Meet butter’s exotic brother from another mother: ghee. Ghee is a variation of clarified butter that originated in India. Now, it’s taking the health-conscious U.S. by storm.
According to MyRecipes, clarified butter is unsalted butter that is heated gently until the milk solids separate from the liquid and drift to the bottom of the pan. Foam is then quickly skimmed off of the surface, and voila! Liquid gold. Removing the milk solids gives the butter a higher smoke point, making it ideal for high cooking temperatures, and prevents it from spoiling as quickly. Full disclosure: it doesn’t offer quite as rich of a taste compared to regular butter.
So what’s different about ghee, and more importantly, why would anyone consider substituting it for the good, ol’ fashioned butter mama taught us to love?
Well, according to registered dietician Hannah Burkhalter, ghee is like clarified butter taken a step further. When ghee is made, the butter is simmered until all of the moisture evaporates and the milk solids brown slightly. The result is the browned, nutty and caramel-like taste and aroma ghee is known for. Like other clarified forms of butter, ghee has a longer shelf life and a smoke point at 375 degrees, making it ideal for sautéing and searing. It can be refrigerated for six months or frozen for a year.
Even more appealing, Burkhalter writes, are ghee’s potential health benefits. “Ghee is more tolerable for those who have sensitivities to lactose, because the milk solids have been removed,” she says in her MyRecipes article. “That said, it's still made from dairy, so those with more serious dairy allergies should steer clear.”
Interested in trying it for yourself? Find out how you can make your own ghee here.