How to make ghee

If you can melt butter on a stove you can make ghee (aka "liquid gold") - a staple in an Ayurvedic lifestyle, from cooking to self-care remedies, as well as therapeutically, both internally and externally. 

GOOD FOR

All doshas - Vata, Pitta, Kapha when consumed in moderation

READY IN

30 minutes

YIELD

About 2 cups

What is ghee or clarified butter?

Ghee is a staple in most Indian homes. Also known as “liquid gold,” ghee is the secret to many tasty Indian curries, the crispiness behind pan-fried foods, and the delicious butteriness of Indian bread such as naan. These days you can even find it in what’s known as bullet-proof coffee!

Similar to clarified butter, ghee is made by slowly cooking unsalted butter to separate the milk solids and remove the parts of butter that are difficult to digest such as lactose. And while ghee is still technically considered a dairy product, it’s one that many people with lactose intolerance or other sensitivities can enjoy. It’s also packed with healthy fats and vitamins. 

But aside from adding flavour to foods, did you know that ghee is long revered as one of the most healing substances in Ayurveda? 

Before I get into the Ayurvedic benefits and uses, and our simple recipe for homemade ghee, I'll share a bit more background and my personal connection with this golden nectar. 

And don't worry, if you don't have time to make it, ghee is now available in most supermarkets, health food stores and Asian/ Indian grocers.

Making ghee in my local ashram

The background and benefits of ghee

Growing up in a small village in Kerala, I used to help my local ashram make both ghee and yogurt. We carefully tended to the ashrams cows, and their milk formed the basis of both recipes. We used the ghee in cooking, and also as part of various Vedic ceremonies and rituals.

Ghee was considered by the ancient Seers as much more than a food substance. The word itself is derived from the base, ghr, which means “to shine.”

In the Vedic sciences, ghee is believed to hold pure or sattvic energy, supporting physical strength, a clear mind, good health and longevity. Traditionally, mantras were chanted over the pot while making the ghee to infuse the nectar with the loving energy of the mantra.    

In Ayurveda, ghee has many healing benefits, including:

  • Increasing rasa, or the bodies nourishing juices, providing ease of movement, and transport of nutrients and waste. (Hence, this golden lubricant is often used as an appetiser and to assist with digestive issues and constipation).
  • Being a fatty base, ghee increases Kapha within the body, and therefore increases the most refined by-product of Kapha— ojas (known as the essence of immunity and life)
  • Likewise, ghee can support the movement of toxins (ama) and other wastes out of the body through the digestive tract. 

How to use ghee

In Ayurveda, there are so many uses for ghee, but here are some of our favourites:

  • Ghee enhances the flavour of foods and cooks well at high temperatures, making it a great alternative to more delicate oils when sautéing or roasting vegetables. It's also a key ingredient in Ayurvedic recipes such as kitchari 
  • It's an excellent appetiser and helps to ignite the digestive fire (Agni) and stimulate digestion. Just take 1 tsp of ghee on an empty stomach first thing in the morning.
  • Use it as a gentle laxative to relieve constipation for Vata and Pitta types. Just add 2 teaspoons of ghee to a glass of hot milk.
  • The nourishing, hydrating qualities of ghee make a wonderful massage oil (particularly for dry Vata-type skin), as well as a lip balm for dry lips
  • Ingestion of ghee is a core part of cleansing treatments and panchakarma in Ayurveda (known as snehana). It has been found that many toxins have a lipophilic (fat-like) structure, allowing them to easily mix in with the ghee and move out of the tissues and body.
  • Combined with medicinal herbal remedies, it's used in Ayurveda to deliver and support the absorption of nutrients into the body's tissues
  • It's also used in various Ayurvedic treatments such as nasya (using a couple of drops in the nasal cavity) to help open emotions

Ingredients

  • For this recipe you'll need 1 kg of high-quality unsalted butter 

Instructions

  • In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt 1 kg of high-quality unsalted butter on a medium flame. The butter will begin to simmer and will make a little crackling noise.  
  • Once melted, reduce the heat to low and continue heating for around 20 minutes gently stirring in a clock-wise direction. Do not cover the pot, as it is important to boil the water out and seperate the solids. 
  • As it cooks, a foam will rise to the surface. Most of the foam will cook out itself. You don't need to remove this foam as it has medicinal benefits. A thicker, curdy sediment will also form on to the bottom of the pot which you'll later discard as it contains the impurities from the butter. 
  • At this point, you'll need to watch the ghee carefully so it doesn't burn. The butter will turn a golden hued translucent liquid and will smell a bit like popcorn. 
  • When the  foam has settled, the crackling sound has almost entirely stopped, the butter is a completely clear, beautiful golden colour through to the bottom, and there are only a few air bubbles on the surface, it is done. 
  • Remove from heat and let it cool for 20 minutes.  
  • Strain it carefully through a fine mesh strainer covered with a paper towel or several layers of cheesecloth, into a clean, glass container. Allow it to sit on the counter uncovered for another 15 minutes to continue cooling before sealing it with a lid. 
  • It may be stored at room temperature for up to one month or longer in the fridge.

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Homemade Ghee

If you can melt butter on a stove you can make ghee (aka "liquid gold") - a staple in an Ayurvedic lifestyle, from cooking to self-care remedies, as well as therapeutically, both internally and externally. 

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