RECIPE: How we make Ghee

My first ghee experience was with my Key West friend Hansa. I may have mentioned that when I’m in Key West, I somehow always find myself around her neck of woods at lunchtime. It’s uncanny. I don’t think I land there on purpose… it’s subconscious, really. If you’d ever eaten at Hansa’s, trust me, you would, too. She’s a fantastic cook and, oh my goodness, the smells, the spices, the flavors. I could move right in. (I think her family is afraid I might!)

On one of my first visits, she brushed a golden oily liquid from a silvery container onto my homemade naan. (Just so you know, everything at Hansa’s house is mysterious.) It was soooo delicious. As usual, I asked her what I was eating and, as usual, she looked at me like I just landed from the moon and said, “Ghee.” When I stared at her blankly (as usual), she said, “Butter.” She keeps forgetting I’m a girl from fried-chicken-and-mashed-potatoes country living (at that time) on a bacon-egg-and-cheese-on-Cuban-toast island. How would I know from “ghee”?

Hansa always has ghee to go with the naan to scoop up the chickpeas and spinach and soups and chutneys and yogurts and pickles… I have no idea what the actual names of any of the foods are. I just know I can’t stay away from it! I must have been Indian in a former life. Gotta be. Thank you, Hansa, for introducing me to ghee. I am forever grateful.

Imagine my delight, when we went off to Costa Rica and stumbled onto the WAPF way of eating, to discover that Dr. Price deems butter a superfood. Perfecto! I started making it immediately, and it couldn’t be easier. Here’s how (there’s a video at the bottom in case you’d rather watch):

How to Make Ghee

Put two pounds of unsalted butter* in a small stainless saucepan. Melt the butter on medium high heat. When it starts bubbling, turn it down to medium low and cook it till the top gets crusty and the butter is no longer yellow, but golden. You can even let it go till it gets a little toasty brownish. That’s how I like it, really, but Hal doesn’t like the toasty flavor.

On our gas stove, this takes about 40 minutes. I set my timer for 10 minute intervals and check it often.

Once it’s cooked and while still hot, I pour the concoction through a muslin bag into a quart canning jar (perfect fit!) and let it cool. In a hot kitchen, it will stay liquid; in cooler climes, it hardens.

I put the canning jar into an extra pan while pouring just in case the canning jar breaks. That ghee is HOT! I’m just paranoid: these canning jars are made to be boiled so the chance of breakage is slim to none.

We leave it on the counter all the time. A quart lasts about a month. When there are no flies, we leave it with the top off and a spoon in it, ready to go. But, then, we are terribly casual…

The crusty top and the burned stuff in the bottom of the pan, all of which you are discarding, is what’s left of the milk solids. What you have in the jar is pure butter oil, the superfood fat!

Ghee is great for cooking because, since there are no milk solids to burn, it has a high smoking point and doesn’t allow food to stick quite as much. Cook with it, eat it on toast, in oatmeal, anything really. I love the flavor! Yummy.

Is it Clarified or Is it Ghee?

I’m still not sure what the difference is between clarified butter and ghee. Or if there’s a difference. Many people use the terms interchangeably, calling them one and the same. Some sites say it’s only ghee when it’s toasty but Hansa’s is not toasty tasting and I’m going to consider hers the authentic version. Some sites say clarified butter is just melted butter… I have no clue. I’m not sure it really makes a big difference to me other than I like knowing the details. Do you know? If you do, please enlighten us — thank you!

 *We use the 365 brand of butter from Whole Foods @ $2.99 a pound which has no rGBH growth hormone. I’d love to only use grass-fed hormone-free prophylactic-antibiotic-free butter but that’s $6/pound and up. Someday… when I have my own cow!!!

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7 comments to RECIPE: How we make Ghee

  • robin

    Good to know. Ghee is $10./jar here… I’ll have to price it out not having a WF here or anything for less expensive butter it might not really pay to make it since we buy the $6ish stuff – it’s either that or the reg store bought icky stuff.
    I mean I just got terribly excited b/c we were out closer to KC today and I found carrots w/ their tops still on! We can’t get that here. :)

  • Yikes, $10 a jar. As long as you aren’t allergic to milk, then, what the heck, eat the butter. If I had to choose between coconut oil and ghee, I’d take the coco oil (as long as you still got to have butter). Lol with your carrots! That’s funny.

    I got an email from Coleman Heckart, and you were correct that he is a real peach of a fellow. He sent me a digital copy of the Costa Rican art, and I printed it off on photo paper. It made a wonderful print. He also let me know how I could buy an original or a signed copy, which I’m considering. He just went out of his way to make my year end, and I couldn’t be more appreciative.
    Thanks for introducing us. I’ll try to connect with him when I get down to CR. It looks like I’ll be moving there, at least part-time, in the middle of 2012. That is a day I’ve been dreaming about for about 3 years, and it can’t come soon enough.
    Again, thanks for your kind help, too. I wish you a very Happy New Year, wherever you may be!
    Fred Jackson

  • Paul M.

    Okay Sally,

    I prolly shouldn’t do this but… you COULD mix clarified butter with Velveeta and maybe call it -oh, say,


    (Never mind!)


  • Evil, Paul. Pure evil!!!!

  • Cathleen Caffrey

    I like your site a lot.

    I only wish the ghee recipe had included ALL the information in the video. It doesn’t say you should pour the ghee in a jar while stilll boiling how. Nor does it suggest putting jar in a pan in case of breakage. Seeing the picture helped understand. But once I’ve printed out the recipe, I won’t have the video in front of me.

    I would have sent this as a private email if I could have found your address.

  • I will add it all in — thank you for pointing that out. The devil is in the details!!!

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