Sorry for my absence yesterday, but I’ve just been incredibly busy.  You may notice, however, that I did manage to get the March theme up, and since green is my absolutely favorite color, I’m quite happy with it.

But onward and forward.  Today what I have isn’t so much a recipe as a procedure:  how to make Ghee.

Clarified butter and ghee are often used interchangeably, but they’re not exactly the same thing.  Clarified butter is butter that is melted and has the water and milk solids removed (and thereby removing the lactose and casein), leaving only the butterfat behind.  When prepared properly, clarified butter is more stable than standard butter containing water and milk solids – it has a higher smoking point and a longer shelf life.  (Supposedly, clarified butter will last for up to a month without refrigeration if it is kept in an airtight container, although my personal experience shows that to not necessarily be true.)

Ghee has quite a long history, as it has been used in Indian cooking for many thousands of years, and can be fairly expensive in stores.  It is merely clarified butter that is simmered for a period of time, allowing the milk solids to gently brown, giving the butterfat a slightly nutty taste and a lovely golden color – it is simply delicious.  It is also incredibly easy to make yourself, although you must watch it carefully so the milk solids do not burn.

And since the lactose and casein are (mostly) removed, it doesn’t bother me as much as standard butter does, allowing me to enjoy it occasionally.  Which makes a very happy camper – I’ve missed butter more than I realized!

Serves: 64
2 pounds of butter yields 1 quart of ghee; a serving is 1 tablespoon.
  • 2 pounds unsalted butter
  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy, non-reactive saucepan over medium-high heat and continue heating until foam begins to appear on the surface. You can skim the foam off, but it is not necessary.
  2. Lower the heat slightly, and simmer the butter for 45 to 50 minutes, or until all of the milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan and become brown, and the butterfat turns golden and has a slightly nutty fragrance.
  3. Line a mesh strainer with a triple-layer of cheesecloth, or an unbleached coffee filter, and strain the butterfat into a clean, 1-quart glass jar, taking care to keep the milk solids out of the ghee.
  4. Cool completely and cap tightly; the ghee will keep for many weeks if refrigerated.
  5. Nutrition (per serving): 102 calories, 11.5g total fat, 30.5mg cholesterol, 1.6mg sodium, 3.4mg potassium, <1g carbohydrates, 0g fiber, <1g sugar, <1g protein.


21 thoughts on “Ghee”

  1. I think I will forward this one on. My nieces are lactose intolerant, and I wonder if this would be an ok substitute? Better for them than that soy krappe, certainly.

    1. I think if the milk solids are carefully strained from the butterfat, it should be fine. Certainly much better than a soy-based margarine!

  2. Nice Jan! I wanted to note something for you as well – if you like, you can even use salted butter, as the salt solids will actually float to the top of the clarified butter – then you can just skim them off as you like. I learned this trick in restaurants where the salted butter is 25% cheaper than the unsalted stuff. Usually the pastry chefs would lose their marbles when a cook appropriates their “sweet” butter for clarified butter.

    Another trick – If you stir the mixture while it is bubbling, you will actually get about 10% more yeild from your butter. The milk solids release some of the trapped butterfat when they are agitated, before they sink to the bottom of the pot.

    Finally, a note of caution – and I am sure this is a no-brainer, but it has to be said – MAKE SURE YOU NEVER LEAVE CLARIFIED BUTTER UNATTENDED. I can’t tell you how many small fires I have put out from cooks leaving their butter unattended, thinking that since it’s on low, it’s all good. When the butter bubbles up, it can boil over super fast – and you can have a situtation very quickly.

    I know it seems like a no-brainer, but I can’t tell you how many times I have seen it happen. LOL

  3. I’ve tried filtering with a coffee filter but it doesn’t really work, the oil doesn’t go through. I ended up using a metal tea strainer. A little grit gets through but I can live with it.

    1. We use a ladle to get the clarified butter out first. If you let the mixture rest, then tilt the pot, it is much easier. That way there is NO chance any milk solids can get in the mix.

      1. Yes, but you waste a great deal of the butterfat that way. I’ve found that lining a fine-mesh strainer with a triple layer of cheesecloth works really well at keeping the milk solids out.

        1. Triple layer of cheesecloth is probably ideal but just the tea-strainer works pretty well for those of us who donn’t have cheesecloth around. And it is really about getting the oil at the bottom, most of it doesn’t need filtering at all.

  4. Damn, girl, you blow me away! Here I was thinking I was something special for making my own chicken broth, and you are making GHEE! The chicken broth turned out great, btw, thanks for the recipe!

    1. Gretchen, you’re more than welcome. 🙂 Try the ghee – it’s ridiculously easy, and will make you feel like a rock star, as Anne Burrell would say. 😉

  5. i thought this was a picture of beer! i was totally under the impression that ghee and clarified butter were the same thing. thanks for the “clarification”. (pun intended). 🙂

  6. One quick question — if you’re preparing this with unsalted butter, do you simply salt to taste each time you use it to prepare something or do you add salt to the entire batch once it’s completed so is presalted when you use it? Your posts ROCK!

    1. Kristi – I don’t care for salted butter, simply because salt is often used to mask an inferior product. Not that that’s an issue, since we buy our butter from a nearby dairy farm that grass-feeds its cows, but it’s a long-held prejudice from before my days as a ‘real food foodie.’ 🙂 So to answer your question, I leave it unsalted and salt to taste with each use. Even if I didn’t dislike salted butter I would do that, because the amount of salt each recipe calls for is different, you know?

      Thanks so much for the compliment, too – you’re making me all blushy. 🙂

  7. This recipe works well for making Ghee. However, I’ve had problems in the past with not getting the temperature just right on my glass cooktop stove and the result was mini explosions of the butter and a huge mess to clean all over my stove. I’ve since discovered a much easier method with a small slow cooker. I cut up 1 & 1/2 lbs grass fed butter, set to high with lid partly on, enough to keep the butter barely simmering and still letting the moisture evaporate. At 5 1/2 hours my ghee was done perfectly and I didn’t have to hover over the stove. Try it, you’ll love it! I strain mine with a closely woven muslin.

Comments are closed.