Makes 4 cups
Ghee is the traditional cooking oil used in Indian cuisine. It unites the diverse spices used in Indian cooking and adds a satisfying richness to the mostly vegetarian dishes. Yet ghee is useful far beyond Indian cuisine. It makes an excellent all-around cooking fat. It is made from butter and has the flavor of toasted butter, but unlike butter, ghee has a high smoking point (485 degrees F). It can be substituted directly for butter in most recipes and can be used for moderate-temperature sautéing or pan-frying. Making ghee at home is simple, but it requires about an hour of occasional monitoring. This recipe is based on the method described in The Ayurvedic Cookbook by Amadea Morningstar with Urmila Desai.
2 pounds high-quality, unsalted butter (preferably organic and grass-fed), chilled or at room temperature (see cooks note)
Place the butter in a heavy bottomed stock pot or Dutch oven. Heat over medium. When the butter is melted reduce the heat to medium-low (after about 5-10 minutes). Do not stir the pot. Milk solids collect on the bottom of the pot and shouldn’t be disturbed. As the butter begins to simmer expect crackling and popping sounds. The sounds will become less numerous then cease, after about 45-55 minutes. When the popping sounds stop remove from the heat. Ghee should ideally be removed from the heat while still golden yellow. Allowing it to cook further and brown adds a nice toasted flavor, but ghee can burn if over-cooked. Skim the surface to remove all of the accumulated film.
Store finished ghee in 4 half-pint (one cup) jars with tightly fitting lids. Use a fine-mesh strainer positioned over wide-mouth canning funnel to fill the jars. As you pour or ladle the ghee from the pot try not to disturb the milk solids in the bottom. (You might not need the strainer, but it’s a nice backup.) Store tightly covered, at room temperature for up to two weeks; or store tightly covered in the refrigerator for up to 6 months.
If you don’t need all 4 cups of ghee, this recipe can be halved. Instead of two pounds of butter, use one pound. The cooking times will be at the low end of the ranges given in the recipe.