Ghee is nothing but good old butter, stripped out of all the milk solids by a lengthy cooking process. That is the reason it is known as Clarified Butter. Freshly made ghee is liquid, and has a clear oil-kind look. But when kept at room temperature, it coagulates into a semi-solid texture that is white in color. It can always be preserved at room temperature, and does not need to be refrigerated at all, contrary to what many people seem to think.
How To Make Ghee (Clarified Butter) At Home
[photo courtesy of FineCooking]
What You Will Need
1 pound unsalted full-fat butter (organic if available)
A large sieve
2 sheets of cheesecloth or muslin
A thick heavy-bottomed deep wok
A glass jar with lid (to store the ghee)
Melt the butter over low heat gradually in the heavy-bottomed pot. Do not stir. Let it melt on its own till it gets totally liquid.
Maintaining low heat, cook the melted butter until it is a clear golden liquid, about 20-30 minutes. It may bubble some, and a foam may form on top, so take a deep wok so that it doesn’t spill out while boiling. You’ll see that light brown solids will form on the top and then settle at bottom of the pan. You can skim off and discard the thick white foam that forms a layer on the top if you like.
When the liquid takes on a clear golden color, another 20 minutes or so, remove from heat and set aside. Do not let it turn dark brown in color, which means you have burnt it! Its still usable, but will have a characteristic smell.
Line the sieve with the cheesecloth and place over a clean dry pot. While still hot, carefully strain the ghee through the cheesecloth-lined sieve into a clean, dry pot.
Transfer the strained ghee carefully into the clean glass jar. Let it cool down just a little, then close the lid and shut it tightly.
Note: Some people also discard the brown residue, which is actually milk solids. But this is the good fat, so instead of discarding it, remove it from the ghee and crumble it all together. Then add some sugar and a bit of Cardamom powder and press into a greased plate. Let it cool in the refrigerator, then slice it into cubes and you have a delicious Indian sweet ready at your disposal!
As I mentioned earlier, Ghee can always be stored at room temperature, and does not need to be refrigerated. it will attain a white semi-solid texture, which will break down into a clear liquid once you heat it. Ghee can stay fresh for as long as 2-3 months, but I would recommend making it in small batches if you are not too keen about using old ghee.
Health Benefits of Using Ghee
Ghee stimulates the digestion while balancing stomach acid, is cooling for the mind and body, and helps carry the benefits of different foods to the cells and tissues of the body. The therapeutic value of spices is brought out in ayurvedic cooking by saute-ing them in a little ghee. Ghee also brings out the aroma and flavor of many foods.
Cooking with Ghee
Ghee can be used almost anywhere that you use oil, but it is especially great in making Indian curries and gravies
1. Add a tablespoon of ghee to Indian curries, Dals, or Kadhhi while sauteeing the spices for a fragrant aroma and taste
2. Add ghee to cooked rice for a wonderful taste
3. Layer your Naans, Rotis or Parathas with ghee for that royal effect
4. Use it generously to prepare any Indian sweet or dessert. Nothing comes close to the taste of pure ghee sweets!
Ghee is a very healthy fat, unlike regular cooking oil. Restrained use of ghee in your cooking can actually do good to your body, and is even great tonic for your skin. Its generally expensive to buy Ghee at an Indian store, but now that you know how to make Ghee at home, you’ll be saving some moolah, for sure!