my love affair with clarified butter
For all my friends and family reading this, you already know I have a borderline abnormal obsession with a certain clarified butter known as ghee. I have been known to disgust my husband by dipping a slice of brown rice tortilla (thank you trader joe’s!) into a jar of ghee a little too heartily from time to time (okay, these days on the daily), and I’m here to say I am not ashamed!
As a vegan-ish eater myself, I think partaking of a few animal fats here and there that I find nourishing is a very healthy activity. And, I have some research to back up my (very strong) ghee cravings.
Now many of you may have already seen the whole butter is back trend and yes, I LOVE me some good quality, farm fresh butter (we are not talking about Land-O-Lakes people). But I’m here to sing the praises of clarified butter and more specifically ghee. And potentially teach you a thing or two about it in the process. For all those who want to speed this up – short version of why I love ghee? Butter contains dairy, casein and lactose. These factors are potentially harmful to one’s health (especially the much debated casein). Ghee on the other hand is produced by cooking and removing those common allergens.
Now for the long version.
First things first – what the heck is this ‘golden elixir of healing and how is it different from normal butter? Butter is made by separating cream from milk. Since the cream portion of the milk is fat-based it is lighter than the water /milk solids portion and rises to the top (or is spun to the top to speed up this process). Once the cream has been separated from the milk it is churned until it reaches the state we know as butter. Clarified butter is taken a step further. You can think of it as another iteration of separating of milk solids. It is when you take the butter product, melt it over low heat until all the water has boiled off, the milk solids have settled to the bottom and froth has floated on top. Ghee is found by removing the froth and then scooping (or pouring) off what’s left being careful to leave the milk protein on the bottom of the pan as it is basically pure cholesterol. Clarified butter is typically cooked for a shorter time than ghee and so not all the water and solids are removed making it less ‘medicinal, and flavorful and giving it a shorter shelf-life’ according to chef Rebecca Wood. So ghee is the goal people.
So why is ghee so great? There are many many reasons as to why I think enjoying moderate amounts of this golden food is great (besides the creamy, dreamy taste). But here are a few favorites:
- Great for cooking! Since ghee has a super high smoke point (375 degrees F) it doesn’t burn or splatter easily. It also has a chemical structure that is more stable than other oils when heated
- Easy storage – ghee can go weeks without refrigeration (to my husband’s dismay) as it has a very low moisture content. It can last up to 6 months or so in the fridge or up to a year in a freezer according to the Ayurvedic Institute. Just make sure it’s stored covered in a cool place and isn’t mixed with anything
- Alkalizing – more to come on what this is and why it’s important in future posts. But just know, a body that tends to be more alkaline is essential for good health as it reduces inflammation and leads to a rejuvenation and healing of all systems of the body. Ghee has a slight alkalizing effect on the body while butter has a slightly acidifying effect
- Tasty – I think this golden substance is true deliciousness. It is definitely a richer taste than butter but that means you can get away with using a little less – 1 tablespoon can replace up to 3 tablespoons of oil or butter in recipes.
- Digestion – the process of cooking off and the removing milk solids from butter actually burns off its lactose and cholesterol (according to Holistic Chef Shani Cranston of hOMe Grown Living Foods). Thus this is a great alternative for folks avoiding dairy
- Anti-inflammatory – according to ancient Indian healing systems of Ayurveda ghee is an extremely anti-inflammatory food and is a powerful tool in whole body healing (whether it’s used for skin and eye health, lubricating your joints, alkalizing your blood, balancing one’s hormones, or helping move along digestion)
- Full of goodness – Ghee contains omega 3 and omega 9 essential fatty acids as well as Vitamins A, D, E, and K. When Ghee is made from organic butter of pastured cows (always go for organic here!!) it is a natural source of CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid) which may help increase your metabolic rate, boost immunity and keep your cholesterol in check. CLA cannot be produced in the human body and is only found in dairy and animal fats.
Want to buy? I recommend ALWAYS going organic and pastured (or grass fed) cows when possible. My favorite brand of the moment is purity farms ghee.
Want to make your own? Holistic Chef Shani Cranston shares her step by step guide below:
**please note – it is really important make ghee from cultured, unsalted, organic butter.
Makes 2 cups
- Melt 1 pound of unsalted butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 3 or 4 cloves if you wish. This will aid in the clarification and lend a delicate flavor.
- As soon as the butter begins to boil and foam, reduce the heat to a simmer. Keep the melted butter at a steady simmer until it is golden in color and no foam remains on top.
- When the crackling sound stops, the ghee is ready.
- Cool the mixture and strain it into a sterile quart jar. Discard the curds from the bottom, as they are almost pure cholesterol.
· Whfoods.org: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=newtip&dbid=9
· Ancient Organics http://www.ancientorganics.com/about-our-ghee/
· Sara Gottfrired, MD http://www.saragottfriedmd.com/glee-over-ghee-2/
· Experience L!fe: http://experiencelife.com/article/cla-can-this-fatty-acid-help-you-get-thin/