How to Make Ghee aka Clarified Butter
Ghee is an absolute staple in my kitchen. From it’s smooth velvety taste to it’s high smoke point, it’s uses are endless. My love affair with ghee began only about a year ago. I was starting to experiment with Indian cooking at home and all the recipes I found were calling for ghee. What was this mystical substance? After doing some research I knew I needed to get my hands on some. Ghee is clarified butter. It’s made by taking regular store bought butter (or if your very industrious – home churned butter), melting it down and then skimming off all of the milk solids. As someone who’s had a mixed love affair with dairy over the years and who now almost completely avoids it, this was very intriguing to me. Butter without dairy proteins like casein? Sounds too good to be true but it’s not.
I’ve always bought my ghee from the store but for the purposes of this post I wanted to try and make it myself for the first time. Now I’ve realized that not only is it more cost efficient to make your own, it’s actually kind of fun and pretty simple. My ghee turned out amazing but I’m not going to lie, I had a few oil spills. Nothing a little elbow grease couldn’t clean up , I learnt a few important lessons to keep it clean next time and now I’m hooked on making my own.
Quality is VERY Important
When selecting butter to make ghee or choosing which ghee/clarified butter to purchase you must consider the quality of the animal that produced the milk. Ideally you want organic cows that have not been treated with antibiotics or growth hormones and which have not been routinely exposed to heavy metals, pesticides and other environmental toxins – some of which are fat soluble which means they get into the meat and into the milk. You also want to choose milk from cows that were pastured, this means they were allowed to roam free and eat grass, weeds and other natural foliage, in other words, their natural diet. The ghee I linked to for purchase states “Grass-fed and Pasture raised cows-free of antibiotics & growth hormones” – perfect! When you’re choosing butter to make your ghee from you want to look for the same high quality or there’s really no point clarifying it.
Step by Step How to Make Ghee aka Clarified Butter
Step 1. Buy lots of organic grass fed butter. Measurements don’t matter at all so do as much or as little as you want. Expect to loose 25% of the butter in the skimming process. This stuff lasts forever, especially when stored in the fridge, so making it in bulk is a great idea. I went with Kerrygold grass-fed butter from Ireland. I didn’t realize until I brought it home that most recipes suggest using UNSALTED and adding salt back in after it’s clarified, but they did state that salted is also fine as long as it’s high quality butter.
Step 2: Melt it down. Put all your butter into a heavy bottom pan on medium heat and let it slowly melt. You want it to come to a boil so you may need to raise the temperature a bit to get it going. Once it’s come to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low so that it stays at a low simmer.
Step 3: At no point during this process should you stir the butter or put the lid on it. You’ll notice a white foam bubbling to the surface of the butter – this is the milk protein – skim it off careful not to take any of the clear liquid. You’ll need to do this multiple times over the 45 minutes the mixture is at a low simmer.
Step 4: Come back to your butter every 10 minutes or so and continue to remove the top layer of foam. You will start to notice white solids forming at the bottom of the pan as well. As I said before, do not stir or disturb this white gunk, only remove the top film.
Step 5: After about 45 minutes your house will smell amazing. At this point you’ll want to turn off the heat and let the mixture cool slightly before straining it through a cheesecloth, coffee filter or in my case, paper towel. You’ll be able to see all the left over milk protein at the bottom of the pot, this can be discarded.
Step 6: Carefully transfer the strained liquid into a mason jar or other glass container for storage (this is where I had my huge oil spill so make sure your mixture isn’t so hot you’ll burn yourself if you have an accident). You can keep it in the fridge or leave it on the counter. The mixture will harden and turn white when cold so don’t freak out, this is normal. Depending on the room temperature you can have a completely runny liquid, a completely hardened mass or something in between which is my favorite to work with because it’s very easy to spread.
You can clearly see here the difference between the clarified butter (aka ghee) and the milk solids that were removed. By removing these milk solids not only are we left with delicious golden butterfat, the product is also much more easily digested by people with lactose allergies. This product has a very high smoke point and a very long shelf life making it perfect in any kitchen.
Now go get your ghee on and let me know how it goes in the comments below.
With greasy fingers,