How to make homemade ghee
Welcome to the first of our how-to videos!
To begin, I thought I'd show you how I make my own ghee so that you can try it at home.
If you've ever bought ready-made ghee from a shop you'll notice that it's pretty expensive, so by making it yourself you can really save yourself some money.
What is ghee?
If you are not familiar with ghee, it is essentially clarified butter.
Let's look at how this is made from milk. Initially milk is separated into skimmed-milk and cream. The cream is then churned into butter, and buttermilk is created as a by-product.
Butter is then heated until the remaining milk solids such as the protein casein, and milk sugars such as lactose, separate out of the fat component of the butter so that all remains is pure fat. If made well, it will still contain all the healing fat soluble vitamins and antioxidants, and the lipids will have maintained their integrity and not become oxidized.
How to make ghee
There are many ways to make ghee and I've tried many of them. But, through trial and error, I've brought ideas from various methods together in what I've found to be the best way to make ghee.
The main difference between my method of making ghee and most other methods is the temperature. I like to use a much lower temperature to preserve the components of the butter as much as possible.
(Side note: I have read about some methods of making ghee at even lower temperatures than I'm using, even as low as 40°C. I would definitely recommend trying that if you are using unpasteurised butter, to preserve enzymes such as lipase and also the probiotics in the butter. If you do this, you will need to leave the butter in the oven for a lot longer to get the same level of separation, and for the remaining water content of the butter to evaporate off.)
Many methods of making ghee involve heating the ghee above 110°C or heating in a saucepan until boiling. After trying these methods, I felt that some of the components of the ghee were damaged by the higher heat. It also makes a lot more mess in the pans used as the butter solids tends to burn. So making ghee at 60°C feels a lot better to me.
Even though ghee is renowned for its high burn point (and is therefore great for cooking), good quality butter will contain PUFAs (polyunsaturated fatty acids) which are unstable with heat.
It also contains cholesterol that can oxidize when heated. Cholesterol is an essential component and healing molecule that the body uses to repair itself, but when oxidized, it can cause some inflammation.
Health benefits of ghee
There are many health benefits to eating ghee...
Dairy proteins e.g. casein, and milk sugars e.g. lactose, are removed from ghee during production. These can be problematic to many people who are sensitive to them. They also tend to be the more inflammatory aspect of dairy products in general, especially casein if it's from A1 cows. Most dairy cows in the western world produce A1 milk, for example the Holstein cow that has been bred for a higher milk production. A1 means the casein molecule has a few amino acids (components of proteins) altered from the more traditional A2 that you would find in Guernsey cows. Many more people are intolerant to A1 than A2 milk.
It's high in fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K. These synergistically work together in the body to support all areas but especially the reproductive system, the skeletal system, the immune system and the nervous system.
It is lighter on the digestive system than normal butter due to the purifying process. This means it produces less mucus when digested, unlike most dairy that can be quite heavy for some people's digestion.
In Ayurveda, ghee is said to raise digestive fire or Agni.
Ghee can also be used to carry in nutrients deeper into the body due to its affinity with our tissues. For example, many phytonutrients (such as curcumin, found in turmeric) are fat soluble. Gently heating it together with ghee allows the curcumin to emulsify with the fats which can then be assimilated deep into the cells of the body. In this way, it potentiates the effect of many medicinal herbs and nutrients. Curcumin is a powerful antioxidant that can protect the fats from oxidation when heating. This is the same with most spices that are traditionally cooked together with ghee to enhance the flavour of the dish.
Fats in ghee are very nourishing to the brain and nervous system.
According to Ayurveda, ghee is considered one of the purest of all foods. It is said to nourish Ojas, the essence that builds tissues of the body and balances the hormones. Sufficient Ojas creates a strong body and mind and is essential for longevity.
For this demonstration I will use:
3 packs of butter (about 750 grams)
Pyrex oven dish
1 litre kilner jar
Tall, thin container for the remaining ghee (about 3-inch/7cm diameter)
Coffee filter or cheesecloth
Preheat your oven to 60°C.
Place butter in the Pyrex dish and place in the oven.
Leave for 3 hours to ensure full separation and water evaporation.
Remove from the oven.
Now you should see 3 layers of separation: a milky liquid at the bottom (or maybe just separate blobs of liquid), the golden ghee in the middle and some foamy milk solids on the surface.
Using a dessertspoon, skim off the milk solids floating on the top and discard.
Using a tea towel to hold the dish, pour the ghee gradually into the funnel lined with a coffee filter or cheesecloth into the kilner jar.
Be careful not to allow the liquid buttermilk on the bottom of the dish into the funnel as it will clog up the filter and flow through into your ghee.
Wait for the ghee to flow through the filter paper - this may take some time depending on the type of filter used.
Once you reach a certain point, the liquid buttermilk on the bottom will start to float up. We don't want this in our ghee.
At this point, pour the remaining ghee with milk solids into the funnel with coffee filter into the thinner container. or place in a cheese cloth and squeeze through. The container needs to be thin so that it's easier to separate the ghee floating on the top and the butter milk that will float to the bottom.
Leave both the kilner jar and thinner container to cool down to room temperature before placing in fridge.
Once refrigerated and the ghee has solidified, remove the thinner container and, using a knife cut two holes through the golden ghee into the liquid layer on the bottom. The cuts should be opposite each other so that one acts as a air hole for pressure exchange.
Pour out the liquid buttermilk as waste.
You can further clean this ghee by pouring clean water into the container, swirling around and then pouring the liquid out again, this time through a tea strainer to catch any ghee that way have come dislodged as you don't want that going straight down your drains.
When made properly, ghee is very stable, but it's best to store in a cool dark place or in the refrigerator, and keep moisture and crumb free to maintain its freshness.
Enjoy your homemade ghee!