We talk a lot about ghee in Ayurveda. It is said to be the best oil to cook with and it turns out there are lots of good reasons.

From the Ayurvedic perspective, ghee is special because it is the only fat that is said to strengthen the digestive fire.

First of all, what is Ghee?

Ghee is clarified cultured butter. This means it is butter that has been separated out from yogurt. It has then been cooked over a low-medium heat until the water has been evaporated out. During this process, the casein and the lactose have solidified and separated out of the pure milk fat.

Ghee has a very well balanced combination of saturated and unsaturated fats. Fat contents and proportions vary a bit throughout the year and depending upon the cow, but the proportions are about 65% saturated fats, 25% monounsaturated fats and about 5% polyunsaturated fat content. Most of the saturated fat is made up of short chain fatty acids and about 3% of that is linoleic acid which has antioxidant properties.

Ghee also has a very high smoke point (485 degrees Farenheit), which makes it a very good cooking oil for all cooking styles. When an oil starts to smoke and burn, it releases free radicals–which damage cells. Since ghee has a high smoke point, it can be heated higher without this danger. In fact, ghee is very protective of cell membranes and can even repair damage to the membranes.

From the Ayurvedic perspective, ghee is special because it is the only fat that is said to strengthen the digestive fire. It is also very subtle and so can penetrate deeply into the tissues of the body to increase lubrication and cool inflammation. Ghee is said to be the most important medicine for pitta dosha.

How to make Ghee?

1. Put 1 pound or 1/2 kilo of unsalted, cultured butter in a heavy pot with a rather thick bottom and high sides. (If you have access to raw cow’s cream, you can make your own yogurt and then butter first).

2. Melt the butter over medium-low heat. When the melted butter starts boiling, it begins to foam and sputter a lot. Continue cooking (at a simmer) with the butter uncovered over medium-low heat. Cook it slowly, if you are in a rush you are likely to burn it.

3. While simmering, small white curds appear on the surface, and the amount of foam decreases. The solids progressively settle on the bottom of the pot. Pay attention to the sputtering; the melted butter should simmer in a way that you hear constant regular sizzling and spitting sounds.

4. As the butter ghee continues simmering, you’ll see that it becomes more and more transparent.

5. From time to time, use a wooden spoon to gently stir the surface of the boiling butter to better check the transparency of the melted butter. Don’t go deep with the wooden spoon; the purpose is not to stir but to check if the clarified butter is taking the lovely golden color so characteristic of ghee.

6. When the clarified butter has a golden transparent color and there is very little foam left on the surface, the ghee is ready. All solids should have settled in the bottom by now.

7. Take it off the heat at once as it can burn easily. You’ll notice a sweet popcorn-like smell, and that the sputtering and crackling has calmed down. After the butter has melted, the cooking time is about 30 minutes, depending on the heat source and the kind of pot you use.

As soon as it turns a beautiful golden color and begins to smell like popcorn, remove the ghee from the heat immediately. At this stage it can burn very quickly.

8. Let it cool a little bit. If you want to, you can strain the ghee by pouring golden liquid through a fine sieve or clean tea strainer into an earthen or glass jar. Discard the brownish curds at the bottom of the pot. Alternatively, you can line a large sieve with 2 or 3 layers of clean cotton cheesecloth to strain the clarified butter.

The writer – Susan Fauman,  Shehas trained classically in Hatha Yoga and Ayurveda for almost 15 years, spending more than 2 years studying in India with Ayurvedic doctors and healers. I am a passionate educator and speaker in college classrooms, yoga studios and at professional conferences. I have training in western and Ayurvedic herbal formulation and in diet and nutrition through the lenses of Ayurveda and classical Taoist medicine. I am also a skilled bodyworker, weaving Shiatsu massage technique into deep-tissue massage and Ayurvedic body treatments.– visit www.foodsleepandsex.com


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