How to Make Ghee

How to Make Ghee Recipe

I make homemade ghee from good butter every few weeks. Making ghee is a process I enjoy, and it yields a wonderful 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.In short, this post is all about how to make ghee. And, yes! You should absolutely do it.

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

What is 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.How to Make Ghee

Ghee in Ayurveda

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 Ghee

Tips to Cooking with Ghee

- 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

Other Uses for 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

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How to Make Ghee

4.17 from 18 votes

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.

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

Heat and Simmer
  1. 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. 

Skim and Strain
  1. 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. 

Cool and Store
  1. 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!

Serves
24
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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  • 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.

    Ana
  • 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?

    Janet Paula
  • 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.

    la domestique
  • 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

    Jens Sejer Johansen
  • 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!

    Abra Burke
  • 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.

    Vera
  • 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.

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

    Anonymous
  • 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!

    Kristine Gallant
  • 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.

    Bonnie Epps
  • 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.

    parishioner
  • 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.

    Marianne
  • 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!

    Suman
  • 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.

    Desi
  • 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.

    Archana
  • 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.

    skye
  • 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.

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

    sabine@mamangerie
  • 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.

    Anne
  • 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.

    Keik
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