Ghee Whiz! How to make Ghee

Ghee on Stove

[UPDATE] CLARIFIED BUTTER IS NOT (NECESSARILY) GHEE

Ghee (is not clarified butter) or: Why Ghee is not Clarified Butter

Ghee is a type of clarified butter, but much confusion arises from equating ghee with clarified butter.

Clarified butter is a term used particularly in French cooking. It is a product where butter is melted to drive off a little of the moisture and alter the flavour slightly.

Ghee is a product where all moisture and all impure products such as salt, are eliminated from the butter and a pure oil remains. This oil has great cooking properties, superb taste and many health giving properties as well as mystical Hindu properties.

Please don’t equate ghee with clarified butter, for it is confusing for readers and cooks. Call it Ghee, and advise that they look for a good quality ghee in their supermarket or Indian grocery and not use anything labeled simply as clarified butter. Better still, advise them to make it themselves, using a good recipe that takes the butter or cream all the way to ghee.

I worked with The Mindful Foodie to understand and describe the difference. She writes:

Technically, ghee is a type of clarified butter. But it’s not just any old type of clarified butter: all milk solids (including lactose) and moisture must be removed before it can become ghee (clarified butter that still retains some moisture and milk solids is not ghee).

(Taken from one of this site’s pages: Unravelling Indian Cooking)

Make your own Ghee

This recipe was a god-send. How cool is it to make your own Ghee. I have often seen instructions for it, but was never game enough to try until Timbo, my very precious friend, demonstrated at an Ayurvedic cooking class in Sydney. Since then I make Ghee for myself and others. I have been making it for about 7 years. Yes, it does take a few practice attempts to perfect, but once you have done it you will never buy ghee again. It is SO different.

Really, it is a very simple thing. All it requires is butter and mindfulness – it does need to be watched. No leaving the kitchen while this one is cooking. And I found the end point tricky to judge the first 2 times that I made it. But after that, you are a pro. It takes about 30 minutes all up. The amount of time that it takes depends on the amount of water in the butter.

What shocks me is the amount of Junk that comes out of the butter – we normally eat this???????? Wow.

Ghee is one of the most valuable foods and medicines around. It can be used in place of butter and oil. It adds a very special flavour of its own. It is the best cooking oil – it heats to high heats without burning – and keeps indefinitely without refrigeration. In fact it is better kept out of the fridge.

Ghee is said to be the essence of a cow – first the cow produces milk, then cream is made from the milk. The best of the milk is extracted to make butter and then the best of the butter extracted to make ghee. How close to “essence of cow” is that!

And as the cow is sacred to Hindus, the eating of Ghee is a very special thing.

The making of Ghee in my kitchen on the 15th October 2007

Having said all of that, I messed it up a little this time, just when I wanted to take some photos to show you. I had seen Danyse in the morning, and she had made some and that reminded me that I needed to replenish my supply. Imaging this – butter bubbling on the stove, I am watching it but taking photos and at the same time, unpacking the dishwasher. My pantry cupboard doors are open. ALL OF A SUDDEN, a glass jar L E A P S from the top shelf, bounces several times on the floor, frightens me out of my skin, and spreads glass shards for 9 metres. Yes, N I N E metres. It must have exploded somehow. It was pretty scary. And there I was without shoes on – my typical and reverent indoor state.

So, in the fascination of that event, I ever so slightly overcooked the ghee. Actually I don’t mind, I do love the extra caramelisation that it gives the ghee, but strictly speaking it is over cooked. How can I tell? Instead of being a wonderful golden colour it is darker than it should be.

How to use Ghee

  • When cooking any Indian dish, use instead of oil or butter for sautéing or making the tadka at the end. If you cook Indian regularly, you will use it a lot.
  • Drizzle one tsp of ghee on hot cooked rice. Anything with rice tastes so much better with ghee. Try cooking rice, then stirring through a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice and a tablespoon of ghee. Yum.
  • Use it when preparing different types of fried rice.
  • Sauté spices in ghee. Many spices only release their true flavour in oil, not water.
  • On toast!
  • And on boiled potatoes.
  • Garlic roasted in ghee, spread on the bread is garlic-bread at its best.
  • In Hindu temples, ghee is burned in fire ceremonies and used to anoint the devotees.
  • Ghee is used as an internal and external remedy and also as a massage oil.

Anything with ghee is ghee-licious. You can’t go wrong.Keep in mind that ghee is not clarified butter. It goes much further than that, removing all milk solids and leaving only golden oil.

So have a go – here is the recipe. Practice and mindfulness makes perfect. And jars that refrain from leaping from your shelves.

It smells so good while it is cooking. Buttery and sweet.

Ghee – nature’s fabulous food.

ingredients
500g – 1 kg butter, unsalted organic if possible.
Optional: fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, fresh curry leaves or sea salt

equipment
Heavy bottomed and deep saucepan.
Jug that can withstand high temperatures.
Sieve / Strainer
Piece of muslin

Note
Butters will vary in content, especially water content. The amount of froth and the times it takes to make your ghee may vary. Be mindful. Watch it carefully until you are used to making it.

Unsalted butter has fewer impurities, so use it if you can. However, you can make this with your normal brand of butter too – the impurities will be expelled in the process.

Place the butter into a heavy bottomed and deep stainless steel saucepan. Over a gentle heat, melt the butter, then continue to cook it over moderate heat so that it boils gently. It will seem a bit volcanic at first as the water boils off.

Foam will rise to the surface as the milk solids separate. This can be skimmed off, but will turn brown and settle to the bottom if you don’t, anyway. I don’t bother. Continue cooking for 20 – 30 minutes or more, and you will notice a coating forming on the bottom of the pan (you may not see it through the bubbles, but trust me, it is there).

More importantly, the foaming will die down considerably. This occurs after around 20 – 25 minutes, maybe even 30 minutes. Careful attention is needed here otherwise it will burn and ruin the taste.

Watch for all foaming to cease. The ghee will boil silently with only a trace of bubbles. The colour will be pure gold, and just as it is done, a rich aroma arises. Remove from the heat. Don’t miss that aroma – a beautiful buttery, almost brown-sugary smell.

You can allow to cool slightly and then pour the ghee carefully into a clean jar or pot through a fine sieve or muslin cloth, making sure that the sticky sediment on the bottom of the pan – the cooked milk solids – remains on the bottom of the pan. This sediment is discarded.

I generally strain the ghee immediately it is ready through a muslin lined strainer into a huge and temperature-proof measuring jug. I let it cool here a little and then pour into a container. You may find that if you leave the ghee on the stove to cool, it will continue to cook in its own heat. The bottom of the pan is fairly yucky – I rinse it later and stick it in the dishwasher. The muslin gets shaken out to remove some of the solids and then gets thrown in the washing machine.

Add a couple of fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, a pinch of sea salt or some fresh curry leaves at the end for great flavour (optional).

Nourishing Indian Food says the following:

“In ancient days, betel leaves and curry leaves were usually added to the butter during the clarification process. But it is now recognized that these substances indeed possess antioxidant properties, which will not only improve the shelf life and taste of the product but also they are safe to consume. The resultant ghee has a wonderful aroma and grainy texture. Ghee implies a certain flavor profile, that continues to develop as it is stored for more than a year. So do not refrigerate ghee.”

Ghee collage

Please be careful. The ghee is very very hot when you make it. Make sure that the container that you pour it into can take the high temperatures. Also – DO NOT leave it alone while it is cooking. It is an oil, after all.

Read some more

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About Ganga108

Heat in the Kitchen, Cooking with Spirit. Temple junkie, temple builder, temple cleaner. Lover of life, people, cultures, travel. Champion of growth, change and awareness. Taker of photos. Passionate about family. Happy.
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41 Responses to Ghee Whiz! How to make Ghee

  1. Pingback: Tomato Rasam for a SPICE Hit! « Food Matters

  2. Maninas says:

    This is an amazing post – very interesting, and also evocative! I shall have to make ghee myself! I simply love it! And what a wonderful idea to stir a tbsp of ghee + lemon juice through rice! Also, I had no idea ghee is better kept out of fridge. I’ll definitely take mine out NOW! :)

    You wrote ghee is a medicine. I’m wondering, what are ghees medicinal properties? Thanks! :)

    • namita says:

      hi ………….was just browsing through pages and came across this.i am an indian and here we use ghee in most of the traditional recipes…………ghee has also lots of medicinal values……i remember my grandmom giving us (chopped ginger, black pepper and sugar sauted in ghee) to cure us from cough and cold.

  3. VegeYum says:

    Hi Maninas, glad you enjoyed it. I had a look to find info on medicinal properties and found this : “Since ghee picks up on the energy vibrations that are in the environment, you can play or sing your favorite mantra while it is cooking.” I love that, don’t you? You can cook love and joy into your ghee.

    Anyway, have a look here and here

    India /Hinduism has its own health system – Ayurveda – that divides people into combinations of three main types, called doshas. Some of the information in these posts refer to the specific needs of individual doshas. Ghee is good for vata – vatas need oil to ground them and to manage the tendency to be a bit “flighty”, for example.

    So, I hope that those sites will give you some idea.

    How can something so delicious be so good for you too?

  4. Maninas says:

    Thanks for the info, I’ll have a look there.

    I’ve heard about the division you mention. I’ll try and find out more about it. I definitely notice that some foods/dishes give me a huge boost of energy.

  5. VegeYum says:

    Hi Maninas, tonight I came across the following information and thought of you:
    I just want to add a few points on my research regarding ghee to convince you to use ghee liberally.Ghee contains butyric acid, a fatty acid with antiviral and anti-cancer properties. It also is said to aid digestion and utrient assimilation. Daily intake of ghee sharpens the intellect, and promotes a clear complexion and voice. It is also said to have anti-aging properties and most of all it doesn’t have the free radicals like other hydrogenated oils, which cause heart diseases.People allergic to milk protein can safely cook with pure ghee as the offending proteins are removed during the clarifying process.

    It is from Nourishing Indian Food

  6. Thank you very much for the procedure to make ghee. My mother used to make good ghee on her own and hence spoiled? my taste buds.So whenever I buy ghee from the shop, I find it is tasteless and flavourless.(Is that really so?) Hence I tried myself many times,but the result will be more disastrous , but I console myself that my ghee is much better than the readymade ones sold in the shops.
    Now I hope , with your step by step instructions,I will succeed.
    Instead of curry leaves,the drumstick leaves soaked in buttermilk can be used for more flavour.

    Maybe it is time to make your own, but watch it very carefully so that you don’t overcook it. Drumstick sounds very nice. They are real hard to get here.

  7. Chireen Bradshaw says:

    Thanks for your article on making ghee! I’ve heard if you make it in a double boiler (rather than direct heat) you have a much lower likelihood of it scorching. Have you tried this before? I’ll have to try and make some soon! One other question, how do you know when all the water is boiled off? Will it stop “boiling” (if kept at about 212 degrees F)? Thanks!

    I haven’t tried a double boiler – actually I don’t have trouble making it directly on the heat. But it does take careful watching.

    If you watch it carefully you will see the bubbling reduce and the oil go a lovely golden colour, with a wonderful aroma. This is the point. Be prepared to have one or two batches go wrong. Actually, I have only ever had one batch “burn” – after many years of making my own. I made it at a time when I was very busy and did not watch it enough. Morale is: make it when you have the time. It is a very meditative thing to do.

  8. Sarah downey says:

    I use patan ghee in my food regularly. It is very healthy, aromatic and with a good flavor. Cheers….

  9. Daethyme says:

    Hi, I’ve done this twice now, and both times, when that aroma comes, the ghee is a carmel color, very much like the color in the top photo on the left. I see that your bottom photo’s show a more golden yellow color. Am I missing the time of change? It tastes wonderful, not burnt, but it’s not like yours.
    Thanks for all your work and sharing.

    • Ganga108 says:

      So pleased that you are making it, Daethmye. If it tastes good, it must be Ok. Different butters will give different results, too, so the colour may vary because of that. Try stopping just a little before you do now and see what the results are like. Don’t be afraid to experiment. By the time that you have made it half a dozen times you will be doing it with your eyes closed.

  10. Claudia says:

    Thanks for sharing your tips! I especially appreciate the photos, showing the various stages of the recipe.

    I made ghee this morning, using your approach. The only difference is how I strained the ghee after it finished cooking. I used a porcelain single-cone filter cone (these are also widely available in plastic, but I personally don’t feel comfortable exposing plastic to heat), lined with an unbleached #2 paper filter, to strain the ghee right into the glass container. Afterwards, the cone went into the dishwasher and the paper filter went into the trash. No fuss, no muss :-)

  11. Anila says:

    You can add a few drops of milk in place of the beetle leaves. it gets all the particles to come down to the bottom of the vessel. you can then just transfer ghee to the container you want to sore it in. No need to filter!!

  12. Ganga: Fabulous. We make it at home all the time. And love the aroma of home made ghee. We call it “tuup” in konkani. To enhance the flavor, in Mumbai, our elders add a few leaves of tulsi. Fab.

    here, (in addition to everything you have said) I spread it over toasted blueberry raisin bread. Try it. Out of this world!

    Arun

  13. Mrudula Rao says:

    Thanks for the procedure to make ghee.. :-)

    Can u please let me know how to make ghee from milk cream[Haalina kene in kannada]

    Thanks for the same,
    Mrudula

  14. Mrudula Rao says:

    Thanks a lot for the immediate reply.. :-)

    But, is it churning the cream[as specified in that site] and then follow the remaining procedure as urs..?

    Thanks

    • Ganga108 says:

      Yes – first make butter out of the cream (the churning) and then make ghee from the butter.

    • Ganga108 says:

      Also, here is another way. It bypasses the churning (which separates out the buttermilk and solidifies the fat), and puts the cream directly on the heat to make ghee.

      “When you have collected enough cream which can be anything from 100 to 500 gms, heat a kadhai and add the cream. Let it melt on low heat. It will foam initially and then settle down. Continue to cook on low heat for 45 minutes, till all the solids have sunk to the bottom of the kadhai. Drain off the liquid part. Strain though a cloth or stainless steel mesh strainer. After a while, when cold it becomes white in colour and solid. There is no need to refrigerate the ghee.”

  15. blanche james says:

    An article I read about the benefits of ghee, had one exception, and that is if you have “high ama”! What is the definition of “high ama”? I’ve searched and have found nothing.

  16. Anshul says:

    Thanks for the lovely post.

    Please could you elaborate on high ama?
    How would one know that she has high ama? I understand that the white coating on the tongue indicates one form of ama but what if it is just a thin coating?
    What can be done if one is vata-pitta and ghee is the only oil she can use? How can the ama be removed?

    • Ganga108 says:

      Hi Anshul, I love the Ayurvedic approach to life and the wonderful knowledge that it embeds.. However, for the advice that you seek, it would be best to consult an Ayurvedic Practitioner. There are a number on the internet with blogs. Best of luck.

  17. Mathilda Chinnery says:

    wonderful publish, very informative. I ponder why the other specialists of this sector don’t realize this. You must proceed your writing. I am confident, you have a great readers’ base already!

  18. Hi Ganga. Just wanted to note that the ghee recipe mentioned here is not the ghee that is the ghee mentioned in the ayurvedic texts nor does it have the same qualities. Ghee is made from curd not just from cream.

    • Ganga108 says:

      Yes, the ancient way was to use a fermentation process to skim the cream from the milk (hence the confusion with yoghurt, it is actually a curd made from cream), then make butter from that and finally to make ghee from that butter. Here is an article that I referenced above in an answer to a similar question.

      Thanks for your valuable input. Best wishes for your continuing studies – a student of life, I like that.

  19. Michele says:

    Wonderful Info. I have made Ghee only 2 times. I follow the GAPS diet healing program, and ghee is part of that diet. My question is, how long does the butter have to simmer to separate out the impurities?

    After buying a fairly expensive organic, local and low heat pasteurized butter, I am concerned my money and efforts will be in vain if the nutrients are cooked out. Is this true? Or unfounded? I simmered it only about 10 or so minutes, skimmed off the foam and poured off the yellow oil thru a permanent coffee filter into a jar. I stopped pouring before the white stuff on the bottom could run out (it was not amber, caramelized, or burnt, but still white. I kept a small jar on counter top and a larger jar in the fridge.

    Also, if 10 min. is not enough, can i re-simmer it to further clarify it?
    thanx for the informative site.

    • Ganga108 says:

      Hi Michele, the amount of time it takes to make ghee depends on the butter. In my experience, really good butter takes less time than ordinary supermarket-bought butter. Rest assured you will not remove anything healthy by making ghee. Ghee has great properties not contained in butter. Simmer until the bubbling is ceasing and a wonderful aroma arises from the pan. Watch carefully in the last stages as it can quickly overcook.

  20. Priya says:

    I find that making ghee at home can be time consuming, but I like the home-made taste. After sampling various brands of ghee, I can simply say that the best is Ancient Organics ghee. The butter they use is higher quality that any kind I can buy in the store. The quality is even better than any home-made ghee I have made or tried. Don’t waste your money on that Purity Farms stuff, it just doesn’t compare if you want the real thing. Yum!

  21. Willow says:

    Wow – this is a WONDERFUL tutorial, and so informative. I know a lot about Ghee already, but was looking for a tutorial to link my readers to rather than go into detail myself. I was so tired of finding tutorials titled “How to make Clarified Butter (Ghee)” – argh!
    Not only will I be linking to you, but next time I make Ghee I’ll refer back here if I’ve forgotten anything. Thank you!

  22. Judy says:

    I just made ghee from freshly made butter and the first batch is carmel colored but my second batch is yellow. Did I not boil it long enough?
    Thank you!

    • Ganga108 says:

      It’s hard to tell. Have a look at it once it solidifies to see whether impurities remain – sometimes they will settle to the bottom. In either case, you can still use it, and as you gain experience in making ghee, you will learn to tell the correct end point quite easily.

      Congratulations on making ghee with fresh butter.

  23. Paige says:

    I am a stay @ home mom and wife and think both my boys need some serious intake adjustments. After reading on the GAPS program I am ready to start! Thank you so much for the “clarification” on the ghee versus clarified butter and the additions to make it more flavorful. I will keep an eye on additional posts to keep me updated!

  24. Kathleen says:

    My first attempt was a failure. Boo Hoo Turned dark brown not golden, but even it it might have tasted okay I used a nylon sieve or what was a sieve now melted. Directions should note metal or heat proof sieve for the new comers to scalding hot butter. Will try again

  25. jj says:

    wonderful sight. how thoughtful of you

  26. Wonderful tip! It is such a great cooking condiment!

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