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Preparing Ghee

Preparing Ghee

Ghee is clarified butter or pure butter fat. Its main advantage is that it can be heated to a high temperature without burning. Clarifying involves melting butter in a heavy pan either on top of the stove or in the oven, letting all the moisture evaporate and then continuing the heating process until the milk solids have browned on the bottom of the pan.

To make ghee at home, put 250-500 g unsalted or cultured butter into a heavy enameled pan, cutting it into small pieces first. Melt over low heat, then simmer for 10 minutes or so, during which time it will crackle as moisture is driven off. When it stops crackling the thin crust on the surface may be lifted off. The ghee should then be stirred and the cooking continued until the solids on the bottom of the pan have turned nut brown. Let it cool sufficiently to handle, then pour the clarified butter off into a lidded jar. Ghee prepared in this way will keep for months under refrigeration, and for shorter times without refrigeration.

In India, ghee made from butter is called usli ghee, meaning real or genuine ghee. Most people use a much cheaper vegetable ghee called vanaspati. This is made from saturated vegetable oils which, in order to give them a solid consistency, are hydrogenated. From a health point of view, this is probably worse than using real ghee, but more affordable. The processing gives this product a very similar smell and taste to the real thing.

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