“Ghee” aka liquid gold or butter’s better cousin, is clarified butter that has been used for centuries in traditional Indian cooking.
But it’s not just limited to Indian cuisine; its unique flavor and versatility have gained popularity worldwide.
But what exactly is ghee (clarified butter)? Let’s find out!
What is ghee?
Ghee is a type of clarified butter. It’s made by simmering butter and removing the milk solids and water content, leaving behind pure, golden goodness.
Because ghee doesn’t contain any milk solids, it can be safe to use for those with lactose intolerance. However, if you have a dairy allergy, it’s best to exercise caution.
Ghee is typically solid at room temperature, just like butter. However, it has a lower melting point than butter, which means it quickly transforms into a liquid when heated.
Ghee is commonly used in Indian curries, rice dishes, desserts, and even in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
How is ghee made?
Ghee is made solely from butter, which is derived from milk. Too make ghee, butter is simmered until the water content evaporates, and the milk solids separate from the butterfat.
Once the butter has clarified, it is carefully strained to remove any remaining solids.
This results in pure, smooth flavorful fat (ghee) that is free from impurities. It’s a labor of love that requires patience but is well worth the effort!
What’s the difference between ghee and butter?
Ghee and butter may come from the same source, but have some differences worth noting…
Ghee is essentially butter that has been clarified, meaning the milk solids and water have been removed. This process gives ghee a more concentrated flavor and a higher smoke point, making it suitable for high-heat cooking methods.
You can typically use butter as a substitute for ghee (and vice versa) in most recipes. However, keep in mind that butter has a creamier taste compared to ghee, which has a nuttier, richer flavor.
In addition, ghee has a higher concentration of calories and saturated fat than butter.
Benefits of ghee
Ghee is a natural product that’s lactose-free and packed with good stuff.
First off, it’s clarified butter, which means all the impurities have been removed, including lactose. That’s good news for folks who are lactose intolerant or have sensitivity to dairy.
One of the biggest advantages is its high smoke point, which means it can be heated to higher temperatures without breaking down. That makes it perfect for cooking and frying.
Ghee also contains healthy fatty acids, including conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), which has been linked to various health benefits like reducing inflammation and supporting weight loss. Plus, it’s a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Another cool thing about ghee is that it contains butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid that can support gut health and promote a healthy digestive system.
Oh, and let’s not forget the taste! Ghee has a deliciously nutty and buttery flavor that can enhance the overall taste of your dishes, whether you’re sautéing veggies, baking cookies, or even spreading it on toast.
Ghee (clarified butter) nutrition facts
|Serving size||1 tbsp (15mL)|
|Total Fat||14 g|
The primary fat source is bolded.
How to cook and bake with ghee
As I mentioned, ghee has a high smoke point of around 480°F, allowing you to cook at higher temperatures, such sautéing, frying, and grilling.
One of my favorite things about ghee is its rich flavor that adds depth to dishes. It’s a must-have in Indian and Middle Eastern dishes! Use ghee to sauté spices for curries, create flavorful biryanis, and add richness to rice dishes.
For a simple everyday use, melt ghee in a pan for sautéing vegetables or drizzle it over freshly popped popcorn.
Ghee can also be used in place of butter or coconut oil in baking recipes, such as cookies, cakes, and pastries like galettes. You can even use ghee to grease your baking tins instead of butter or oil.
Ways to use ghee
Use ghee instead of butter and in Indian and Middle-Eastern cuisine:
- Indian curries
- Naan bread or parathas
- Roasted or stir-fried vegetables
- Butter chicken
- Ghee-roasted chicken
- Mashed potatoes
- Ghee rice
- Sauces (hollandaise, ghee sauce for fish)
- Baking (cookies, cakes, pastries)
- Spread on bread, muffins or baked goods
- Nut butters and chocolate spreads
- Popcorn topping
The possibilities are endless!
How to make ghee at home
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to make ghee at home, here are the basic instructions:
- Preheat the oven to 200°F.
- Put unsalted butter in a small bowl and place it in the preheated oven.
- Wait for around 30 minutes until the butter separates into oil and milk solids.
- Use a spoon to skim off the foam from the top of the butter.
- Line a mesh strainer with cheesecloth.
- Pour the separated butter through the strainer to remove any remaining milk solids.
- Transfer the clarified butter to a tightly covered jar and refrigerate it.
How to store ghee
Due to the removal of moisture and milk solids, ghee has a low moisture content and is less prone to spoilage compared to regular butter. This means it has a super long shelf life – about 1-2 years after opening. But that’s not to say you shouldn’t take the proper steps to keep it fresh!
If you made your own ghee, make sure to transfer it to an airtight container or jar. For store-bought ghee, leave it in its container. Find a cool and dark spot in your kitchen, like a pantry or a cabinet, away from direct sunlight.
Ghee doesn’t need refrigeration, but if your kitchen gets really hot, you can pop it in the fridge to keep it solid.
What are the best substitutes for ghee?
If you don’t have ghee on hand or prefer to use an alternative, butter is the best all-around substitute for everyday cooking. Just keep in mind the differences in texture and flavor we talked about earlier.
But you can also use other cooking oils. Macadamia oil can be a flavorful and healthy alternative to ghee, especially when used in salad dressings or as a drizzle over dishes.
But if you need a match for ghee’s high smoke point, avocado oil is better for high-temperature cooking methods.
Each substitute may bring a slightly different taste and texture to your dishes, so consider the specific recipe and adjust accordingly.
Ghee is clarified butter, which means it has been simmered to remove the milk solids and water. This gives ghee a more concentrated flavor and a higher smoke point compared to butter.
Ghee is often considered a healthier option than butter because it is lactose-free, has a higher smoke point, and contains healthy fats and essential vitamins. However, it should be consumed in moderation due to its high calorie and fat content.
Ghee is derived from butter, but it undergoes a specific process to remove the milk solids and water, resulting in a distinct product with unique properties and flavors.
Ghee is made from butter, which is churned from milk. The butter is then clarified by separating the milk solids and water, resulting in ghee.