What is Ghee?

Updated: Mar 31

Ghee is clarified butter. It is made by heating butter till all the milk solids are cooked, allowed to settle to the bottom and eventually filtered out. The golden fat from butter that is devoid of any milk protein is called Ghee.

In the Ayurvedic tradition, ghee making involves multiple steps. It starts from skimming the cream that collects on top of boiled and cooled raw milk or full fat non-homogenized milk. This cream is collected periodically in a container and stored in the fridge. Once enough cream collects, a starter of yogurt is added to this cream and it is allowed to ferment overnight in a warm place. When fermented, the cream yogurt is churned with cold water, till butter rises to the top and buttermilk remains at the bottom. The butter is rinsed well in cold water to remove any remanent of buttermilk and then is heated gradually in a separate empty container at medium heat. The slow heat allows all the milk solids to separate out and settle to the bottom of the container. The liquid that remains on top is then filtered through a fine cheese cloth to get beautiful golden ghee.

In a nutshell, ghee is traditionally made by:

Collecting milk cream---> fermenting it into yogurt---> churning this yogurt with cold water---> separating the butter that floats on top--->heating the butter separately---> to finally get Ghee.

Ghee when derived by following these multiple steps attains a beautiful, smooth, light quality that can easily spread, penetrate and nourish body tissues. Good quality ghee tends to have a semi solid nature, liquid texture on top and semi solid at the bottom. At temperatures below 70 F, it solidifies completely and liquefies at higher temperatures. It can be stored at room temperature and does not need to be refrigerated. It tends to have a shelf life of about 30 days when stored at room temperature.

The traditional Ayurvedic method is time consuming and very expensive, and so most ghee in the market is made from butter churned straight out of milk and then heated to get ghee. Skipping the fermentation to yogurt step may cause this kind of ghee to be slightly heavier than the traditional method. So it is always advisable to consume it with your individual health condition in mind.

What are the benefits of ghee?

Ghee offers unctuousness to the body tissues so they can perform their function efficiently. Ghee is light in how it travels in the body and so is able to reach the deepest tissues effectively. It protects body's nervous system and improves cellular communication.

Ghee maintains:

  • memory (grasping, retaining, recalling and intelligence)

  • body's digestive fire

  • strength of the body

  • health in children and the aged

  • good eyesight

  • good voice

  • the regeneration factor in the body and thus longevity

  • youthfulness even as you age and

  • establishes good progeny

Ghee helps persons :

  • with a delicate constitution

  • who are recovery from injury

  • who have had surgery and are weak

  • who need to gain strength when recovering from fever

  • suffering from depression

  • with anxiety (vata dosha)

  • with heat issues (pitta dosha) as it is cooling

How do I consume ghee?

Add ghee to your hot food as it will solidify on your salads or in your cool dishes and may not be digested well by your body. Ghee works best in the body when it can spread in its liquid form. Solidified ghee tends to burden the digestive fire and adding a complexity to the digestive process.

How much ghee should I consume?

A healthy person can have ghee daily, 1 to 2 tsp on top of each hot meal, two times a day. If you are eligible to consume ghee, you can also cook with it. Use moderate amounts of ghee in cooking in such a way that your cooked food does not leave a smear of ghee on your plate.

So how do I know I am eligible to consume ghee?

Here are some general guidelines.

If you have:

  • generally healthy pink tongue;

  • feel light and energetic most of the time,

  • no swelling issues or joint inflammations,

  • no digestive issues such as nausea or vomiting,

  • no skin eruptions that are oozing ,

  • no lethargy or heaviness in the body

then you may be eligible to have ghee in your diet. However, it is always a good idea to confirm with your Ayurvedic Practitioner for your individual health condition.

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