Wellness Encyclopedia: The Benefits of Ghee

It doesn’t get much “butter” than ghee — a healer from the inside out, and perfect for dairy-free consumption…

Gorgeous golden hue, creamy, dreamy texture. Versatile as it is health-giving and energy-boosting. Ghee is a staple of my diet, one that nourishes from the inside out. Healing the inflammation in my joints, keeping my mind sharp and my skin glowing. But that wasn’t always the case. My first introduction to ghee (pronounced with a hard G and a long E) was, incidentally, through my first introduction to the Whole 30. Embarking on that 30-day elimination diet introduced me to more fresh ingredients than the five meager categories I had chosen to forego, among those new discoveries was the ancient ayurvedic staple of ghee.

Used for centuries in India and across the Indian subcontinent in both cooking and spiritual practices, ghee has gained wider acclaim in recent years for its health benefits. Traditionally, ghee is believed to cleanse the body and mind and promote healing from the inside out, and is even used topically to heal and nourish the skin and hair. In cooking, ghee boasts a high smoke point and is often tolerated by those who are otherwise intolerant to lactose and milk solids.

That initial Whole 30 taught me more lessons about my body and the foods I put in it than I ever expected to learn, chief among them: dairy was wreaking havoc on my system, so ghee was a game changer for me. For awhile I purchased it pre-made… until I discovered how easy and inexpensive it is to make (we’re talking half the price). Today I’m diving into what makes ghee so incredible and sharing an easy tutorial for making ghee at home. Once you learn, you’ll never want to buy it pre-made again!

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What is it? Ghee is grass fed butter that has been clarified, but allowed to cook just a little longer to bring out the rich, nutty flavor of the butter. This process removes the milk solids and water from the butter, leaving behind a rich liquid that boasts a higher smoke point than butter with none of the lactose-intolerant-triggering side effects. Because the water and milk solids have been removed, ghee can also be left at room temperature, which is how it is believed to have originated when those residing in the warmer climates of India couldn’t keep their butter from spoiling. Used for centuries in Ayurvedic practices, ghee originated on the subcontinent of India and is widely used in Indian, Pakistani, and Iranian cuisines. More recently, ghee has gained more mainstream attention for its complex nutritional profile and how easily tolerated it is by those who otherwise can’t consume dairy.

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What are the benefits? Free from casein, lactose and water, ghee is easily tolerated by people who have allergies to milk and other dairy. Because these factors have been removed, ghee also boasts a higher smoke point than butter, making it ideal for high-heat cooking. Ghee also contains about 25% short- and medium-chain fatty acids, compared to butter’s 12-15%. These fatty acids are not associated with heart disease and one of them, Butyrate, has actually been found to improve colon health by reducing inflammation in the digestive tract. Ghee made from organic grass fed butter aso contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), which may help lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure. As if those weren’t reasons enough to love ghee, this gorgeous golden substance also boasts a unique vitamin profile, including K2, which builds strong bones, and vitamins A, D and E. Have acid reflux? Ghee might be able to help as it increases gastric acid and improves digestion. Arthritis? Ghee lubricates the joints and reduces inflammation. Basically, we should all be eating more ghee.

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How do I use it? The best thing about ghee? You can use it the same exact way you would use butter or oil. Spread it on toast, cook with it, bake with it, saute, simmer and roast. Add it to your morning coffee to make a Bulletproof, or try the same thing with chai tea!

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How to Make Ghee

Ingredients & Tools:

1 lb. grass fed butter (Kerrygold is my favorite and widely available at most grocery stores)

Small pot or double boiler

Cheesecloth or fine mesh strainer

Glass jar with lid

Place the unwrapped butter in the pot and heat on medium-low heat. After about 20 minutes, you’ll notice the butter begin to separate into three layers: foam on the top, liquid in the middle, and solids on the bottom.

Continue heating until you see the milk solids begin to turn light brown and the liquid turns a deep golden color. Remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.

Pour the melted butter through the cheesecloth or a fine mesh strainer into the glass jar. Discard any remaining solids left in the cheesecloth or strainer. Allow the ghee to cool completely before covering the jar with a lid.

Ghee may be left at room temperature as long as there’s no water present for up to six months, or refrigerated.

+ Do you have tips for using ghee? Please share in the comments!

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Comments

  1. Ghee is a staple in my diet, I cook with it at least three times a day. I love the taste and the health benefits are unreal! Definitely going to try making it as $12 for a small jar may start to get steep… love this tutorial thank you!

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