Ghee, sometimes called clarified butter, is a staple in Indian cooking. It has a very distinct taste, and a much higher smoke point than oil, so it’s useful in all kinds of dishes. I’ve made ghee over the years the traditional way, which is to bring butter to a boil in a pot over direct heat and let it simmer “till it’s done.” Essentially, until the fat separates from the milk solids. Then you strain it through a cheesecloth so that you’re left with the clear ghee. Sadly, it often yielded mixed results for me. I’ve burned the butter, which is an awful smell… I’ve under-cooked it and the solids didn’t separate enough…. I’ve struggled with cleaning the pot, the cheesecloth, and everything else that comes in contact with pure fat! Until now!!! Although this isn’t a “recipe,” it is a technique I feel is worth sharing. It really simplifies the process (and clean-up), and while it’s not exactly the same end result, it’s close enough that I actually want to make it at home! The only challenge is finding the right sized equipment in your kitchen.
unsalted butter (I usually make 0.5-1 pound at a time)
Deep bowl or pitcher that is easy to pour from (use glass or stainless steel; I use the glass water jug pictured above)
Large pot that is big enough to hold the bowl/pitcher (I use a pasta pot)
Metal plate or ring to put on the bottom of the pot so that they bowl/pitcher is not touching the bottom of the pot. You can also use a deep steamer basket, as long as the bottom of the bowl/pitcher is still mostly covered by water.
Container for storing the finished ghee (I use glass or stainless steel)
Container for storing the milk solids
1. Gently place the the butter in the bowl/pitcher. Try not to let it smear too much on the sides (picture on the left)
2. Place the metal plate/ring on the bottom of the large pot. Then, place the bowl/pitcher on top of the metal plate/ring.
3. Fill the large pot with water. The water level should be higher than the top of the butter that is inside the bowl/pitcher, but lower than the top of the bowl/pitcher (you don’t want water to get inside when it boils).
4. Bring the water to a boil. Then turn the heat down and let it simmer until you see the milk solids sink, and a clear layer of ghee float to the top (picture on the right). There should be two very distinct layers. If in doubt, let it keep going. You cannot really overcook it using this method. For 0.5 pounds of butter, this process takes me about 30 minutes.
5. Slowly pour the ghee directly into a clean container for storage. Go very slowly so that you don’t agitate the milk solids that sank to the bottom. If you do it this way, you do not need to strain it through a cheesecloth.
6. Let the ghee cool completely before closing the lid. It will be solid when it’s completely cooled.
Important note: Don’t try to get every last drop of ghee since it will be very difficult to do so without also getting some of the milk solids. Whatever ghee you cannot easily pour off can be stored in the fridge with the milk solids and used in recipes (breads, rice, sauteed vegetables, etc). The ghee + milk solids taste delicious, so you’re not really losing out at all!