Making ghee or clarified butter at home is easy, delicious, and much more budget-friendly than buying it. I use this liquid gold for everything!
Growing up in rural Illinois, everything is better with butter. When I started eating more Whole30 and Paleo I was nervous I’d have to go without my favorite fat. It was an o-m-ghee moment when I learned about ghee. It’s liquid gold! It’s also priced like gold at any grocery store or supermarket. Homemade ghee costs a fraction of the price and allows you to control the quality of ingredients. Butter actually freezes beautifully, and ghee has a long shelf life. So you can stock up when butter is on sale, splurge on pasture-raised butter if your budget allows, or buy your favorite brand based on taste!
What’s the difference between Ghee and Clarified butter?
Clarified butter simply cooked until the water evaporates and the solids separate. Then the milk solids are removed. Ghee cooks for longer until the milk solids become toasted, deeper in color, and the oil becomes more nutty in flavor. The milk solids are also removed.
Dr. Vickie Bhatia guest contributed the following thoughts on the cultural significance of ghee. To learn more about Dr. Vickie Bhatia, visit her website. I would also highly recommend you follow her on Instagram.
Although ghee has been popularized by paleo, keto, and Whole30 approaches in recent years, ghee originated in India* dating back to at least 1500 BCE. Ghee is mentioned in the sacred Hinduism texts and scripture and holds cultural and religious significance.
Ghee appears in Hindu mythology – it is said that Prajapati, the Lord of Creatures, created ghee by rubbing his hands together, and he poured that ghee into fire in order to create his offspring. Thus, ghee is tied to the divine, which is one of the reasons that Hindus pour ghee into sacred fires marking significant events in life, such as birth, marriage, and death. Ghee is often used to light candles and holy lamps in Hindu temples, and during certain religious ceremonies and festivals, food is intentionally cooked in ghee as a way of connecting to the deities. Furthermore, in Hinduism, cows are considered sacred, as is the dairy produced from their milk. Therefore, ghee is held in high regard and is considered a food of the Gods, both in personal consumption as well as offerings to the Gods on their altars.
Ghee has been used in Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine) cooking and treatments for thousands of years. In Ayurvedic tradition, ghee is known to be anti-inflammatory, have digestive and mental health benefits, and nourish the nervous system.
Importantly, ghee is not simply clarified butter! There is a difference (at least to Indians)! Ghee is cooked longer than clarified butter, which gives it its signature rich, nutty, and caramelized flavor. The removal of the perishable milk solids allows ghee to be shelf-stable – something that is particularly beneficial in a hot and tropical environment! And, if you ever travel around the different regions of India, you might notice that ghee tastes different based on the type of milk used (i.e., cow milk, buffalo milk, goat milk). If you haven’t tried making your own ghee, I highly recommend it. It requires patience, but it is easy and the flavor of homemade ghee is fantastic!
*The Indian subcontinent at that time consisted of modern-day India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, as well as parts of Southeast Asia, and the Middle East.
- Glass container for storing
- Cheesecloth or nut milk bag
- 1 lb butter
- Slice the butter into cubes and place in a pot on medium heat.
- Melt the butter and bring to a simmer. Stir occasionally to ensure even melting.
- After several minutes, foam will appear and there will be spattering.
- Using a spoon, skim off the foam. Repeat as needed until most of the foam is removed.
- Continue cooking the clarified butter on low until it deepens in color and becomes fragrant, about another 15 minutes. The milk solids on the bottom of the pan will become dark golden brown.
- At this stage, turn off the heat and let it cool for a few minutes. Then strain the ghee through a cheesecloth into a glass storage container.
What tools do I need to make ghee?
- Using cheesecloth is a great way to strain the milk solids out of the ghee. I use Regency Wraps Natural Ultra Fine Cheesecloth because they can be easily cut to the size of my jar. I find them easily in large supermarkets and that store with a bullseye logo.
- I like to use a jar just slightly bigger than the base of the stick blender. Weck 742 Mold Jars are perfect! I use them to store dry goods in my pantry as well.
How long can I store ghee for?
If you like a softer, more spreadable Ghee, a jar can be kept on counter top for 3 months. Ghee can be stored in a cool, dark, not-necessarily-refrigerated place for 9 months. In the refrigerator, it can be kept for up to 1 year.