Foodies are asking: What is Ghee?

What is ghee? Simply put, ghee is Indian clarified butter. To make ghee, butter is slowly simmered until the water evaporates and the milk solids separate from the butterfat. When the milk solids have just begun to caramelize, the ghee is removed from the heat and strained to remove the solids – leaving pure, golden, slightly nutty-tasting butterfat behind. This pure butterfat is known as ghee. Like butter, ghee solidifies when cold, and at room temperature it is soft and spreadable. When heated, it melts, and has one of the highest smoke points of all cooking fats – making it ideal for high-heat sautéing and baking.

Why separate milk solids from butterfat?

Most store-bought butter contains 80% butterfat, 12-16% water, and 4% milk solids. The fat carries fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. The solids consist of protein, carbohydrates (mainly lactose) and minerals like calcium and phosphorous. Lactose can be irritating to many a gut. You’ve probably heard about lactose intolerance – which is widespread among humans, and symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on one’s sensitivity.

Another reason to remove the milk solids is that the solids burn at a lower temperature than the pure fat. Regular butter has a smoke point of 350 degrees – while ghee doesn’t smoke until it reaches 485 degrees! By straining out the milk solids, you still get the beneficial fat-soluble vitamins and the silky-smooth mouthfeel of butter – without the irritating effects of lactose, and with greater stability and versatility thanks to its higher smoke point.

What is ghee according to Ayurveda?

We’ve answered the question of “what is ghee” according to modern, Western definitions. But what is ghee according to the tradition it originated from? Ghee has been used for thousands of years in India. Ayurveda is the ancient Indian science of health, and it teaches that ghee has the unique power to increase our capacity to digest, absorb, and assimilate food. And Ayurveda assigns even more benefits to this special food:

It increases the quality of Sattva (peace/contentment)  in the mind and also directly nourishes Ojas (our immune system) as well as Prana (our lifeforce) and all of our Dhatus (tissues). It increases intelligence, refines the intellect and improves the memory. It also lubricates the organs and connective tissues, making the body more flexible. Ghee increases the strength, luster and beauty of the body, slows the aging process and improves our longevity! It is also an excellent wound healer so is helpful with both internal wounds (such as ulcers) and external wounds (especially rashes and burns). It improves the quality of the skin and can even be used as a moisturiser! Ghee has long been used in Ayurveda as a vehicle for administering medicines due to is subtle nature and ability to penetrate the deeper tissues of the body. – Source: Mudita Institute & Health Clinic

How do we use ghee at Nourish?

Now that you’ve learned the answer to the question of what is ghee, you might be ready to try it. For that, Nourish Wellness Cafe is the perfect place to go. We incorporate ghee into several menu items – and we source our ghee locally, from Greenfield, MA-based Full Moon Ghee. We love to spread it on sprouted rye toast from Tart Baking Co. or gluten-free bread from Woodstar Café. We also offer ghee as an optional mix-in with several delicious beverages, for a luxurious-feeling hit of healthy, lactose-free fat.

Visit us in Downtown Northampton for ghee-licious, organic food and drink!

Sources for This Article:

Butter 101: Clarified Butter, Ghee, and Brown Butter – A Beautiful Plate
Healthiest Cooking Oil Comparison Chart – Baseline of Health Foundation
Milk Definitions – International Dairy Foods Association
Ghee: The Ayurvedic Perspective – Mudita Institute & Health Clinic

Image Source: Full Moon Ghee

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