Ghee, or clarified butter, is butter that has had the milk solids and water removed. As a result, ghee is more easily tolerated by a lot of people's digestive system (for example people with dairy intolerances) and can also be used at high heat. It is extremely important not to use oils at heats above their smoke point, or else you will be oxidizing the oil and thus creating toxic fumes and free radicals. Not good. Therefore, I always get excited when I find out about oils that can withstand fairly high heat, such as coconut oil and avocado oil. Ghee is a great alternative and can withstand even higher heat. Ghee is great for sautéing, but if you are baking, stick with butter (or an alternative such as coconut oil).
As an interesting factoid: traditional Indian medicine considers ghee to be the most satvic (health promoting) fat available.
If you are sautéing, which I assume most of you are on a fairly regular basis, then embrace the ghee!
(Side note: vegans obviously will not embrace the ghee, and my suggestion is for all of you who eschew animal products: make friends with coconut oil if you haven't already. It's also a great choice for sautéing, along with many other things.)
You can purchase ghee at health food stores, and maybe even some well stocked conventional grocery stores, which is perfectly legit. I've previously bought the brand pictured above and it will definitely work. If, however, you want the most fantastic ghee, make it at home. It's quite simple.
- Purchase some high quality unsalted butter. (Think organic and grass-fed.) 1 pound of butter will make 1 1/2 cups of ghee.
- Set up a glass container with cheese cloth secured across the opening
- Heat butter in a pot on the stove at low-medium heat.
- After 5-10 minutes you will notice the milk solids start to form on the bottom and sides of the pot if you move the butter around a bit. When the milk solids just start to turn brown, pour off the ghee through a couple cheese cloths into a glass container. Voila!
The ghee will solidify as it cools. Presto!