Ghee is easy

I gained the confidence for making Ghee from this great post from 2008 at asmartmouth.com. { published 9 years ago minus 2 days, in fact! } Until I get photos of my own for posting, go take a look at Anjuli’s recipe. { This one from the Lip Smacking Chef is also good. } She also shares lore and extolls the virtues and purpose of ghee much better than I ever could. I will indulge in one quote:

It’s wicked easy once you understand how butter cooks. You’re basically clarifying butter, then letting it cook longer until the milk solids caramelize, giving it the unique nutty flavor and sweet aroma only found in ghee.

That said, even if all you wind up with is clarified butter, that’s half the battle. It lasts forever in the fridge { common-sense translation: a long time } , and has health benefits beyond having a higher smoke point than butter. Added to an oil that also has a high smoke point seems to improve the cooking qualities of both, whether that is scientifically substantiated or not. For my high-heat-griddle buckwheat galette/crêpes, I use ghee in combination with Avocado oil { now that one of our big grocery chains carries it for a pretty reasonable price, that is } .

So: Take 1/2 or 1 pound unsalted butter, and cut into cubes. Plop in a medium saucepan, preferably with a heavy bottom. Put on low-to-medium heat, and keep an eye on it. After 40+ minutes or so the butter will melt, then form a foam of tiny bubbles, and finally get cloudy. You’re getting close! 

In the mean time, prepare a large-enough glass jar or measuring cup with a strainer inserted that is lined with several layers of cotton cheese cloth — 4 layers at least. Experience has taught me to be careful that the cloth lays smooth and is not bunched up { looking forward to the clean-up } .

Clarified butter happens when the butter solids start clumping and drop to the bottom. At this point, you can use a wooden spoon { best with a flat bottom edge } and stir the bottom cracklings, but it’s not really necessary. The main point is to watch like a hawk as they slowly and then more swiftly turn brown. How brown you want them is up to you, after you have made a few batches. The trick will be to not let the brownings burn. I love caramelized foods { onions particularly, but also roasted garlic } so I let it get as close to the burn limit as I dare.

When you like the looks of it, remove from the heat and pour into the glass container. A large-mouthed funnel helps, but I’ve done it without. The aim of this step is to trap all the browned butter-fat solids on the cheesecloth and let the caramelized-flavoured ghee into the container.

Take a look once you’re done — if there are any pieces or any cloudiness in the ghee, it will need to be restrained or go back on the stove, respectively.

Once it’s no longer hot, but still liquid, transfer it to any tight-seal container of your choice for the fridge. { A note on later usage: it helps to bring it out about a half hour before you need it, otherwise refrigerator-temperature ghee can be tough to get out with a knife. }

The browned bits are absolutely delicious. Put them in whatever you’re cooking, you won’t be sorry. Be sure to scrape the rest from the saucepan and add it to your stash.

For tips on cleaning the cheesecloth — if you reuse — see this post