Clarified butter is an ancient dairy product originated in Indian subcontinent back in 1500 BC. The Middle East and Africa almost similar product have been available since equal ancient time. It is an excellent substitute of regular cooking oil, butter oil or regular butter due to high smoke point and widely used in Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines. Traditional Ghee can be prepared from cow’s milk/ buffalo milk or mixed milk. Apart from its culinary use, it is famous for its multiple nutritional benefits and therapeutic properties on regular use. Ghee is the Indian name for Clarified Butter. As Ghee or Clarified butter is mainly produced by indigenous method, sometimes its texture varies in other parts of world. However, the characteristics, aroma and use of Ghee and Clarified Butter is similar.
Ghee or Clarified Butter has got acceptance worldwide due to its characteristic’s aroma and versatility in cooking world cuisine. The nutritional benefits and therapeutic properties of it’s healthy fat are further increasing its use in regular diet. Thus, coming out of Asia, Ghee or Clarified Butter is now a household name for Europe, North and South America and Australia & New Zealand.
What is Clarified Butter?
Ghee or Clarified Butter is the purest form of milk fat. It is obtained by heating cow/buffalo milk unsalted butter / cream in a slow cooking process to evaporate nearly all the moisture and solid not fat giving the product a typical physical structure, aroma and taste.
Codex Standards specifies Ghee or Clarified Butter to have 96% minimum milkfat, 0.3% maximum moisture, 0.3% maximum Free Fatty acids and a peroxide value (PV) leass than 1.
The physical structure of Ghee or Clarified butter consist of a mixture of higher softening point fats in crystalline form dispersed in the liquid lower softening point fats. This gives ghee or clarified butter a slightly granular, buttery texture. It has a complex rich slightly caramelized aroma which generates by the interaction of carbonyls, lactones and Free Fatty acids during the heating process. This characteristics ghee aroma is one of the major criteria for its wide acceptance. Along with caramelization during heating process, the presence of beta carotene gives ghee or clarified butter a golden yellow color.
Sometimes Ghee or clarified butter is prepared from fermented/ sour cream / cultured butter. Lactic Acid Bacteria develop a sharp “cultured” taste during fermentation which eventually develops more intense aroma and nuttier taste during heating process in ghee or clarified butter. Cultured Ghee or Clarified Butter has a consistent customer base for its high aroma. Moreover,
- Ghee or Clarified Butter is free from lactose and casein.
- It has a long shelf life due to low moisture content.
- It has antioxidative properties.
- High amount of beneficial fatty acids makes Ghee or clarified Butter nutritious dairy product with several therapeutic benefits.
Nutritional Aspects of Ghee:
- CLA (conjugated linoleic acid): Ghee or clarified butter contains Conjugated Linoleic Acid. Beneficial health effect of CLA includes,
- Antiatherogenic effect, altered nutrient partitioning, improved lipid metabolism, antidiabetic action (type II diabetes), immunity enhancement and improved bone mineralization.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids (Essential Fatty Acids): Omega-3 fatty acid is another healthy aspect of ghee or clarified butter. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to heart, brain, eye, and other tissue functions.
- Butyric acids: Ghee contains butyric acid, an essential short-chain fatty acid. It helps in digestion and contribute to a healthy digestive tract.
- Beta-carotene: Grass-fed Ghee or clarified butter contains higher concentration of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene is precursor for vitamin A, which is essential for retina function, healthy skin and prevention of infection. Beta-carotene also works as an antioxidant.
- Saturated fats: Ghee or clarified butter is loaded with saturated fat, which works as a filler food. Ghee is high in calorie and that is why on moderate consumption with tea coffee, etc. provide sustaining energy
- Ghee in diet at daily course along with active lifestyle can improve natural immunity of the consumers
Therapeutic Properties of Ghee or Clarified Butter:
Ghee or Clarified Butter has immense importance in Ayurveda due to its therapeutic properties.
- Ghee or Clarified Butter is in use to decrease inflammation. It is considered to promote health, growth and expansion of consciousness for centuries in Ayurveda.
- Ayurveda uses ghee in different herbal preparations for curing various diseases. Ghee acts as a carrier of various herbs and spices with medicinal properties as it improves absorption and assimilation of ayurvedic medicines.
- Ghee or Clarified Butter makes a wonderful body oil for massage and serve as a base for herbal ointments for burns, skin rashes or hair oil.
What makes ghee a popular cooking ingredient?
Ghee or Clarified Butter is considered superior to other cooking fats and oils. This is because of the presence of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K, characteristic short chain fatty acids and essential fatty acids. Daily consumption of ghee in the prescribed amount, imparts various health benefits. It increases physical and mental stamina, improve digestion, eyesight, enhances complexion and glow of the face and body, improve hair, binds toxins, help in weight loss in addition to providing sustaining energy. Apart from various health benefits the versatility of ghee as a cooking medium for any recipe from world cuisines make it a kitchen friendly product. Following reasons are grouped here to explain the reasons behind its popularity as cooking medium or as a food for daily consumption.
- Ghee or Clarified Butter is considered as ideal medium for deep frying, baking, roasting or any high heat cooking because of high smoke point (250 °C). This is well above the normal cooking temperatures (180-200°C) and smoke point of most of the vegetable oil.
- Ghee is nutritionally superior to other oils/fats because of its medium chain fatty acids (MCFAs) content. MCFAs are absorbed directly by the liver and burned to provide energy. Moreover, the energy from medium chain fatty acids is used to burn other fats in the system thereby supports weight loss.
- Ghee can stay self-stable for 12-18 months at room temperature and does not require refrigeration conditions to store.
- Ghee or clarified butter does not contain lactose or casein. Therefore, People with lactose or casein intolerance can consume it.
- Ghee or clarified butter when sourced from Grass-fed or Organic milk cream/ butter is rich in the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K and CLA (Conjugated Linoleic Acid), an antioxidant with anti-viral and anti-cancer properties.
- Ghee exclusively contains butyric acid, a short chain fatty acid which contributes to easy digestion.
- Ghee or clarified butter suitable for keto / ketogenic diet (no carbs diet) and also Paleo friendly.
Conventional vs Grass-Fed Ghee or Clarified Butter:
Ghee or clarified butter is consumed in daily life. Conventional Ghee may contain residues of pesticides, antibiotics, hormones those used on the dairy animals during conventional farming for increasing milk production. These have serious health impact. Apart from that sometimes inappropriate protein is fed to cows for stimulating the rapid growth or milk production. On the other side, Grass-fed Ghee is strictly produced from milk derived from ‘stress free’ or ‘happier’ grass fed cows raised on predominantly organic diet/ grass-fed dairying method. Here forage on pastures, fresh green grass, fresh herbage and/ or organic certified feeds are the source of nutrition for animals. All these factors are making the consumers to choose certified organic ghee or grass fed ghee over conventional one.
organic grass-fed or grass-fed Ghee is repeatedly reported to contains higher concentration of fat soluble vitamins, CLA and beta carotene.
Where to buy clarified butter?
- Customers can buy it online or offline but it has to be of pure quality. Check if the product, you have selected, is free from synthetic colour, flavour, or preservatives.
- Check whether the product is grass fed cow ghee (prepared from grass fed butter / cream). If you have selected organic ghee, then check if it is certified organic ghee or not. Also check if it is a pure ghee or blend with coconut oil, vegetable oil or olive oil.
- If have doubt to buy clarified butter online, know the manufacturer, the reliability of the profile, and the quality assurance certificate of the product you have shortlisted so far.
How to make homemade ghee or clarified butter: DIY process
- When making ghee, unsalted butter is recommended to obtain a pure and no salty flavor butter. Do not use salted butter.
- Cut the unsalted butter into small pieces to facilitate heat penetration, place the butter pieces into a saucepan to melt at low heat slowly without stirring it and don’t let it brown.
- Separate milk solids from butterfat, as the butter melt you can see it separate into three layers;
- The top layer is thin and foamy; this represents some of the milk solids.
- The middle layer is the bright golden butterfat.
- The bottom layer is made up of water and milk solids.
- When the butter starts boiling, skim off the white foam with a spoon. When the butter is finished melting you can see no foam on top.
- Remove the pan from the heat and let it be cool for about 5 minutes or more so that the solids in the pan gets settled at the bottom.
- Skim off the leftover bits of the foam that flow to the surface of the saucepan, slowly decant or pour off the clear butterfat into a glass liquid measuring cup carefully to leave much of the solid behind as you can.
- Line a fine mesh strainer with several layers of cheesecloth and set it over a heat proof container.
- Pour the warm butterfat through the cheesecloth to filter out any remaining milk solids.
- You can store your clarified butter ghee in an airtight container for several months.
- Clarified butter is not a usual dairy product, it is a complete natural product that is helpful for maintaining a well-balanced lifestyle.
- According to modern research pure cow ghee is better than any other cooking oil or dairy butter if can be used in moderation.
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