Ghee is an amazing substance with countless benefits to our body and mind. It has been used in Ayurveda for thousands of years due to its numerous medicinal properties.
Ghee is highly clarified butter. It is made by cooking butter until the water has evaporated, and then removing the dairy solids. Research shows that ghee contains the least saturated fat of any fatty substance. The process of making ghee removes 100% of the hydrogenated fats and 75% of the saturated fats from the butter. Unlike butter, ghee helps to stimulate the healthy flow of fluids throughout the body. Butter can congest; ghee removes blockages. No other substance stimulates the flow of bodily fluids as ghee does.
Ghee is good for vata because it is unctuous, good for pitta because it is cooling, and good for kapha because it carries the properties of the herbs and spices that are cooked with it deep into the tissues of the body. Ghee nourishes the body and feeds the tissues on every level, including the building of ojas (the root of our well being and immunity).
Benefits: ghee increases digestive fire and improves absorption and assimilation, strengthens the brain and nervous system, and improves memory. It lubricates joints and connective tissue and makes the body more flexible. It strengthens the immune system while decreasing heat, acidity and inflammation that occurs due to excess pitta. Many people are concerned that the use of ghee will increase their cholesterol or add unnecessary amounts of fat to their diet. Used in the context of a healthy lifestyle, this is quite unlikely to occur. If abused, it could. Adding a little ghee to rice, steamed vegetables, or hot organic milk is likely to help. Making rich desserts daily with ghee is unlikely to have the desired effect. We must use it with common sense and prudence. It’s not necessary to refrigerate ghee. If you do, it can slow its positive actions somewhat. Ghee may be used in cooking- it has a very high “smoke point”.
How to Make Ghee
1. Start with one pound of unsalted butter (preferably organic).
2. Place butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat for about 10 minutes, stirring
occasionally with a clean, dry spoon to prevent sizzling or browning until all butter melts.
3. When the butter has melted, increase heat and bring to a boil.
4. Once the surface is covered with froth/foam, stir one last time and reduce heat to very low.
5. Simmer, undisturbed, uncovered, until solids have sunk to bottom and turned from white to
golden brown and a thin crust of transparent butterfat remains on the surface. Ghee will smell
like movie theater popcorn at about this time, and it will grow quiet with just a mere rumbling,
6. Allow ghee to cool for approx. 1/2 hour so that you can handle the pan without burning
7. Slowly and carefully, remove pan from heat and without disturbing the solids that have
collected on the bottom. Pour the liquid through a sieve lined with triple-layered cheesecloth or
single muslin cloth or my favorite unbleached paper towel). Place the sieve over a kitchen
funnel. Pour into a sterile, dry, wide-mouthed glass jar/container (such as mason jar). Avoid
disturbing solids at the bottom.
8. You can keep the bottom solids for adding to soups, sandwich spreads, veggie dishes, etc.,
but they must be stored separately and refrigerated.
9. Allow ghee to cool completely (to room temperature) before adding lid. Then, cover tightly
and store at room temperature in a cool, dry, dark place. Can be stored for years at a time;
10. Store ghee at room temperature. Ghee contaminates easily, so always use a clean, dry
utensil when dipping into the jar.
Water will contaminate it. If this happens, mold will grow on the surface; simply scrape it off and continue to use. Since this process of cooking the butter removes all the water, if you undercook ghee, it will mold easily; however, overcooked it will burn. A touch of light browning, on the other hand, can lend a delicate flavor. Once you perfect this recipe, you will get to enjoy a healthy fat that resembles liquid gold and is the preferred unctuous medicine used in Ayurveda. again and Enjoy!
Article by Eleni Tsikrikas, www.bellymindinstitute.com
Excerpted from “Ayurvedic Cooking for Westerners,” by Amadea Morningstar