Thursday, August 22, 2013

Homemade Ghee or Clarified Butter

8 oz. Ghee

Each little bottle of ghee that I buy from the local Indian grocery store lasts about a month because I use it only for garnishing. The 8 oz. bottle costs $5.00 or thereabouts which is not too bad a price. However, several friends have said they make their own ghee at home, so I thought I'd experiment with it since I had used up the last bottle and didn't want to waste time going to the store.

I melted 2 sticks of Land O' Lakes unsalted butter in a pan over low heat with 2 small bay leaves, which contain antiseptic qualities and purifies the ghee.

After the butter melted, the contents in the pan began to foam and bubble quite loudly. I swirled it around every few minutes, keeping it on low heat all the while because I didn't want any of the bubbles to burst in my face.

When all the water evaporated and the bubbling died down, the foam was replaced with bubbles and the liquid became clearer. I swirled it around some more and the bubbles began to dissipate.

A few more minutes and I noticed the milk solids browning at the bottom of the pan. When Mum made this at home many decades ago, she would mix some hot rice and salt with these brown bits for us and I remember it tasted nutty & delicious!

Using a tea strainer, I strained the ghee into a sterilized glass jar with a tight fitting lid. I've always stored ghee in the pantry and it lasts without refrigeration for months at a time. The trick is to always use a clean teaspoon to remove ghee from the bottle. At first the ghee in the bottle looked more like oil and I was somewhat disappointed, but it thickened as it cooled and the aroma was just perfect!

The residue in the pan, consisting of the browned milk solids and bay leaves, was used to cook lentils for dinner that night. 

I was quite surprised that it all went off without a hitch and that it took only about 15 minutes. The next time, I'll use all four sticks of unsalted butter and make more! 

To summarize:
  1. Use 2 sticks of unsalted butter & 2 bay leaves to yield 8 oz. of ghee.
  2. Keep the pan of melting/melted butter on low heat during the entire process.
  3. Swirl the contents of the pan - do not stir.
  4. Make sure to store the ghee in a clean, sterilized glass jar with a tight fitting lid. 
  5. Keep the ghee at room temperature because it's easier to scoop out.
  6. Always use a clean spoon to remove ghee from the bottle.
  7. Don't discard the browned bits of milk solids - it tastes nutty and delicious in cooked food or mixed with salt & hot rice, pasta or toast.

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