We’ve been using ghee in our house for a few years now, and I love its versatility and taste for so many of the things we eat. Ghee is an ancient food that has been eaten by people around the world for thousands of years, is extremely nutritious, and is also one of the greatest survival foods I can think of because it doesn’t have to be refrigerated.
This amazing food is a stable, saturated fat, and from my experience will keep on the counter or in your cupboard for up to several months; unopened, even longer. It also lasts longer refrigerated than butter. Ghee is clarified butter that has been cooked for a longer period of time to eliminate moisture. Traditionally, it has been used in Indian cooking for thousands of years, but now many people are discovering its wonderful taste, myriad of ways to use, and health benefits.
Like butter, ghee is a healthy saturated fat that contains fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients our bodies need. Along with Vitamins A, D, E, and K, critical to bone, brain, heart, and immune system function. Ghee is an abundant source of conjugated linoleic acid – an antioxidant which destroys free-radicals (cancer), immune booster, and a friend to cardiovascular health. It is also contains lauric acid – useful in fighting fungus and candida.
Today I am excited to share with you an excerpt from The Herbal Kitchen by Kami McBride. Ghee can be used in every way that you would use butter for cooking (even raw) and has unlimited uses and healing properties. Many thanks for this informative information, Kami!
Ghee is good for you! We substitute ghee for almost everything that butter would be used for. Ghee is butter that is heated in order to separate the water and milk solids from the butter fat. This process turns butter into a nutty flavored, healthy and nourishing food.
Ghee does not go rancid when you cook with it so it is one of the best oils to use for baking and sauteeing. This liquid gold is also a great food for people who are lactose intolerant. Since the milk solids have been removed, ghee is suitable for those who need a lactose free diet.
I love ghee, and just like every other medium in my kitchen, what do you think I do with it? Right! Add herbs. Ghee is a great delivery mechanism for the medicinal properties of herbs. Ghee carries the healing constituents of the plants deeper into the body, nourishing all tissues. It helps the body to absorb many healing qualities of the herbs while adding a wealth of variation and rich flavor to whatever you are eating. As my husband Michael says, anything tastes good with ghee on it .
Start making your own herbal ghee blends and soon the condiment aisle at the grocery store will pale in comparison to the creative flare of your home pantry
Herbal ghee: getting started
- Unsalted organic butter
- Dried powdered herbs
- Minced fresh herbs
- 10 inch by 8 inch glass Pyrex pan
- Stainless steel pot
- 3 sterilized Mason jars
- Large glass measuring cup
- 7 inch by 7 inch piece of muslin (2 pieces)
- Large spoon
- Butter- use organic unsalted, sweet butter. Use the freshest butter you can find
- Dried herbs – dried herbs for ghee need to be finely powdered
- Fresh herbs – when adding fresh herbs to ghee, you put moisture back into it along with other living plant substances. Now your ghee has a shorter shelf life than if it were plain or amended with dried herbs. Ghee mixed with fresh herbs needs to be refrigerated and treated like butter. The variation in water content in the herb along with the varying anti-bacterial qualities of each herb contribute to the difference in shelf life. Once I add fresh herbs to ghee, I like to use it within a week. Any ghee that contains fresh garlic needs to be used within a couple of days.
Another handy way to use fresh herbed ghee is to put it into ice cube trays and then freeze it. Once it is frozen, pop out the ghee chunks, put them in a jar with a lid on it and store them in the freezer. Whenever you need to add some life to your soup or beans, pull out a chunk of ghee and pop it in to your meal. Frozen herbed ghee lasts up to one year.
How to Make Herbal Ghee
- Heat oven to 275 degrees
- Unwrap 3 pounds of butter and put it in a glass Pyrex baking pan
- First the butter will melt, which takes about ½ hour. The timing on this step varies depending on if the butter came straight from the refrigerator or if it was at room temperature before you put it in the pan
- Once the butter melts, bits of white foam will begin to congeal on the top layer in the pan. You will notice three layers of things happening: white creamy milk solids on the bottom, the golden butter fat in the middle and the whey protein and moisture on the top
- Let cook for about another 30 minutes and the top layer of foam will crust together and completely cover the pan. You want as much of this to bubble up as possible, without letting it turn brown or burn. If at any time things start turning brown or burning, remove it from the oven.
- Once the white foam encrusts the top layer of the entire pan, if your oven allows for it, carefully reach your hand into the oven and use a spoon to scrape off the white layer
- Bake for another 15-20 minutes until another layer of white foam forms on the pan and then carefully remove the pan from the oven
- Scrape the remaining layer of white foam from off the top of the golden liquid. It makes good pet food
- Pour the pan contents into a large measuring cup or pitcher and then pour the liquid through a funnel lined with muslin into a sterilized glass jar
- Let the butter fat drip through the cloth, leaving behind undesirable solids in the muslin. Once all the liquid has dripped through the cloth (do not squeeze) then pour the liquid into a sauce pan
- Turn the stove on low, medium heat and cook the liquid for about 10-15 minutes
- The liquid will simmer and bubble, scoop the froth off the top and side of the pot with a spoon
- Stir the bottom of the pan to prevent anything sticking to the bottom of the pan. Anything that sticks will burn and give your ghee an undesirable burnt flavor
- After about 10-15 minutes the golden amber liquid will become clear and the frothing will almost stop
- Pour into a clean, dry measuring cup and then strain once again through a muslin lined funnel. Your ghee is ready!
I make ghee while I am doing other things in the kitchen. You need to keep an eye on what is happening so you can assess when it is time to move to the next step. Butter varies in its constituents and moisture content, so the timing for each step of ghee making will fluctuate. The above timing guidelines will vary.
Most resources for making ghee give directions to make the ghee in a sauce pan. I tried this for years, I burnt many batches of ghee and it drove my students nuts because there is about a 30 second window when the butter fat finally turns clear before the curdy sediments burn on the bottom. Baking the butter first clears out most of the white curds on the bottom of the pan that are the culprit of burnt ghee.
The process of making ghee removes the milk proteins and moisture making it a very stable substance. It can last for more than a year and does not need to be refrigerated. Ghee is stable for at least a year as long it is stored in an air tight container and moisture isn’t re-introduced by leaving the lid off or splashing food and liquids into it. When using ghee, make sure the utensils dipped into it are clean and dry.
Herbed ghee uses
- Add to soups just before serving
- Add to water while cooking rice and other grains
- Baking ingredient
- Condiment for popcorn, vegetable topping and dipping
- Garnish for fish and vegetables
- Lip balm for sunburned lips
- Massage oil for feet and scalp
- Moisturizer for entire body
- Morning toast or breakfast food
- Marinade for meat, fish and vegetables
- Sautee for meat, fish, vegetables and grains
- Substitute ghee for all butter uses
- Take it by the spoonful
Ghee recipes with dried herbs
2 cups ghee
½ cup powdered cinnamon
2 tablespoons powdered fennel
1 teaspoon powdered star anise
1 teaspoon powdered nutmeg
Add this ghee to your muffins, pancake mix, morning breads and toast.
Black pepper turmeric ghee
1 cup ghee
2 tablespoons powdered turmeric
1 tablespoon powdered black pepper
1 teaspoon powdered bay
Add this ghee to your rice and grains, refry beans in it and add it to any baked savory dish. This is a good winter cooking condiment as the combination of herbs are antibacterial and help dissolve pesky mucus.
Delicious spice ghee
1 cup ghee
1 tablespoon powdered coriander
1 tablespoon powdered cinnamon
1 teaspoon powdered cumin
½ teaspoon powdered clove
½ teaspoon powdered nutmeg
1 tablespoon powdered fennel
Happy nerves ghee
1 cup ghee
2 tablespoons powdered lemon balm
2 tablespoons powdered lavender
¼ cup powdered rose petals
½ cup honey
For more delicious herbal ghee recipes see Kami’s book, The Herbal Kitchen.
Kami McBride is the author of The Herbal Kitchen. For 24 years she has been teaching people to use herbs in their daily lives for health and wellness. Kami helps you to de-mystify the world of herbal medicine, and is fanatic about motivating people to use herbs in their gardening, cooking, skin care, stress reduction and caring for children’s home ailments. She is also a member of Yolo County Western Price Foundation, and lives with her husband and 6 year-old son in northern California, and loves helping people learn how to use herbs in the home setting for prevention.
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