Nothing compares to the smooth, velvety taste of butter. It’s no wonder this food has become a flavor adjective to all things tasty. And yes, it gets even better when put under fire.
I’d like to introduce you to Ghee, the clarified form of butter. Ghee is made by treating conventional butter with heat so that the milk solids, excess moisture, and impurities rise to the top, then skimming off these particles off to unveil a purified/clarified form of butter that is shelf stable.
Used by the ancients for years, this high quality form of butter is known have a more pleasing taste and smoother mouth feel than ordinary butter. The increased smoke point makes it a better cooking agent for high heat dishes (400˚-500˚F) such as sautés and broiled foods compared to unclarified butter which has smoke point of 325˚-375˚F. While a better for certain baked goods, butter can give off a bitter flavor at higher heats due to oxidization of the fat. Plus, heating a fat past its smoke point can destroy phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Now, you may be wondering why a nutrition and health blog is promoting a saturated fat. Isn’t it a health risk?
Here’s my reasoning:
- Saturated fat is not as evil as it’s often made out to be. In fact, much depends on our source of saturated fat. Dairy fat is known to have more health benefits than risks.
- Moreover, studies show that diets containing under 6% of calories from saturated fat is not necessarily healthy. Especially if the fat calories are being replaced with refined carbohydrates and sugar. As always, moderation is key!
- USDA dietary guidelines suggest an intake of 10% of calories from saturated fat. In regards to incorporating ghee into the diet, I recommend sticking to a serving of 1 tbsp. or less per day (about 5% of a 1800 calorie diet) to leave room for other saturated fat sources such as meats and cheese.
- Lastly, ghee is composed of 25% medium chain fatty acids vs. butter, which contains only 12-15%. Medium chain fatty acids (MCFA) are easier for the body to absorb than long chain fatty acids. Thus, they are associated with a decreased risk of cardiovascular disease and decrease GI upset.
Good flavor + good health= a win/win situation
Try creating your own ghee.The smooth buttery aroma that fill the home makes it a satisfying event. A variation of recipes exist, some even add spices and herbs. See below for a classic version.Alternately you could always purchase Ghee at health stores or ethic markets.
- 1 lb. unsalted butter
- Special equipment: Cheese cloth
- Add butter to a saucepan and melt over medium-high heat.
- Let the butter come to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. During this time a foam layer will rise to the top and light brown milk solids will sink to the bottom of the pan. This should take around 7-8 minutes.
- Once you see a distinct separation of solids, use the cheese cloth to strain the butter into an airtight container.
- Discard the milk solids.
- Homemade ghee will keep for 1 month in a airtight container.
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