Ghee has always been a staple food in Indian households for centuries. The Sanskrit word for Ghee is Ghrita – घृत (ghṛta, “sprinkled”).Ghee is considered sacred and as a superfood in Ayurveda. It is also known as ‘Golden Nectar’ due to their wonderful healing properties. Ghee can be kept at room temperature and has a long shelf life. The more aged the ghee, the more beneficial to the body. I love the intoxicating aroma and taste of freshly made Ghee. Just a teaspoon of ghee is any dish is so comforting.
ऋणम् कृत्वा घृतम् पिबेत् यावत् जीवेत् सुखम् जीवेत् ।
RuNam kRutvA ghRutam pibet yaavat jeevet sukham jeevet |
It means ‘ Take a loan, drink Ghee and live happily as long as you live
Some of the benefits of consuming Ghee:
- It improves digestive fire and heals inflammation in the GI tract. Its helps to keep the GI tract lubricated thereby reducing problems related to it.
- It is the best lipid source for our nervous cells and helps in the prevention of Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Dementia.
- It has anti-viral and anti-fungal properties.
- It contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which helps in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases. It is high is HDL and has zero LDL. Experts say that if your cholesterol is within normal range, then you can consume a tsp of ghee with each meal. It is packed with fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K.
To reap the benefits of ghee, it is important to prepare it with butter from a good quality raw, free-range, grass-fed whole Cow’s milk. People in India make ghee from both Cow and Buffalo milk. How would you know the difference? Cow’s milk is yellow and Buffalo milk is white. Traditionally Ghee is always prepared at home, though now it is widely sold in stores under different brands. But the taste and texture of home made ghee is very hard to find in the store bought ones and also they are extremely pricey. In modern times because of the ultra-pasteurization and homogenization processes of milk, it has become extremely difficult to find good quality cow’s milk and this affects the quality of butter that is produced from them.
Butter is required to prepare ghee. Traditionally, butter is churned in 2 ways:
- Homemade yogurt or curd (as is known in India) is churned in a clay pot with a wooden hand churner. Time consuming, but nevertheless very rewarding.
- Collect the cream that settles on top of whole milk. Keep the cream refrigerated at all times. When you have enough to prepare the butter, add a couple of tablespoons of yogurt/curd to the cream and let it ferment overnight. After the cream has turned sour, add it to a blender/food processor along with some water and blend. You will notice the butter separating from the buttermilk. Strain it and use it for making ghee or in other ways butter is used. (Do not throw the buttermilk. Spice it up with salt, ginger, green chilies and curry leaves and you have a drink that is great for digestion.)
Since I do not have access to good free-range, grass fed milk, I prepare my ghee with organic butter.
- Heavy bottom pan
- Fine mesh metal strainer
- Clean, sterilized glass jars
- Clean ladle or spoon
- 1 pound Butter (unsalted organic or grass fed butter, if using store bought)*
Place the butter in a heavy bottom saucepan or wok on medium heat and let it melt slowly.
Once it has melted, you will notice the milk solids floating on the surface . You can skim the milk solids, if you wish. But this is not necessary.
Reduce the heat a little and let it continue to boil. Once it starts bubbling, the water contents starts evaporating and the milk solids will settle at the bottom of the pan till it turns a golden brown colour. Make sure you are close to the pan as it can burn very easily.
Wait till it cools a little. Strain the ghee through a metal strainer into clean glass jars.
Note: Always store ghee at room temperature. Do not store it in the refrigerator as then the ghee turns into saturated fat. Use a clean and dry spoon while using the ghee as any moisture will cause it to go stale. You can safely consume ghee if you lactose intolerant as the milk solids have been removed.