If you’re a fan of Indian-inspired cuisine, you probably recognize one of the main ingredients called ghee. It is an ever-present condiment in Indian homes and is often referred to as “liquid gold.” Did you know that this classic butter product can offer you several health benefits?
Anthropologists say that the first humans were first nomadic hunters and gatherers. After domesticating grazing animals like sheep, goats, cows, and yaks, they eventually added animal milk to their diets. Like many inventions that changed the world, dairy products like butter, yogurt, and cheese were probably invented by accident.
Historians of food believe that the process of churning butter was discovered around 4000 BC. C. in the East. It wouldn’t take long for the popularity of this creamy concoction to spread throughout the known world. People invented butter churn and used dairy as an essential staple in most kitchens around the world.
The beginnings of Ghee
In the modern Western world, people often think of butter as a product of cow’s milk. However, butter can be produced from other large mammals. For thousands of years, eastern countries have enjoyed delicious butter made from the milk of sheep, goat, buffalo, and yaks.
Although butter will be stable at room temperature, warmer weather can cause it to melt and go rancid. Most of India has a tropical climate, making it difficult to keep butter before refrigeration. The heat is incredibly oppressive in the northeast section of India, so people discovered a way to stabilize butter in hot weather.
No one knows how they came up with the idea of cooking butter until the milk solids and water evaporated, leaving pure butterfat behind. But once these early food scientists did, they found that it would stay fresh and delicious even in scorching weather. The discovery was probably around 2000 BC. C., and the Indians called their creation ghee.
It was so revered in India that they called this butter product the “holy fat”. The holy Hindu scriptures say that the gods sent it as a gift. They not only used it for cooking, but also used it as a health tonic and for religious ceremonies.
The sacred candles in the temple are still often made from butter. Since this dairy wonder lasts a long time and requires no refrigeration, it was not long before it became popular around the world. In Europe and the West, this creation is often called clarified butter. After the milk and water solids have cooked and evaporated, the remaining butterfat has a delicious nutty flavor.
If you are following a healthy diet, should you consider using this ingredient? After all, it is pure fat and you have been trying to avoid fatty dairy products. The good news is that clarified butter is a healthy fat that you can use in moderation.
DIY Clarified Butter
Most grocery stores sell jars of mass-produced ghee in the lard and oils section. You may find yourself in a crash with the stickers because it is not cheap. Fortunately, a little goes a long way and can last up to three months on your counter or up to a year in the fridge.
If you want to save a little money and learn a valuable skill, you can easily make this butter product at home. All you need is a pound of quality unsalted butter. You will also need a sterile jar and lid to store the finished product.
Cut the butter into roughly equal small pieces and set aside. In a Dutch oven or heavy skillet over medium heat, add the butter and stir gently until melted. Reduce the heat to low and bring the liquid to a simmer. Note that butter and margarine are not the same, so you must use real butter.
As the liquid simmers, it will begin to bubble and the milk solids will separate. These solids will rise to the surface, leaving water and grease underneath.
Carefully use a spoon to remove the solids from the floating milk. You can sell them in a container in the refrigerator to flavor mashed potatoes or steamed vegetables. Continue to remove the solids from the milk until there is nothing floating on the surface.
Although the milk solids are removed from the surface, you will notice that some have remained on the bottom. Let them continue to simmer in the liquid until they turn a light caramel color. This will give the final product its characteristic warm, nutty flavor.
As soon as you notice that the bottom solids have browned, immediately remove the pan from the heat. Set it aside and let it cool for about five minutes.
Use a fine mesh strainer and three layers of cheesecloth to strain the liquid into a glass measuring cup. Discard the solids and carefully pour the golden liquid into your storage jar. You can keep it on the counter for up to three months or keep it in your refrigerator for up to a year.
Remember that your butterfat will turn into a smooth solid at room temperature. You can use a spoon to scoop out what you need at a time. In the unlikely event that the grease becomes discolored or has an unpleasant odor, discard it.
Ten possible health benefits of ghee
Ghee has a higher smoking point and is ideal for frying and sautéing. If you are lactose intolerant, you can still enjoy this product because the lactic acid is gone. Besides cooking, here are ten health benefits you can receive when using ghee.
1. It’s good for your heart
While this dairy product has saturated fat, it is also a valuable source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Your body needs a certain amount of these “good fats” for healthy cardiovascular and brain health. Again, moderation is the key.
2. Sleep better
Who would believe that enjoying a tasty butter product would help you sleep better? In the ancient traditions of Indian Ayurvedic medicine, many Indians use ghee as a massage oil. Some Ayurvedic doctors recommend rubbing a little of this liquid gold on your temples to help you relax and sleep.
3. Soothe the pain of arthritis
If you have arthritis or other joint problems, you know how painful it can be. Some research suggests that consuming moderate amounts of this butter product can help reduce painful inflammation. It may be one of the healthy fats your body needs to lubricate your joints.
4. It can benefit the cells of your body
Common chemical reactions in your body often leave free radicals floating in your bloodstream. In their efforts to bond with other molecular material, these rogue radicals attack and damage cells throughout the body. This pure butterfat provides several antioxidants that can defend your cells against this damage.
5. It can boost your immune system
Like all other systems in your body, your immune system requires essential vitamins and minerals for optimal performance. This delicious butterfat provides the usual dairy vitamins A, K, E and D. These nutrients can boost your immunity and keep disease at bay.
6. Possible benefits for the digestive system
Although dairy products provide calcium and vitamin D and K essential for healthy bones and teeth, they are often harmful to the digestive system. Here’s some great news for people who have been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
When you consume this butter product, it can help soothe and repair the damage to the stomach lining. Also, you don’t need to worry if you can’t tolerate dairy products because they are lactose free. It can also help you digest your food better.
7. It can promote the healing of burns and wounds.
Did you know that many people in India use ghee as a topical ointment? Since some of its compounds have anti-inflammatory properties, it can be used for minor wounds and burns. It can reduce swelling and promote healing.
8. Use it as an ideal moisturizer
It is no wonder that many Indians prefer to use their liquid gold as natural moisturizer. The rich vitamins and butterfat can soothe and repair dry skin, making it soft and supple. You can also use a little as a conditioner for shiny, healthy hair.
9. It can help you lose weight
Consuming milk fat can go against everything you have come to believe about losing weight. This butter product is an excellent source of beneficial fats such as CLA and Omega 3 fatty acids. Studies have linked these good fats to the reduction of fat cells while building lean muscle.
10. Use it for better eye health
This possible benefit may be hard to believe, but thousands of years of anecdotal evidence from India may convince you. If your eyes are dry, itchy, and tired, most Ayurveda practitioners recommend ghee for a healthy eye wash. Just a couple of drops in each eye can nourish and soothe them while toasting essential vitamins for better eye health.
Once you taste the smoky, caramel-like goodness of this liquid gold, you’ll wonder why you hadn’t tried it years ago. Not only is it delicious, but research has linked it to several potential health benefits. Find out the delicious benefits of this butter product and why many people in India consider it a food of the gods.