Some call it ghee. Some call it clarified butter. Some call it drawn butter. Whatever you care to call it, it is the pure fat rendered from butter after removing the milk solids and water from the butterfat.
Popular with many cultures around the world, ghee is surprisingly absent from the average American’s kitchen.
Ghee is a very versatile cooking fat, has fantastic flavor and goes well with almost everything.
Yet, it is very difficult to find Ghee in a standard grocery store.
Because of the limited (and often expensive) availability, it usually makes the most sense to render your own ghee.
Today’s post will serve as a how to to make ghee at home.
Ghee Vs Butter
Most people don’t have ghee readily available at their home. Why would someone use ghee when butter is so readily available for reasonable prices?
Some people are intolerant of dairy, or avoid it altogether for health reasons. Butter is not like most cooking fats in the sense that it is not pure fat. One ounce of butter has the following nutritional profile:
Once rendered into ghee, the milk fat and protein is completely removed along with the water, so we are left with pure fat that is entirely non-dairy with a very different nutritional profile.
One ounce of ghee has the following nutritional profile:
Ghee Smoke Point
Coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil and sesame oil are well-known for their unique flavors, but the unique flavor of real butter cannot be understated (Land O’Lakes purchasers may not know that butter does, in fact, have flavor!).
In addition, the versatility of butter is unmatched. We all know of recipes that do not lend themselves well to the flavors of coconut, olive and sesame oil, but whether we’re making meat, vegetables, starch or baking treats, butter always goes well. However, with a smoke point of only 350 degrees F, it will not serve well as a high temperature cooking fat.
Ghee has a much higher smoke point. Depending on the purity of the ghee, smoke point can range anywhere from 400-485 degrees F, and since the water and milk solids are removed, we won’t have to worry about the splattering effect that occurs when butter is heated to a higher temperature.
The end result is a versatile, delicious non-dairy cooking fat suitable for both low and high temperature cooking that is very resistant to oxidation thanks to its very high saturated fat content and nearly non-existent polyunsaturated fat content.
Use Quality Butter
The most important thing to remember when rendering your own ghee: USE QUALITY BUTTER! Using standard butter from confinement-raised cows creates a bland, forgettable cooking fat you may not find yourself using very often.
Using cultured butter from grass fed cows, on the other hand, will leave you with a rich, aromatic cooking fat that will have you wondering how you’ve gone this long without having ghee in your pantry.
And of course, the much improved omega 3/omega 6 ratio is appreciated. If grass fed butter is unavailable, at least use a cultured butter for the sake of flavor, and, of course, make sure the butter is unsalted. Purity is important when rendering ghee, and using salted butter will deliver poor results.
Ghee Butter Recipe
Cut your butter into chunks and melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
While keeping heat on medium-low, slowly bring the butter to a simmer. As the simmering draws the water out of the butter, the milk solids will float to the top and create a foam.
With a stainless steel spoon, scoop as much of the foam out as possible. Don’t worry if you can’t remove 100% of the foam. The remainder will be strained later.
Continue to simmer the butter until all bubbling stops. When the mixture completely stops bubbling, that means all the water has been cooked out of the butter, leaving behind pure fat.
Make sure you stir the mixture with a metal spoon several times to verify all bubbling activity has stopped.
Once all the water has been cooked out of the butter, you will be left with a rich, amber oil with trace amounts of milk solids floating on the surface.
Take note that the hotter the flame you use to boil the water out of the butter, the darker the resulting oil will be and the stronger the flavor.
This may or may not be appealing to you. If you enjoy the nutty, rich taste of “browned butter”, you may want to use a hotter flame. For those who want a mild, more “buttery” tasting ghee, make sure you simmer your butter over a lower heat to remove the water.
Strain the milk solids out of the oil with a stainless steel strainer lined with fine cheesecloth (muslin fabric may also work). I recommend doubling up the cheesecloth to assure that all milk solids are removed.
Make sure you use a stainless steel strainer and not a mesh fabric strainer. The hot oil will burn right through a mesh fabric strainer and ruin your strainer AND your ghee.
Once you’ve strained out all the milk solids and sediment, what remains is pure oil.
Allow the oil to cool until warm but still completely liquid. Pour the cooled oil into a glass storage jar and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 months. Never pour hot oil into a glass container. The glass container may explode on contact with hot oil.
Out of 24 oz. of butter, we are left with 14.7 oz of clarified butter or ghee. That goes to show you the amount of water content and milk solids found in butter!
Ghee has a very deep flavor and a little goes a long way. I recommend making a large batch so the time spent rendering yields the maximum reward.