June 27, 2013
A few weeks ago, Matt and I dove headfirst into something called the Whole30 program. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this program, it is, in very basic terms, a highly restricted paleo-based diet that eliminates foods behind auto-immune issues and inflammation in the body. Because I, like so many other members of my family, suffer from a whole slew of autoimmune disorders, asthma included, I wanted to see if I had the power to alleviate my symptoms just by altering the foods I eat.
For those of you who are curious, Matt and I are 18 days into the program, and we've already noticed a whole load of encouraging positive changes. If you're interested in hearing an update about this once we're done (though we might extend our Whole30 to a Whole60+), I'll be happy to tell you how it's worked for me, but for now, lets get to the ghee!
Although fat consumption is encouraged in this program, it is very specific about the types of fats you can and cannot use. Unfortunately, this means that butter is not allowed, which was really difficult for me to accept at first. Mostly because I use butter to cook almost everything. Luckily, the problem with butter isn't the dairy fat, but with the milk proteins, which means that if you can find a way to eliminate the dairy solids (such as making ghee), you're good to go.
I've made homemade ghee in the past and loved it, but now it's a staple in my pantry. Especially because it's so easy to prepare. So now, whenever I see my favorite unsalted grass-fed butter on sale at the store, I load up on it so I can make large batches of ghee to keep me stocked up for months.
Even if you aren't on a paleo diet, ghee is an amazing addition to your pantry. It's delicious, has a high smoke point for cooking, and stays good for much longer than butter because you've boiled out all the dairy. To make your own homemade ghee:
Melt one or two pounds of unsalted grass-fed butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Once the butter melts completely and starts to boil, reduce heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, for ten to fifteen minutes, or until the milk solids begin to separate and sink to the bottom.
Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally so the milk solids don't burn, until they turn a golden brown color. This will help infuse the ghee with a rich, nutty flavor.
Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool for 15-20 minutes. In the meantime, clean and dry the jars you're using to store the ghee. For reference, each pound of butter will fill one pint jar.
Using a sieve and a double layer of cheesecloth, strain the ghee into the jars, and cover with lids and bands. Discard the milk solids, or store in the freezer for baking (they're actually quite tasty if you don't have an intolerance to dairy).
When the ghee has come to room temperature, it will solidify, but will remain soft enough to scoop out easily. You can store it in your cupboard for up to a month and it will remain shelf stable, or you can store it in the refrigerator indefinitely. I tend to make several jars at once, and store all but one at a time in the refrigerator.