Ghee is one of those things that I wish I had understood the value of much earlier in my kitchen career!
Ghee and clarified butter are almost the same thing and are sometimes thought of interchangeably. There is a small difference though.
Both clarified butter and ghee are butter that has been melted and cooked until the water content evaporates and the milk solids condense and fall to the bottom. The difference is that ghee is cooked longer until it browns, much like what we call brown butter. Then the milk solids are strained off similar to clarified butter but ghee will be a bit nuttier and richer.
Ghee is typically associated with Indian cuisine while clarified butter is more associated with its French cuisine roots.
Note that Ghee is readily available in supermarkets but making it yourself is so easy why pay more for commercial ghee?
What is so Great About Ghee?
Both Ghee and clarified butter have the advantage of having a high smoke point. This makes them much better candidates for high temperature frying.
Why is smoke point important? This is the point the oil starts to break down and can impart a burnt or bitter taste. This is also when free radicals are created that are harmful to the body.
Smoke point for regular butter is 302 degrees F. Clarified butter and ghee smoke point is 450 degrees, comparable to Soybean, Corn and Peanut oil. The highest is Safflower oil at 510 degrees followed by Rice Bran oil at 490 and Refined or Light Olive Oil 460-465. If you want to check other kinds of oil you can visit this Masterclass site dedicated to smoking point info.
Extra Virgin Olive oil, coconut oil and sesame oil have smoke points of about 350 degrees. (Note Olive oils have different smoke points depending on how they are processed).
Ghee is well tolerated by people with lactose sensitivity because the milk solids have been removed.
Ghee is great for any high temperature frying... think fried potato pancakes, mushrooms or anywhere you would like a nice buttery component.
And here is a newsflash....ghee makes the BEST stove top popcorn EVER! You can check out Buttery Sweet and Salty Popcorn here! That is actually why I started making ghee- and boy- am I glad I did!
One thing ghee is not good for is baking. It doesn't perform the same as regular butter because it is missing the water content, the lactose sugars and milk proteins. It is also not neutral in flavour so if a buttery flavour hit is not part of your dish then choose a neutral oil.
How Do I Make Ghee?
You simply melt your butter in a saucepan. It will foam as it simmers and the water evaporates. After about 10 minutes you will see crispy, browned sediment fall to the bottom of the pan. You then drain the ghee through a paper towel lined sieve.
You can store the cooled ghee in a closed jar in the fridge or at room temperature.
How Long Will Ghee Keep?
Ghee is shelf stable for several months because the milk solids that make butter spoil have been removed. Ghee will keep in the fridge even longer.
One pound of butter will produce about 1 ⅔ cups of ghee. This might vary slightly from brand to brand if the water content of the butter varies.
Note that ghee is slightly higher in calories and fat than regular butter because without the water it is slightly concentrated - 125 calories per Tablespoon vs 102 for regular butter. You might arguably use less since it is more intense but that would be up to you.
How To Make Ghee
- 1 lb unsalted butter
- Melt butter is a sauce pan over medium to medium high heat.
- Allow butter to simmer about 10 minutes until you see it turn darker and the milk solids crystalize and fall to the bottom of the pan.
- The butter will foam as the water starts to evaporate. This is okay.
- When milk solids are golden brown drain butter through a strainer lined with a paper towel. Foam and milk solids will remain in the towel. Butter should be clear and deep yellow.
- Transfer to a clean container and cover when cool. It will keep at room temperature several months and in fridge even longer.
- Scoop out and use for frying as required.