoke points. So, ghee is a good option, as long as it works for the flavors you are cooking. I don't think it works alongside soy sauce, for example, but I'll often use my wok to knock out a quick vegetable stir-fry, that is more California in spirit - a little oil, salt, lemon zest, vegetables - and ghee works great. Another alternative is extra-virgin coconut oil. It likes the wok too.

- Lastly, one for the die-hards. Some say the best ghee comes from homemade butter. Meaning, you first make butter from fresh cream, and then you set sights on turning that butter into delicious ghee. The extra step certainly turns a relatively easy endeavor into something more ambitious, but I thought I'd mention it for those of you who are up for a more extensive challenge. That doesn't phase you? There are also examples of ghee made from water buffalo milk, and sheep's milk. I'm not sure I could cite a goat's milk example, but I'm sure that exists as well. A cook I spoke with in Rajasthan told me ghee tastes different in India, in part, because they use butter that has been cultured before proceeding, also the diet of the livestock there varies, and in turn the milk reflects this. Cultured butter is relatively easy to come by, so you can experiment with cultured vs. uncultured if you like.

How to Make Ghee

Although I've made it a practice to prepare homemade ghee for some time now, I feel like there is so much I don't know about its culture, ceremonial use, historical relevance, or simply the way it has been used in daily life. I know it is used to treat infection, to anoint gods and idols, and to power lamps that are thought to ward off evil and negativity. I'm sure there is much insight you can share from your own lives and experiences, and I'd love to hear whatever you're compelled to share. -h

How to Make Ghee

Source the best butter you can here, preferably organic. Experiment between cultured and uncultured butter. Also! I love to save the milk solids, they're delicious! Particularly tossed with brown rice. Use immediately, or refrigerate.

1 pound / 16 ounces / 450 g of the best quality, unsalted butter you can source

To make ghee, gently melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. After melting, the butter will separate into three layers. This should only take a few minutes. Foam will appear on the top layer, the milk solids will migrate to the bottom of the pan, and clarified butter will float between the two. Let the butter come to a simmer and hold it here until the middle layer becomes fragrant, more golden than when you started, and clear - push the solids on top out of the way to have a peek. The milk solids at the bottom will begin to brown. At this point it is a matter of preference, you can let the solids lightly brown, or let things progress a bit further. When the ghee is finished, skim absolutely all of the top layer of foam into a bowl with a spoon or strainer, turn off the heat, and allow things to settle for a minute or so. Next, carefully pour the golden central layer through a strainer, into a clean glass jar, leaving the milk solids at the bottom of the pan. If you were able to get all the solids out, and use clean and dry utensils in the jar, ghee will keep at room temperature for weeks. It can be used as a cooking oil, finishing element, and is also a traditional body moisturizer and massage medium :). Enjoy!

Makes about 1 1/2 cups.

 
 
 
 
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Your Comments


Keik
August 13, 2014

I just want to say that I am so in love with all your food photography. Thanks for sharing! I would definitely try that out.

 

Anne
August 14, 2014

Heidi, thank you so much for this - I didn't realise there was more to ghee than clarifying. I love your attention to detail & the wonderful learning I get from your posts. & you make it all sound so simple that I get really inspired to try new things. Thanks again.

 

Vera
August 14, 2014

Thank you so much for this informative post! It has "clarified" many questions I had regarding ghee, e.g. the difference between ghee and clarified butter, and I now feel confident to try it.

 

Jens Sejer Johansen
August 14, 2014

If you put the saucepan with the melted butter in the refrigerator, you can rinse the milk solids away with cold water when the butter has become hard.

/Sejer

 

la domestique
August 14, 2014

I've never really embraced ghee, so it's interesting to read all about it here. The idea of making my own is something I can identify with more than buying it off the shelf.

 

sabine@mamangerie
August 14, 2014

I completely agree, using clarified butter/ghee for cooking is such a flavor-releasing thing!

 

Monica
August 14, 2014

This is a great write-up on the subject of ghee. Thank you for the education. While I know there's much more to learn, this was really informative for me.

 

Ana
August 14, 2014

Hm hm, you've made me think. It sounds totally worth it to try and make your own ghee. You've inspired me to try it, thanks.

 

skye
August 14, 2014

I too love ghee, there is a savory element to it that butter just doesn't offer (which is shocking since I love butter). I plop a tablespoon of ghee into my rice cooker and add lightly smashed black pepper, cumin, mustard and coriander seed before adding the rice and water. It makes an incredible spiced rice. It's perfect served with sauteed spiced spinach or lentils.

 

Archana
August 14, 2014

Wonderfully informative post, Heidi! In our house just like most Indian homes, we use ghee in many traditional sweets...no sweet is complete without ghee. As you have already mentioned, we use it to light diyas (lamps) during festivals and special occasions. For the ultimate comforting meal, we also at times drizzle it over rice and dal.

 

Desi
August 14, 2014

Or you could put your saucepan of homemade, grassfed cultured butter in the oven at 250F for 75 minutes. Then strain through a coffee filter while it's still warm. In India my maid added a particular leaf during this process -she stopped the cooking when the leaf was aromatic, before it burnt (on the stovetop). As a child one of my favorites was to eat the crunchy leftover leaf. And the ghee was divine. Small quantities, finished quickly by ravenous kids. It's best used as a garnish in a finished dish; often served on the side to highlight it's aromatic qualities which often gets lost in regular cooking.
The more water and solids in your ghee, the quicker it will turn rancid on you - put it in the fridge to avoid this; esp if you are just starting out making ghee. Namaste.

 

Suman
August 14, 2014

ghee, one of the staples in our house! we always make our own, i've never bought it. i've found that Amish butter or pastured organic butter work the best. i love keeping a big jar in my kitchen...not only is it great for cooking, but we use it for everything from a lip and skin moisturizer to "greasing" the handle of our finicky pressure cooker ! talk about a true multitasking substance!

 

Marianne
August 14, 2014

I love ghee! I have made fresh butter starting with raw milk, yes a bit labour intensive but a fun project.

Because I try to eat only organic dairy and can't get unsalted organic butter where we live, I now use organic ghee from the health food store.

 

parishioner
August 14, 2014

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3215354/

this possibly shows some interesting facts about the effect of ghee versus vegetable "ghee" in the diets of Indians and the incidence of heart disease and its risk factors.

thanks, Heidi. I'm going to make some.

 

Bonnie Epps
August 14, 2014

I have looked for an easy yet good way to make ghee. Your discription is beautiful to read. I am eager to try it. Thank you so much it was like taking a world journey to taste satisfaction.

 

Kristine Gallant
August 14, 2014

I am an Ayurvedic Personal Chef and use Ghee for almost all dishes that I prepare. I will sometimes use coconut oil if I thing it will enhance the flavors in that particular dish.
I have a friend who is an Ayurvedic Practitioner and he also believes in the healing power of ghee. It is also the only oil that can actually "Get into" the joints and thus helps keeps our joint lubricated and working at their peak!

 

Anonymous
August 14, 2014

Ghee will keep for quite some time without turning rancid if the milk solids have been completely removed.

 

Somesh
August 14, 2014

Ghee will keep for a long time without turning rancid. I guess this was done pre-refrigeration times as a method of preservation.

 

Laura
August 14, 2014

Thank you so much for all the ways you hare healthy food, conscious living, and even Ayurvedic ways. A couple of years ago I posted a video on how to make ghee. Even though it is simp, many still shy away. I hope everyone will try it. It is truly the food of the gods. Infinite blessings!
http://food-alovestory.com/2012/03/25/how-to-make-ghee/

 

Indira
August 14, 2014

As others have said, ghee is delicious on rice. It's also good on toast, sprinkled lightly with sugar. In fact, try it anywhere you use butter.
It's also part of panchakarma, the Ayurvedic detox program.

 

Abra Burke
August 14, 2014

I am allergic to casein, it exists in most dairy products. Does anyone know if it exists in Ghee? I haven't yet to find a clear answer. Thank you!

 

I love this post on ghee, Heidi. I try to follow many of the principles of Ayurvedic medicine and certainly believe in the benefits of ghee. That said I have not made it from scratch but I need to!!

 

Arthur in the Garden!
August 14, 2014

wonderful tips! I love ghee

 

CiaoFlorentina
August 14, 2014

Absolutely gorgeous color! Super delicious and in my opinion guilt free if you make it from organic butter from organic grass fed cows. Nature's amazing gift!

 

Nur
August 14, 2014

I have done ghee for several years and cook regularly with it and the more experienced I get with making ghee, the longer I cook it.

As some commenters have said, if you remove all milk solids, it keeps a long time, up to a year or so, even in moderately warm climates, or at least this is my experience.

Regarding clarified butter in Morocco, very interesting! I once read that they keep some of their best for the weddings of their children, but for the life of me I couldn't find this article. Do you know about this?

Very nice and elegant cooking site!

 

Patricia Scarpin
August 14, 2014

I have never tried making ghee, your post is very useful!

We have something similar here in Brazil, called "manteiga de garrafa":
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manteiga-da-terra

 

Janet Paula
August 14, 2014

Interesting and hope to make some soon. If kept in the refrigerator will it last longer. Also, if it is kept in the refrigerator do you have to bring it to room temperature before using?

 

I love this post on ghee, Heidi. I try to follow many of the principles of Ayurvedic medicine and certainly believe in the benefits of ghee. That said I have not made it from scratch but I need to!!

 

Sarah
August 14, 2014

Beautiful photos and write-up! I've always been curious about ghee but never brave enough to try it out. I think I'm going to give it a shot!

 

Annette
August 14, 2014

I love to use half ghee, half extra-virgin coconut oil when I make popcorn...all it needs after that is a sprinkle of salt and you have delicious buttery popcorn without having to add extra butter.

 

Gen
August 14, 2014

I recently bought some pastured organic butter -- available for a short time only, so I bought extra for the freezer. Can't wait to try this recipe. I also thought clarified butter/ghee was the same thing and have made clarified butter before. Now I'll try it your way. :)

 

Lisa Staffelbach
August 14, 2014

I was taught to make ghee by making sour cream, butter, and then ghee. It's delicious and easy, but it does take a little longer. I just make the butter from the sour cream in the food processor, strain and rinse the butter (Save the buttermilk to drink!), and then make ghee.

 

Lail | With A Spin
August 14, 2014

Ghee is a must pantry item in South Asia not just India. My favorite part if making ghee is really the after snack. Warm a bread in the pan you made ghee, sprinkle some sugar and you'll get the best toast ever.

 

Nathalie
August 14, 2014

Abra Burke: re: your casein question. I turned to ghee when I found out I was sensitive to casein. It's actually recommended.

I use fresh butter made from raw milk that I buy at the market ... yum!

Love the stuff. Thanks for a very informative post!

 

Anu
August 14, 2014

I've always made ghee at home and I use Kerrygold butter. Of all the readily available brands I've tried, this one makes the most fragrant, delicious ghee. I stir a spoonful of it into my kids's meals, rice, soups, spread it on their rotis, pretty much everything. Grilled cheese or grilled nut butter and honey sandwiches with ghee instead of butter on the outside are absolutely delicious.
Ghee as you said, has been around in India for a very long time and has many healing properties. Any Indian kitchen is incomplete without it.

Ghee is a very essential part of a woman's pre-natal and post-partum care in India. It's believed to heal and replenish and provide essential fats to her nursing baby.

 

Cheri
August 14, 2014

Great info on ghee, Heidi and I want to make this....Question-is it just me or is the "print" function missing?

 

Poonam
August 14, 2014

We make ghee every fortnight and freeze it if we have too much. It freezes really well and will save it from going rancid. My mother uses browned milk solids to our poori batter- they are like crackers. The milk solids add a lovely crunch.

 

Elaine
August 14, 2014

I grew up in a Lebanese home and we used clarified butter a lot ...but I am not familiar with ghee. Looking forward to giving it a try. -Elaine

 

Carly Robins
August 14, 2014

I LOVE ghee and have used it many times. I have done research on ghee and because it is so much more rich in flavor ...when used in baking recipes where butter is called for you can halve the amount and use ghee instead...which is actually much less calories and fat!

 

Mink
August 14, 2014

In Hindu mythology, Prajápati, Lord of Creatures, created ghee by rubbing or "churning" his hands together and then poured it into fire to engender his progeny; whenever the Vedic ritual was performed of pouring ghee into fire, it was a re‑enactment of creation.
---
I found this -- and more ghee-lore-- at this website: http://www.webexhibits.org/butter/countries-india.html

 

J
August 15, 2014

Monsoon Diary by Shoba Narayan is a wonderful narrative of the Indian kitchen in which ghee is mentioned often and with adoration — worth the read! Great post!

 

KN
August 15, 2014

Please, PLEASE, don't discard the milk solids! My family is from South India, and we always considered it a great delicacy to eat the browned milk solids mixed with a bit of sugar. Of course, they're very rich, so you wouldn't want more than a teaspoon or so, but it's a treat worth trying!

 

Allison T
August 15, 2014

I have made clarified butter before but have yet to make ghee. I think I will try this recipe soon, it looks wonderful!

 

Maggie
August 15, 2014

Liquid gold, indeed! I love making and using ghee. Great, comprehensive post, Heidi! xo

 

Amber
August 15, 2014

I love ghee and one of the treats I look forward to when I go home to Pakistan, are fresh, hot parathas made with ghee. And many people back home swear by oiling one's hair with ghee once per week. It's a bit of a pain to wash out but it works so well for lustrous, conditioned hair

 

June
August 15, 2014

I love making ghee and if I decide to make Ethiopian food, I add several seasonings - garlic, onion ,fenugreek, etc. - to make the spiced butter. When I lived in Ethiopia many years ago, rancid butter was available in the marketplace and some women used it as a hair dressing.

 

David
August 15, 2014

Heidi, where did you get the ceramic saucepan in the picture for this ghee recipe? It is gorgeous, and I want one! Will it ever be available on Quitokeeto?? David
HS: hi David - it was a vintage find years ago. I love the wooden handle too :)

 

DesiStuff
August 16, 2014

Well, if you use milk daily, start doing what semi- / urban household in India, who use at least half-a-litre milk every day, do. Get into a habit of boiling the milk, at least once instead of using it directly from the packet/bottle. Allow boiled milk to cool. Refrigerate it. Next day, remove the creamy-oily crust and carefully put it in a wide mouth steel container with a lid that can keep one litre of liquid. Put the container away in the friger. Repeat the process every day and keep adding the crust to now frozen crust from previous days. When the container is half-full, put it on lowest heat (and smallest burner) on a cooker/stove for a few hours. Stir it once in a while. when all that is left is light brown solids and golden liquid, remove from the cooker/stove and let it cool a bit. Then strain the liquid (you may use a tea-strainer) and squeeze out oil from the solid into a glass/steel jar. Do not cover the jar at all. Allow the liquid to cool down completely and come down to room temperature (Leave it open for 24 hours if the need be). After that cover the jar and keep it wherever you want, but not in the fridger or refrigerator. Use it to cook or just add a half a tea spoon to daal or any cooked rice/vegetables dish or spread it on roti or naan. Always use a completely dry spoon to take out ghee. Now use the light brown solids to make sweets or just add it in dough for bread/roti/naan.

 

LD
August 16, 2014

It seems wasteful to discard the milk solids, at least. Are there uses for them? I see a comment about eating them with a bit of sugar, but what about adding to bread dough or biscuits or something of that nature? Does anyone know of uses?

HS Hi LD: I mention that I use the solids tossed with brown rice, or popcorn, or fresh corn, or asparagus, or spread on paratha.....

 

gabby
August 17, 2014

this was an awesome post! I come here, and my favorite part of your site i guess, to learn new things - you always have some process i didn't understand before, ingredient pairing I never had encountered, or something else to pique my food curiosity, and just help me expand my happy eating knowledge. thank you!

 

cR
August 18, 2014

This is a special post for me. For reasons too obscure and complicated to explain, we've named our precious kitty Ghee. Nobody, including our vet, gets it - big communal head scratch going on. We love our Ghee!

 

Renee H.
August 18, 2014

O M GHEE! Ok, lame. But this is a great post! I use ghee all the time and wanted to make a post about it but I could never make the process look pretty and delicate in photos... You nailed it!

 

Alexandra
August 19, 2014

I begin the process of making ghee slightly differently. I add about 3/4 of an inch of water to the pan, and begin the heating process, really, REALLY s-l-o-w-l-y. I melt all the butter making sure that no simmering or bubbling takes place, then, the moment all the butter is melted, I remove it from the heat, allow it to cool, and then place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, the butter has solidified on top of the water. I pierce a hole right where the butter meets the pan, and another hole directly opposite. Then, I pour all the water off; it comes out milky white and containing the stuff which makes the foam. I repeat the above process, until the water is clear, usually once or twice more, depending on the quality of the butter. Then, once the last bout of water has been poured off, I reheat the ghee, and continue as in the above recipe instructions.

This process is more long-winded, but entails little effort, and the resulting butter is clearer and has fewer impurities although the milk solids still gather at the bottom.... Hope this helps!

 

Rachael
August 19, 2014

Oh my I really needed to read this post! I recently got a new healthy recipe book that only uses ghee to cook with but I could not find it anywhere in the supermarkets. Now I can make my own. Thanks so much for posting this!

 

Chitra
August 19, 2014

Heidi, I'm so happy you shared your beautiful photos and more on the process of ghee making. I love the crackle too when I make ghee and I use some of the milk solids actually to butter toast with and mix into plain rice. Ghee plays such an important part in many Hindu rituals and my most favorite memories growing up are of smelling ghee and onions cooking on the stove. Pure heaven!

 

arundhati
August 20, 2014

the milk solids are called "khoya" in hindi and are a base for sweets. you can also add it to meat or paneer dishes - adds some colour and riches. or simply add some sugar for a delicious fudgy treat.
adding a bay leaf to the ghee adds some flavour.
and yes i also dutifully save up all the cream left over from the day's milk, freeze it, and once i have enough make ghee!

 

Libby Jennison
August 21, 2014

Hi Heidi : )
Ghee is used for internal oleation when preparing (purvakarma) for a traditional ayurvedic detoxification (panchakarma). It brings all of the ama to the GI tract so it can then be eliminated from the body. However, doing oleation without a thoughtful, proper, and traditional detoxification program can do more harm than good. It is akin to "waking a sleeping snake". best, libby

 

LEONARD W. GOLDSTEIN
August 21, 2014

Thursday, 21 August 2014
04:50pm

I'm Uninterested in 101ciookbooks.
Please REMOVE/DELETE/UNSUB-
SCRIBE/BURN OFF my email address
from your 101 email addressing list/data
recipe file.

Thank You and I hope every recipe is
well cooked,

LEONARD W. GOLDSTEIN
lennygoldstein48@gmail.com

 

Adeel
August 21, 2014

I have made ghee following this recipe and it came out great. Thenonly thing i didnt do is wait for the solids on the bottom to turn brown. Is it more delicious if we wait till they turn brown. Thanks

 

Sarah
August 24, 2014

Bit annoyed with myself, just started making it then read it should be unsalted butter! Is this a disaster or can I just continue & produce a slightly different 'animal'


HS: Just go for it Sarah!

 

Suz in SantaCruz
August 26, 2014

Thanks Heidi, for the usual informative post, beautifully photographed. I made ghee years ago as part of a communal Indian dinner. The recipe I found had one cook the ghee for ages, until it was way reduced and a rich, dark, nutty brown. Delicious and very shelf stable, but I'm going to be happy to give your version a try. Cheers!

 

Great post and ghee recipe. I use ghee frequently especially when cooking Indian dishes. There is some very good advice within the comments as well. Thank you.