Ghee, or purified butter is the Mother of all healthy fats. While in the West we’ve had a complicated relationship with fat and butter, In India this healthy fat is used as both food and medicine to nourish the body’s tissues, cleanse toxins, improve eye health, lower cholesterol and promote general vitality. This magical fat also increases vitamin absorbency and aids the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals from other foods, strengthening the immune system.
The idea of using fat to detox is so far removed from Western reasoning that it seems at first to defy logic. But studies have shown that the Ayurvedic methodology holds true — the best way to remove fat-soluble toxins from the tissues is with fat itself. When it comes to dairy allergies, ghee is produced when butter is clarified, meaning all but trace amounts of lactose and casein are removed so it doesn't have the problematic proteins or the milk sugar lactose. Also, it is rich in butyric acid, a fatty acid which is believed to prevent cancers and tumors, which is great for healing the gut. And if you're like me, when one is experiencing sensitivities or allergies to food, it is pretty likely your gut needs some love!
When making your own (my mom's recipe is below for tips!) keep in mind that while ghee is sometimes called clarified butter, they are not the same. While the process in making the two are the same, ghee is cooked a little longer giving the butterfat a deeper flavor and ensures all the moisture and milk solids are removed. Ghee has a very long shelf life and does not need refrigeration. It will solidify at room temperature but is easily spreadable.
What You Need to Start
- 1 pound unsalted butter (Organic is good, grass-fed is better)
- Stainless steel pot
- Cheese cloth
- Glass jar
Put your butter in the pot, and over medium heat, melt the butter. (Refrain from turning up the heat to make it melt faster!)
Once all the butter is melted, you will notice three layers forming, a foamy layer on the top, a butterfat layer in the middle and solids starting to fall to the bottom of the pan. The butter is then going to start to erupt like little volcanoes. Turn the heat down to medium-low so the butter doesn't burn.
Once the butter is done erupting, it should be at a nice low boil. Swirl the butter around and take note of what has settled to the bottom of the pan. Those are the milk solids which you want to “brown” but not to burn.
With a spoon, remove the foam from the top. It will seem like the foam is never-ending, but take heart, it does end! There might also be a few more butter eruptions, which is fine; it’s the milk solids browning on the bottom of the pan.
It is now time to strain the butter.
Place the mesh sieve over the glass jar and line the sieve with the cheesecloth. Then go ahead and pour the liquid, slowly, into the sieve.
You now have purified, healing ghee. Pure Indian Foods offers great ideas on how/where/when to use this versatile fat. (Quick answer: Always and on everything!)