Love butter but can’t tolerate dairy? Try ghee!

I honestly don’t know why I haven’t written about this sooner. I have food allergy issues in my family and I’m constantly on the look-out for new cooking hacks, new ways to substitute ingredients, or new (new to me, at least) techniques to help accommodate a food allergy. Ghee is exactly that–the end product of a technique that turns lactose-laden butter into a healthful fat that is delicious and suitable for those who are lactose-intolerant. But ‘new’ it is not. This stuff has been around for centuries. Basically, ghee is simply clarified butter–butter that has been melted and had the milk solids skimmed off, leaving behind the pure butter fat. Aside from the obvious culinary uses, ghee has also been used for centuries to alleviate a variety of physical ailments.

Finished ghee, still quite hot.

So, what is so great about ghee, or clarified butter? For starters, the clarifying process removes the milk solids, making it a suitable fat for those who are dairy intolerant. It has a higher ‘smoke point’ (the temperature at which a fat begins to smoke and degrade) than either butter or extra virgin olive oil, making it an excellent fat to use in high heat applications, like sauteing. Ghee supports gastrointestinal health, and helps to strengthen the lining of the gut, alleviating ‘leaky gut syndrome.’ It won’t get rancid or moldy and will remain fresh for months at room temperature. And, ghee is delicious. It tastes like butter, because it is made from butter. In the kitchen, use ghee just as you would butter or oil–scramble eggs in it, saute with it, drizzle over veggies, and so on.

Ghee is available in well-stocked grocery stores, but is typically very expensive. Look at the photo, taken in March of 2017. A small jar of ghee is going to set you back between 15 and 20 dollars. Alternatively, a pound of butter in the same grocery store, on the same day, costs $3.69. Ghee is extremely simple to make at home. Let me show you how……

 

  1. Use one pound of butter. (Salted, unsalted, it doesn’t matter. The salt attaches itself to the milk solids, which is the stuff you skim off and throw away.)
  2. Put the butter into a large saucepan. (You want it large enough to easily skim the surface of the butter. A skimmer works best, but a large spoon will work, too.)
  3. Over medium heat melt the butter and let it come to a boil. As it boils you’ll see foam coming to the surface. Skim this foam off and discard. (These are the milk solids.)
  4. As it continues to boil the ghee will be snapping, crackling, and foaming. That is normal. After about 10 minutes of boiling and skimming the bubbles on top of the ghee will get smaller, and the crackling snapping sound will get quieter. The look of the ghee will be clear and bright yellow. Take the ghee off the heat.
  5. Carefully strain the ghee through 4 layers of cheesecloth into a small glass or ceramic bowl. Let cool. When cool the ghee will return to a softly solid state, with a light yellow opaque color, and a slightly granular mouthfeel.

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