This article was originally published in April 2016
What is ghee?
Ghee is a clarified butter with a high smoke point and long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine and cooking. It’s a concentrated source of the fats and fat-soluble vitamins in butter, offering a rich, sweet flavor and aroma — a little can go a long way in cooking.
Why use ghee?
Butter burns when heated to 350° F but ghee can be heated up to 485° F without creating harmful oxidized fats, making it a versatile cooking oil to stock in your kitchen pantry. In fact, ghee does not need to be refrigerated and can stay fresh in your pantry for several months. Ghee remains soft and spreadable, unlike butter, which needs to be brought to room temperature in order to spread.
The process of clarifying butter into ghee removes the lactose and casein proteins from the butter, making ghee a good choice for those avoiding lactose and/or casein, a common allergen.
Similar to butter, ghee is primarily saturated fat, but it also contains vitamins A, D, E and K2. Ghee (and butter) are the highest food sources of butyric acid, a saturated fat that offers numerous benefits for our digestive system. Grass-fed ghee also provides CLA, a fatty acid with many health benefits.
Wait, isn’t butter bad for my health?
Our bodies require fats in our diet to provide essential nutrients and to assist with nutrient absorption. The biggest concern with adding ghee or butter to your diet is its high caloric content, just like all cooking oils. Practitioners of Ayurveda, an ancient medical system originating in India, consider ghee to be the healthiest source of fat and believe it promotes longevity, protects the body from disease and increases our digestive “fire.” Learn more about the potential health benefits of butter, ghee and other foods rich in saturated fat.
Ghee at PCC
You’ll find grass-fed ghee at your neighborhood PCC from Tava Life in Original, Vanilla Bean and Himalayan Sea Salt flavors. Certified organic ghee from Organic Valley Purity Farms also is available.
Make your own ghee!
Get our recipe for Homemade Ghee.
10 ways to use ghee
You can substitute ghee for other cooking oils and swap it for butter. Here are 10 ways to incorporate it into your meals.
Note: Use a clean utensil when cooking with ghee to prevent moisture from getting in the jar, which will cause it to spatter during cooking. A dirty spoon also can cause ghee to go rancid.
1. Spread it on toast or bagels.
2. Scramble or fry eggs in ghee.
3. Warm with maple syrup and drizzle over pancakes or French toast.
4. Stir into cooked rice or dal/lentil soup.
5. Toss root veggies in ghee and roast ’til tender.
6. Sauté fresh garlic in ghee and pour over warm bread.
7. Mash into baked potatoes with sour cream and chives.
8. Melt and toss into fresh popcorn.
9. Use it in place of butter in cakes and cookies.
10. Sauté apple slices in ghee, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
And you can take it camping — it’s shelf stable!