Golden Ghee (dairy free)

20131113-112429.jpg

If there is a food that can claim to be made by alchemy, then this is it. Truly a healing superfood, ghee is considered sacred and medicinal in the traditional Hindu system of medicine known as Ayurveda (translated into English as the “science of life”). Most everyone can benefit from it! A pure, clarified oil made from gently heating and clarifying butter, it has been used internally and externally for balance and healing. It is said to bring clarity to the mind and balance to the body. Rebecca Wood has a wonderful article on ghee here. And for even more on its uses and benefits, see here.)

I use ghee for our scrambled eggs in the morning, to add to rice as it cooks, spread on toast, and to use for frying or sautéing as its high-heat point makes it healthy and ideal for this use. It has a rich, complex flavor, buttery yet deeper.
And for those who cannot eat dairy, it is a wonderful oil to use in place of butter. This is primarily how I discovered it, as my children do not tolerate dairy well, so I needed alternatives!

My favorite butter has always been Kerrygold unsalted, from Ireland. Mostly because it’s creamy and yellow, and it tastes delicious! It feels smooth and pure, the way butter should be. It is also cultured, which means it is easier to digest and helpful to our digestive systems, too! And the fact that it comes from cows grazing on the pristine, abundant green grasses of Ireland is key, imbuing it with that deep yellow color.

20131113-112140.jpg

I do love buying local as much as I can, but for this butter I make an exception. So this is my butter of choice–available at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods for around $3 per 8 oz. (two sticks’ worth), and other specialty grocery stores.

20131113-111530.jpg

Golden Ghee

2-4 cups of grass-fed unsalted butter (or any amount!)

A heavy sauce pan without lid (I like cast iron with enamel coating or pyrex/glass)

This is a very simple process, though takes a bit of time and patience. I usually make ghee when I’ll be working on other things in the kitchen, like dinner for instance, and I can keep an eye on it until it looks “done.” Done is simply when all the milk solids have either dropped to the bottom or risen to the surface in a kind of white foam that can be easily scooped off with a spoon and discarded. The “trick” is to make sure to get all of the white, milky parts (the milk solids) out of the beautiful, clear, golden butter oil that is left after all of the milk solids have been removed. The milky parts will eventually begin to brown and create a thin crust over the top of the butter oil. The milk solids on the bottom will also begin to brown; just make sure not to let them burn, as this will impart a burnt flavor to the ghee.

Allow the butter to gently simmer on the stove on the lowest heat, either skimming the white foam off the surface and discarding as it simmers, or waiting until the end and gathering it all at once. *Alternately, ghee may be made in the oven: using an oven-proof pot without a lid, place in a 200 or 250 degree oven for anywhere from one to two hours, checking it periodically to make sure it is not burning.

Once you have removed as much of the solids from the top as you can, use a very fine strainer and, if needed, a few layers of cheesecloth or a similar clean straining cloth lining the strainer. Carefully pour the clear golden butter oil through your strainer into a clean glass jar. Fit with a lid and allow to cool.

This can now be kept either in the fridge or not–refrigeration is not required, as the perishable milk parts have been removed.

I can often be found with my nose over a new jar of ghee, taking in deep breaths as I simply smell the delicious aroma. It smells sooo wonderful! And it feels both purifying and invigorating to me for some reason, like having a clean bath and feeling renewed.

Sometimes alchemy can be as simple as the process of simmering one substance to concentrate and extract its true gold.

20131113-111731.jpg

Update: I have discovered a new way to filter the ghee that is not only super-easy, but also ensures a dairy-free product. By using an unbleached paper coffee filter in place of the strainer, I have wowed myself with the result! Just fit a coffee filter over a glass jar and fold over the edges a bit, then hold in place and pour your liquid in slowly as this will take more time than the strainer method.