Making ghee (clarified butter)

Discussion in 'Food' started by rsnurkle, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    My hometown has an Indian restaurant that thankfully catered to local (Midwestern American) tastes by offering a wide range of spice levels, so while I'm not keen on spicy food, I still got to enjoy a variety of Punjabi dishes growing up. My attempts to recreate my favorite recipes as an adult revealed that one ingredient in many dishes is a form of clarified butter known as ghee. Like clarified butter, ghee has had the water cooked out of it and the milk solids separated and removed, leaving just the butterfat. Unlike standard clarified butter, the milk solids are also browned before they are removed, so it has a slight nutty flavor to it (think browned butter).

    This clarification process raises ghee's smokepoint compared to butter, increases its shelf life at room temperatures and retains butter's ability to solidify at room temperatures. For me, this makes it a useful on-trail alternative to my favorite in-kitchen cooking fat (olive oil). I figured other bushcrafters may be interested in ghee, if they haven't already encountered it. I noticed some threads in the food and cooking subforums have posts that mention ghee, but didn't see a thread dedicated to it. So, enough chatter, let's make some!

    The recipe I usually follow is here: https://thehealthyfoodie.com/homemade-ghee/ but there are many recipes on the internet. Only ingredient: butter. Main tool: cooking container over heat source.
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    Here I decided to test ghee made with salted butter, but the usual recommendation is to use unsalted butter to reduce the amount of salt in the final product. I didn't notice any increased salt levels in the ghee itself, but the strained out milk products were very, very salty. Since butter is the only ingredient, work with whatever amount you've got and pick a pot that will allow for a bit of foaming above the level of the melted butter.

    Cutting up the butter helps it melt more evenly, so it isn't really necessary if you're patient, but how often to forum members pass up an opportunity to use a knife? :)
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    Butter into the pot, pot on medium heat to melt the butter.
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    After melting we're essentially heating enough to separate the components of butter. This was the first foaming stage for this batch.
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    Usually at this point I've started whatever my secondary kitchen project is, so I don't get too impatient with the melting butter, but am around to check on it and scrape anything off the sides and bottom to avoid the milk solids sticking and burning.

    Eventually the first foam will dissipate and not-quite-but-almost clear, and you'll be able to see the separated milk solids if you look closely.
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    Then, you'll get a second round of foam showing up.
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    This is where I check on how browned the milk solids look, and decide how impatient I'm feeling. I'm usually pretty impatient by this point, so my ghee doesn't get particularly nutty, but ghee can easily be customized in taste.
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    Woops, hey, where it'd all go?!
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    (cont'd)
     
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  2. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    While the butter was cooking, I put a nut milk bag (easier to clean and re-use than the cheesecloth I kept shredding) over a container with a pour spout.
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    Then once the second foam appeared, I took the pot off heat and poured the ghee through the woven bag to strain out the milk solids.
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    Here they are, separated
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    And here's the ghee in its new storage container.
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    (Go on, make a Bear Grylls joke to yourself.)

    What didn't fit into the main container was put into a smaller, travel-friendly container (on the left). The milk solids are on the right. As noted, the milk solids were very salty this time around, but some people make use of them for other cooking projects, so I'm going to see about putting them into mashed potatoes as an experiment in diluting the salt content.
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    By 2.5 hours later, the travel container had solidified (in a 68*F kitchen), and in the morning, the large container had fully followed suit.
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    A few days later I put the ghee container in my pack when I got outside for a walk and to test an alcohol stove.
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    I still managed to reach the smokepoint of it when I first started (hello titanium),
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    but cleaned the pot out and then in a second attempt successfully used it coat my oatmeal before adding the water. Yum.
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    For the curious, if you enjoy Ethiopian food, niter kibbeh is a seasoned clarified butter that may also be of interest when making recipes at home. And for anyone who's interested in non-dairy alternatives, coconut oil has similar trail-friendly qualities. I only recently sourced a low-cost tub of coconut oil, so ghee has historically been easier and cheaper for me to DIY.

    I'm planning to take this batch farther afield and coming back with more comments, but in the mean time, I hope this has sparked some ideas.

    If you ever find yourself far from the trailhead and facing a hungry horde when you've already consumed all by yourself mysteriously run out of the camp's supply of bacon fat, perhaps you'll think to yourself "Let them eat ghee!"
     
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  3. Kurt992

    Kurt992 Guide Lifetime Supporter Bushclass II

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    Thanks for the tutorial. My wife uses Ghee, so I will make sure I show this to her.
     
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  4. kronin323

    kronin323 the barbarian Supporter

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    Good one. You got it 100%. Well done.
     
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  5. PAcanis

    PAcanis Supporter Supporter

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    Great post.
    I've never made ghee, but I've certainly read enough about it. I could almost smell that butter melting :)

    BTW...
    You don't happen to have a bottle of Stadium Mustard in your fridge, too, do you? :rolleyes:
    I noticed the Cleveland Kraut jar... o_O

    Are we looking at a closet Browns fan living in Pgh? :18::18::18:
     
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  6. rsnurkle

    rsnurkle Supporter Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    That's great! The reference link has more detail than I gave, but it's title "easier than you think" is spot on. Hope she enjoys trying it out.

    Thank you!

    Hahaha, my roommate is the sauerkraut enthusiast (and reason for our jars) and that's the main brand our local grocery store stocks. I've only just dipped my toes into the deliciousness of their beet kraut recently, I'll keep an eye out for the proper brand of mustard to go with the kraut. :D
     
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  7. UAHiker

    UAHiker Supporter Supporter

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    never used ghee but i decided to make a batch myself awhile ago and still need to try it! very easy to make, so now i need to start cooking with it, maybe even make some popcorn with it!
     
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  8. Oni

    Oni Scout

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    Ghee was hard to find in my AO, but recently even the local Vons market carries several brands.

    Making your own is super cool though!

    Thanks for the tutorial!
     
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  9. UAHiker

    UAHiker Supporter Supporter

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    i could find it in my grocery stores pretty easily it was just so expensive i never bought it!
     
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  10. wvtracker14

    wvtracker14 Hobbyist Hobbyist Supporter Hardwoodsman

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    Thanks for the education, I had never heard of Ghee before. Looks like it could be a useful addition to the pack though.
     
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  11. PERRO

    PERRO Supporter Supporter

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    " Great Tutorial ". :dblthumb:

    For those of you that might run out and buy a Jar to tryout ??

    Pay close attention to the labeled ingredients ..:33:

    There's a " Butter Ghee ", made from natural Cows milk & or Buffalo Milk. :32:

    And theres also a " Vegggie Ghee " ( Margarine Veggie Based Type ) for the Vegans.
     
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  12. Red Yeti

    Red Yeti Mostly Harmless Hobbyist Supporter Bushclass I Bushclass II

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    Mmmmm Ghee.....

    Thanks for the great tutorial. I've used it before, but have not thought about it for trip food. I use coconut oil a lot when I'm out days, but this would add a nice variety. Hmmm.

    :38:
     
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