Ghee

Ghee is a traditional cooking fat hailing from Indian culture. It’s simply butter (or, traditionally, churned yogurt) that has been heated to remove the milk solids (casein), water, and sugars (lactose) – leaving only the pure butterfat.

Here at Meal Possible, we love grassfed ghee and use it as our primary cooking fat. We even prefer it over the darling of the health-conscious, coconut oil.

  • When produced with quality grassfed butter, ghee contains high amounts of Vitamins A, D, and E, crucially important fat-soluble vitamins. Read more about ghee’s benefits here.
  • Vitamin K2 is a unique fatty acid that’s hard to find in our modern diet, but pastured butter and ghee have it in abundance (unlike their grain-fed commercial counterparts). Most people assume Vitamin K’s only function is to assist in blood clotting, but it goes far beyond: it also helps with development of strong teeth and bones, cardiovascular, and neurological health. It works better when combined with Vitamins A & D – making pastured ghee a fantastic source of these crucial fat-soluble nutrients. Read more about Vitamin K2 here.
  • CLA (conjugated linoleic acid), a crucially important saturated fatty acid which is only present in pastured butter (as opposed to grain-fed). CLA has many benefits, including growth and development; bone1, cardiovascular2, and muscular3 health; taming inflammation and boosting immunity4; and promoting weight loss5.
  • It’s high in butyric acid (BTA), a powerful short-chain fatty acid with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, digestive, and gut-healing properties. BTA is our colon’s preferred fuel source, so much so that our body can produce it (with the aid of beneficial bacteria).
  • It has a very high smoke point: 485°F, which is higher than olive oil, lard, coconut oil, palm oil – even tallow. Only refined avocado oil has a higher smoke point.
  • It’s shelf stable. Unlike butter, you can keep it close at hand, out on the counter.
  • It’s easily accessible for most people: butter is universally available, it’s simple to make at home – and when it’s homemade, it’s very affordable for a quality fat.
  • It’s absolutely delicious, and works well in almost any dish – both savory and sweet.
  • It is often a good choice for those with dairy and/or casein sensitivities, as it has no lactose and most of the casein has been removed (however, if you’re highly sensitive or allergic, it may not be recommended for your situation).

Are you interested in preparing this amazing food, but imagine that it’s a little too out-of-reach for your culinary skills? Or, perhaps you’ve tried it in the past with less-than-stellar results. We feel that many other online recipes make this process unnecessarily complicated. Ghee is actually incredibly simple to make – it just requires a very watchful eye, and knowing what to look for. We’ll walk you through the process step-by-step so that you can produce your own nutrient-dense ghee at home (and save a ton of money).

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Sourcing Grass-fed Butter

Your butter should be of the highest quality – grass-fed/pastured and preferably organic (although the “grass-fed” designation is essentially more important than “organic” when it comes to the nutrients in butter). The best option, of course, is local butter from pastured cows. You can typically find grass-fed butter in farmer’s markets or local health food stores; check for a “grass-fed” designation on the label. If you want to have complete control, you can find quality milk and churn the butter yourself (it’s a lot easier than it sounds).

We go through a HUGE amount of butter here in the Meal Possible kitchen. For this reason, we prefer pastured Irish Kerrygold butter, which is a quality brand that is reasonably-priced and readily accessible for most people. For a commercially-available, inexpensive pastured butter, it is probably the best option out there. You can find Kerrygold at Trader Joes, Costco, and many other grocery stores, and it can also be purchased online (we recommend purchasing in bulk if you do choose to order online, as this will greatly reduce the overall cost due to shipping).

We do wish to note, though, that Kerrygold is not 100% grass-fed (it’s closer to 90%), and is not designated organic. This isn’t a deal-breaker for us: their cows are on lush, pesticide-free Irish pasture for 10 months out of the year, and are fed a mixture of mostly hay, along with some grain, during the coldest two months. Kerrygold has informed their customers that this winter-ration grain contains mostly wheat and barley, but can contain soy and corn, and can have a small amount of GMO contamination, up to 3%. We firmly believe in choosing grass-fed over simply organic (which will typically be grain-fed if not specifically stated) for the superior nutrient profile, even if there may be a small amount of GMO contamination. Kerrygold is quick to point out that the butter ITSELF contains no GMO ingredients – they are allowed to state this because no GMO products have been added; it’s indirectly present (possibly) in the cow’s feed.

Although this is a perfectly acceptable option for most people (we are hard-pressed to find a better option these days), some extremely sensitive individuals may adversely react, such as those with FPIES. We know many people who choose to only purchase Kerrygold in the warmer months, when the cows are eating grass 100% of the time. You can read a critical review of Kerrygold here, a counterpoint argument here and decide what will work best for your situation.

Pastured Butter

These pastured butters are all quality choices.

Side note: butter freezes well, so if you find a good source, feel free to stock up!

How To Make Ghee: A Hands-Off Approach

Ghee doesn’t require stirring, skimming, or a change of heat (typically); it just needs babysitting. If you’re really experienced, you might be able to walk away and come back, but you should stay close the first few times you attempt this recipe so that you can get the hang of it – and not have to throw out pricey grassfed butter!

The entire process should take anywhere from 20-50 minutes. The lower the heat, the longer it will take – but the outcome will be the same; just don’t overdo the heat and you’ll reduce the risk of burning your batch.

Chop the butter into pieces, roughly about 1-2″ in size. Heat a medium stainless or ceramic saucepan, with a heavy base and tall sides.

Ghee, Cubed Butter

Bring to a boil, then reduce your heat to medium-low – you want to maintain a nice simmer, with some energetic bubbling action, but not a rolling boil. Foam will begin to appear, like this:

Ghee, Simmering

Allow to simmer undisturbed for about 20-30 minutes, checking every few minutes or so. (You can periodically skim the foam if you like, but this isn’t necessary.) It will start to smell like popcorn, and sputter occasionally. If it’s sputtering too much, or splattering out of a high-walled pan, you probably have the temperature up too high.

When the bubbling action subsides, and the remaining foam has begun to turn a light caramel, it’s done. It’s important to turn off the heat right when everything begins to darken; it can go from done to burnt in just a couple of minutes. Don’t go past this point or you will end up with burnt ghee!

It will look similar to this when it’s ready:

Ghee, Cooked - Closeup

It’s ready!

You can see that the foam (which we haven’t skimmed) has begun to turn a caramel color in places, and is browned on the sides of the pan. Take a spoon and gently push away the foam to examine the bottom. The ghee itself should be clear and golden, and the darker milk solids will be browned on the bottom of the pan. If your ghee begins to darken any more than this, you’re on your way to burnt within a couple of minutes, so remove it quickly.

Strain your ghee using a fine-mesh strainer. To make this process easier, I also use a wide-mouth funnel to help my conical strainer sit comfortably on top of my jar. If you would like a finer strain, you can also use a chemical-free coffee filter or a nut milk bag, which will remove even more of the casein and any other impurities (read our recommendations regarding autoimmune/AIP, GAPS Intro and casein-sensitive individuals).

Straining Ghee

Straining Ghee

When it cools, the final product should smell delightfully buttery (not burnt), and it will be a vibrant yellow, like this:

Ghee

I burned a second batch of ghee to show you the difference (my kitchen smells fantastic now – you’re welcome). Even though the foam is still light in color, the ghee itself has turned black. The pan will have started to smoke, and the smell will be toasty and slightly acrid. You may be interested to know that this batch was placed on medium instead of medium-low heat – and it burned in less than half the time that it took my perfect first batch to complete. If you get to this point, you’ll unfortunately need to throw it out (not down your drain!) and start over. Just a little reminder to keep close to your pot!

Ghee, Burned

Burned Ghee

Ghee that is allowed to cool on the counter will obtain a naturally grainy texture – this is completely normal, and occurs during the gradual cooling process. The “grainy” appearance isn’t an issue if you are cooking with it or spreading it, but if you’d prefer a smoother texture, you can immediately place your ghee in the fridge after straining.

You can store ghee in an airtight container on the counter for up to two months, or in the fridge for up to six months. It will typically solidify at room temperature, but will become hard when stored in the fridge (still easily scoopable).

Notes on Casein Sensitivity, GAPS Intro and Autoimmune/AIP

Ghee is an amazing, nutrient-dense food, but it isn’t for everyone. While it’s often touted as allergen- and casein-free (when prepared properly, it’s considered a “negligible” amount), it’s impossible to remove 100% of the casein. This is true for any ghee, homemade or commercially produced. Due to limitations of lab testing equipment, even certified casein-free ghee can contain up to 2.5 ppm casein, which can be enough to cause problems in extremely sensitive individuals.

The GAPS Intro diet recommends the introduction of ghee at the beginning of Stage 2. Most individuals will have no issues, but we recommend testing ghee with the Coca Pulse Test before adding it to your food rotation.

We recommend that casein- and dairy-sensitive individuals, as well as those on GAPS Intro or similar phased healing diets, use a chemical-free coffee filter or nut milk bag to assist in removing more of the casein proteins than the fine-mesh strainer alone. However, if you are extremely sensitive, we do not recommend the consumption of ghee. Those with autoimmune issues, or those following the AIP diet, should exercise caution when consuming ghee. Please read this article for more information, and discuss with your nutritionist or healthcare practitioner.

If you suspect that you have a mild or moderate casein/dairy sensitivity, or if you are in the early stages of GAPS Intro, we recommend testing high-quality, unflavored ghee with the Coca Pulse Test before adding it to your diet.


More Resources

Ghee
Prep Time
5 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
35 mins
 

A casein-free alternative to butter, grassfed ghee has a wide array of nutrients - without the problematic milk proteins and lactose. With a high 485° smoke point, it's perfect for most applications in the kitchen. This simple recipe makes the process no-fuss, requiring little more than keeping an eye on your pot.

Course: Base Recipe, Condiment
Cuisine: Indian, Traditional
Servings: 16 2-tbsp servings
Calories: 203 kcal
Author: Kelly Brown NTP
Ingredients
  • 1 lb unsalted butter , grassfed is best (two bricks of Kerrygold work great)
Instructions
  1. Chop the butter into pieces, roughly about 1-2" in size. Heat a medium stainless or ceramic saucepan (with a heavy base and tall sides). Bring to a boil, then reduce your heat to medium, or medium-low - you want to maintain a nice simmer, with some energetic bubbling action, but not a rolling boil, which will make a mess and increase the risk of burning.

    Ghee, Simmering
  2. Allow to simmer undisturbed for about 20-30 minutes, checking every few minutes or so. (You can periodically skim the foam, but it isn't necessary.) 

  3. When the bubbling action subsides, and the remaining foam has just turned a light caramel brown, your ghee is ready. It's important to turn off the heat when the ghee just begins to darken; it can go from done to burnt in just a couple of minutes. Don't go past this point or you will end up with burnt ghee!

    Ghee, Cooked - Closeup
  4. Allow the ghee to cool enough to handle. It should be clear, with the browned milk solids collected at the bottom of the pan. It's important to note that the milk solids at the bottom should be browned, but NOT the ghee itself (which should still be yellow or very light brown). A little remaining foam on top is ok.

  5. Strain the ghee through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container. For an even finer strain, a coffee filter or nut milk bag can also be used.

    Straining Ghee
  6. Ghee can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two months, or refrigerated for up to six months.

Recipe Notes
  • We recommend that casein- and dairy-sensitive individuals, as well as those on GAPS Intro or similar phased healing diets, use a chemical-free coffee filter or nut milk bag to assist in removing more of the casein proteins than the fine-mesh strainer alone. Note, however, that it is impossible to remove 100% of the casein; this is true for any ghee, homemade or commercially produced. If you are extremely sensitive, we do not recommend the consumption of ghee.
  • Those with autoimmune issues, or those following the AIP diet, should exercise caution when consuming ghee. Please read this article for more information, and discuss with your nutritionist or healthcare practitioner.
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Article References

1.
Lin G, Wang H, Dai J, et al. Conjugated linoleic acid prevents age-induced bone loss in mice by regulating both osteoblastogenesis and adipogenesis. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2017;490(3):813-820. [PubMed]
2.
Wannamethee S, Jefferis B, Lennon L, Papacosta O, Whincup P, Hingorani A. Serum Conjugated Linoleic Acid and Risk of Incident Heart Failure in Older Men: The British Regional Heart Study. J Am Heart Assoc. 2018;7(1). [PubMed]
3.
Oh S, Lee S, Kim J. Effects of conjugated linoleic acid/n-3 and resistance training on muscle quality and expression of atrophy-related ubiquitin ligases in middle-aged mice with high-fat dietinduced obesity. J Exerc Nutrition Biochem. 2017;21(3):11-18. [PubMed]
4.
Dilzer A, Park Y. Implication of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) in human health. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2012;52(6):488-513. [PubMed]
5.
Lehnen T, da S, Camacho A, Marcadenti A, Lehnen A. A review on effects of conjugated linoleic fatty acid (CLA) upon body composition and energetic metabolism. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2015;12:36. [PubMed]

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