What Is Ghee Butter?
Ghee butter is not a new solution to low-fat cooking, yet an ancient healing food used in India for thousands of years. It is clarified butter, and a major component of Ayurvedic medicine, where it is considered an all-around balancing, medicinal food. It is made form regular, unsalted butter, yet with ghee the lactose and milk solids are removed, eliminating some of the saturated fatty acids and hard to digest milk solids of regular butter. Still, ghee retains a delicious, creamy, buttery flavor, making it an ideal medium for enhancing the flavor of food, without adding saturated fat and cholesterol to the diet.
Ghee Nutrition and Health Benefits
Cooking with clarified ghee is more nutritious than cooking with regular butter, and is just as healthy if not healthier than some vegetable oils. Butter and milk fat is rich in cholesterol and saturated fat, which in small amounts are beneficial. A build-up of cholesterol in the body however, is a major risk factor for artherosclerosis. Vegetable oils, while excellent when raw and minimally processed, become less beneficial when exposed to high heats or processing because their molecular structure is not as stable as the saturated fatty acids of butter. Ghee can be used to cook foods at high temperatures, without the worry of excess cholesterol, with the same rich characteristics of butter.
Ghee butter also increases the body’s absorption of nutrients. The health benefits of herbs and vegetables are enhanced when consumed with ghee as its lipid-based make-up can easily penetrate through lipid-based cell walls. In Ayurvedic medicine, ghee is often used as a medium for the healing qualities of herbs. It is considered a natural treatment for digestion and healing, and assists the body’s natural process of detoxification.
Ghee — How to Make It at Home
Ghee can be purchased in most health food stores, but it is also easy to make at home. Heat one pound of unsalted butter over a medium heat. Once it melts, allow the butter to cook for another ten or twelve minutes, forming a froth and boiling softly, before reducing the heat to low. The butter should be a golden yellow color, and smell like buttery popcorn. This healthier form of butter is officially done when a little water crackles when dropped in the pan. Let it cool, and then strain out all of the milk solids, either through a fine sieve, or scoop out with a soon. Pour ghee in a container for storage, a glass jar works well. Ghee butter does not need to be refrigerated.
Lad, Dr. Vasant. “Ayurveda: The Science of Self-Healing.” (Lotus Press, 1984).
photo credit: Jessica FM