There’s nothing quite like the flavor and aroma of ghee, a common ingredient in many Indian dishes. However, it is often quite expensive when bought prepared. Getting that authenic flavor by making your own is both affordable and easy.
- A pound of unsalted butter will give you about a cup and a half of ghee. Using unsalted butter is important, but that is readily available in most grocery stores and does not typically cost more than the usual butter. If using a single pound of butter, use a heavy 4 quart pan. If using a few pounds to make enough ghee to last you a while, use a bigger pot.
- Cut the unsalted butter into chunks, put it in the pot, and melt it over medium heat. Stir it frequently and watch it closely. You do not want to let it brown or scorch.
- When it is melted, increase the heat a bit, not quite all the way to high, but close. Do not walk away for an instant. Watch for the butter to come to a boil. You’ll see a white foam rise up. Stir it down gently and reduce heat right away to as low as it will go without turning off.
- Leave it to simmer, uncovered. Just let it be, don’t touch it and don’t stir it. You can go about your business, returning to look at it carefully every now and then. This should take about an hour, maybe a bit less and probably a bit more. It depends on whether you have a gas or electric stove and just how low low is on your stove.
- When all of the milk solids of the butter have settled to the bottom and you see clear, golden liquid remaining, the cooking is done.
- The next step is filtering or straining the ghee. This serves to remove the particles of milk solids that will get stirred up again when you move the pan to pour. You are going to pour the ghee through either a clean linen cloth (one that was not washed with any type of fabric softener to leave residue on it), 3 or 4 layers of clean cheese cloth, or — what I do — a sheet or two of a good quality paper towel.
I use paper towels because so many laundry detergents are scented and have other substances that can cling to the cloth and potentially taint the ghee, adversely affecting its flavor.
- Line a wire sieve with your filtering selection and slowly pour your ghee through, repeating the process three times. Many manufacturers of ghee market theirs claiming to filter it 7 times. Feel free to do so, but I’ve found that for my purposes, 3 is sufficient. The last filtering should be into a clean storage container.
It should be noted that 3 times filtering works for me because I store my ghee in the refrigerator. As long as all — as in each and every particle — of the milk solids are removed, ghee can be stored in a crock without refrigeration.
I used to store mine in a crock on the counter. Once, though, I missed a particle or two during filtering, and later opened a crock containing a foul smell and pounds of wasted butter. Since then, I’ve always kept it in the refrigerator, so that all is not ruined if I happen to miss a single, minute particle. If I need it in liquid form for drizzling, I just melt it over low heat.
You can use your ghee as soon as it is strained, and store the rest for your next great Indian dish.