Ghee, or clarified butter, seems to be the trendy item on the shelves at local grocery stores lately. When I first saw this, I was surprised as I always recalled my mother making it herself at home in large batches growing up. I never really felt it was time-consuming or difficult to make. But, then again I never had to make it myself. So, I asked my mom to show me how she makes it. The delight in her eyes at my interest in something I normally take for granted warmed my heart as we set about making a batch of ghee together one gloomy Saturday afternoon. 

Ghee is not too tricky. Over the years, my mom has found that cultured butter makes the best tasting product, and has less spluttering, making for a smoother ghee making process. The main thing to remember is once the butter begins to boil, to keep an eye on the pot and look out for brown flecks at the bottom of the pan. You don’t want to simply melt the butter and remove it from the pot because you won’t have completed the ghee making process. The other reason you should keep an eye on the pot is to prevent the light brown flecks from becoming dark or black, thus burning your ghee.

South Asian cooking uses ghee in a multitude of ways, most commonly in desserts and sweets. It also provides its distinct flavor in tadkas and enhances something as simple as rice. Compared to butter, it has a stronger butter fat flavor and higher smoke point for sautéing without the milk solids. It is a staple in my pantry because of its versatility in the kitchen, plus it helps make naankhatai in a pinch. 

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Homemade Ghee

  • Cook Time: 45 minutes
  • Total Time: 3-4 hours
  • Yield: ~ 1 pound ghee
  • Category: Basics

Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 pound unsalted butter, preferably cultured butter

Instructions

  1. Place butter in medium heavy bottomed saucepan over medium heat
  2. Let butter melt, and leave on medium heat
  3. Once melted, the butter will begin to boil. Let it boil for 15 minutes on medium heat. You will notice foam at this stage, which is normal. If foam appears, decrease heat to low to let foam decrease, then increase heat to medium
  4. After 15 minutes, decrease heat to low. Lightly stir melted butter. At the bottom of the pan, you will notice light brown specks. This is how you know it is done. 
  5. Remove from heat and pour through a fine mesh strainer into storage container (I prefer a glass dish with a locking lid)
  6. Let sit uncovered for 2-3 hours until set. Store at room temperature in airtight container.