Ghee is used in many Indian recipes and is one of the best cooking fats you can find. It does not oxidise when heated, as do most vegetable oils (oxidisation can lead to free-radicals floating round your body – not exactly desirable).
Ghee has marvellous properties and is highly regarded, both as a nutrient and as a preservative for foods and medicines. It is considered, by Ayurveda, to carry the the nutritional components of the food it is cooked with, deep into the body tissues. Ayurveda also considered ghee to be food for the brain and a rejuvenator. Its flavour is quite unique, and it lifts and enhances any dish.
Oil and fats, in general, take quite a bit of digesting and should always be taken in moderation. Ghee is easier to digest than other fats or oils yet, as with other oils and fats, you should still limit the quantity you eat. Just because it is good for you, having more won’t necessarily do you more good. Too much ghee dulls the digestive fire and this can lead to the accumulation of a toxic build-up called Ama. Small amounts of ghee in your diet actually stimulates your digestion.
- Put several blocks of organic unsalted butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan – organic butter is best, as the cows will be grass-fed and the butter high in Omega-3 and other essential nutrients.
- When melted, the butter should not fill the pan by more than a half, or it may boil over during cooking.
- Bring the butter to the boil until it is fully melted, and then lower the heat to the minimum so that the butter simmers slowly
- Simmer the liquid gently, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to ensure it does not stick to the pan – the slower you cook the melted butter, the better the quality of the resulting Ghee.
- If you have a cooking thermometer place it in the pan to measure the heat of the butter. Until the water within the butter is completely evaporated, the temperature will remain at slightly above water temperature (100C)
- When all water is completely evaporated away from the liquid, the temperature will suddenly rise to 110C and upwards. Quickly take the pan off the heat at this point, and allow it to cool for a short while.
- If you have no cooking thermometer, you can usually tell when the water has completely evaporated from the butter liquid, as there will be no steam coming up. At this point the surface may appear quite frothy, but the liquid beneath the froth will be clear and browned caramelised milk-solids will appear at the bottom of the pan. This is the time to remove the pan from the heat.
- While the ghee is still hot, filter it through a fine cloth into strong glass jars or earthenware jars.
- Cover the jars with jar lids. In the case of earthenware jars, cover with pieces of cloth or baking paper, and seal with elastic bands.
- The Ghee should be stored away from direct sunlight. It can keep in a cupboard at room temperature for up to one month, and in a fridge for up to three months.
Ideally, ghee should be eaten within a few weeks of making, though it can keep in a fridge for longer and still taste good. Old ghee is said to have medicinal uses and some ghee is kept for hundreds of years to treat certain conditions, but it would probably taste quite awful.
The residue left after filtering has its own nutritional value, though, since it consists of concentrated milk solids, it can be heavy on the digestion. Traditionally it is given to children to eat, as it is highly nutritious and helps build a young body. It can be used when making bread, cakes, biscuits, or added while cooking vegetables. The ghee residue is actually quite tasty when added to soups or stews, but is does have a heavy quality, so better for a lunchtime meal rather than in the evening.
Maharishi Ayurveda Ghee
Sometimes you just don’t have time to make your own ghee, but good quality ghee can be hard to find. Most commercial ghee is non-organic and does not have the Omega-3-rich properties that ghee from grass-fed cows has.
BioAustria organic ghee, from Maharishi Ayurveda Products, is made from organic milk and is processed in the tradition Ayurvedic way to produce the finest ghee available. The milk is supplied by cows that feed on the alpine pastures of Austria.