Oh, ghee. The deep color of sunshine with a smooth, unique taste, used for cooking, aid in elimination, sexual vitality, skin health and more. It’s an incredibly flexible ingredient, free of sodium, carbohydrates, and sugar, yet rich in healthy fats. It’s a staple in Ayurvedic cooking, cleanses and lifestyle, and essential for a sattvic (balanced) diet. Ghee itself is considered a perfectly sattvic food, promoting positivity and spiritual growth. It can reverse the effects of aging and increase longevity. In Ayurveda, it is considered one of the best fats you can eat! With a history covering thousands of years and uses, from Pancha Karma to religious ceremonies, Ghee has lasted the test of time.
Whether you’re new to Ayurveda, or vegan, or just intimidated by the process of making ghee, the rest of this article is here to answer your questions and then some!
What is ghee anyway?
Ghee is a type of clarified butter. It’s made by cooking out the milk solids, impurities and water from unsalted butter, resulting in a lactose-free butterfat that is chock full of nutrients.
Historically, ghee has been used in religious rituals as well as in cooking and cleansing.
The benefits of ghee
1. It doesn’t need to be refrigerated because it contains no milk solids. As long as it isn’t contaminated, it has an indefinite shelf life. Some mixtures have been known to last over 100 years!
It’s an easy substitute for butter that has essential properties for health and weight loss!
Ghee has a distinctive, fragrant, nutty flavor that smells amazing! Especially while cooking. The purity of ghee itself allows it to penetrate and nourish the body as it passes through the lipid membranes of cells. Because of this, eating food cooked in ghee will draw the vitamins and minerals from the meal deep into the body where it can be of most benefit. Not only that, when you add spices to ghee when cooking, that flavor is carried into the food. Many herbal preparations use ghee as the carrier oil because of these unique characteristics.
Ghee is extremely rich in good fats. Fat tends to have a bad name in most of today’s world, but healthy fats help preserve cell membrane structure, enabling proper immune system function and nutrient absorption.
This leads to the incredible effect ghee is said to have on mental health. Ghee can restore balance to the mind and enhance brain function. Modern scientific research is now revealing that negative emotions are chemical in nature. Ancient cultures have been telling us that for years: the mind and body are one. These chemicals (emotions) are attracted to and stored in, guess what? Fat! The great news is, ghee can be used to replace those fats. Plus, if used properly in a cleanse, ghee can pull out these emotional toxins so they can be cleansed from the body.
According to Dr. Vasant Lad, director of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico, ghee can promote flexibility and act as a lubricant for connective tissues in the body. This makes it an excellent companion for a Yoga practice.
Have you ever felt sluggish or bloated after eating oily food? Unlike many other oils and butters, ghee greatly improves digestion by stimulating the secretion of stomach acids. This helps increase the absorption of other nutrients, including the vitamins present in the ghee itself! Moderate, long-term consumption of ghee can help treat ulcers, acid reflux, constipation, heartburn and other digestive issues. With its light nature yet high content of vitamins, athletes can use ghee as a consistent energy source.
Ghee is great for skin! It helps to promote a healthy glow from the inside out. It helps to keep mucous membrane and skin cells healthy and prevent cell damage. One serving of ghee contains around 1,418 units of vitamin A, which is 28 percent of our recommended daily intake. Vitamin A, which is lacking in other edible oils, is nicknamed the “medicine of the immune system.” One serving of ghee also contains 1.3 milligrams of vitamin E. Vitamin E is an essential cancer-fighting antioxidant! Not only that, ghee has four micrograms of vitamin K, which plays a key part in blood health.
Ghee can tolerate high temperatures, which gives it a big advantage over regular butter which can scorch due to its milk proteins. Many other oils, like olive oil, becomes carcinogenic when heated, unlike ghee, which maintains its nutritional structure when subjected to heat. Ghee’s flash point is around 485 degrees, which makes it perfect for cooking, frying and sauteing.
Burned yourself while cooking or laying out too long at the beach? Many people still believe you can put butter on burns to soothe it. Try it and you'll quickly learn that butter keeps the heat in and hurts. That's not the case with ghee, which can be used successfully on burns to assuage pain and enhance healing.
Things to remember
Ghee has a stable shelf life, but can grow mold if contaminated. To keep this from happening...
Store in a cool, dry place in a sealed container
Only store ghee in airtight glass containers, like mason jars.
Do not store in plastic!
Only use clean, dry utensils when taking ghee from the jar.
How to make ghee in 30 minutes and 9 simple steps
1 pound of unsalted butter (preferably organic)
Skillet with high sides
Fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth
Glass container or mason jar for storage
Heat a wide-bottomed skillet with high sides over medium-low heat. Once hot, add butter. After 5 minutes the butter should be almost melted.
Once butter is completely melted and begins to bubble, very slightly lower the heat. You want a steady bubble but not so much that butter is jumping out of the pan.
Cook for 25 to 30 minutes or until the milk protein has completely separated and there is a layer on the top and bits on the bottom of the pan.
Begin carefully skimming the top layer off until with the wooden spoon until the ghee looks clean except for bits on the very bottom. Discard this top layer.
Raise the heat back up to medium low and continue cooking another 5 to 10 minutes until most of the bubbling stops and the milk protein pieces on the bottom of the pan begin to brown.
Immediately remove the ghee from the stove top and set somewhere to cool.
Once cool, strain through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth.
Discard the toasted parts from the bottom of the pan.
Store ghee at room temperature in a glass container or mason jar and enjoy!