November 13, 2020

Learning How To Make Ghee

I don't get a lot of cream from my goats' milk, so I've adjusted how I use it. That means, it accumulates faster than I can use it, so I end up storing it in the freezer. When I want cream for ice cream, whipped cream, cheesecake, or butter, I defrost what I need. But eventually, I need the freezer space for something else, and that's what got me thinking about learning to make ghee.

Butter is fat plus a little remaining water (as whey) and milk solids (proteins). Much of this is washed out in the last step making butter.

Washing goat butter to remove residual whey.

Even so, some of these remain and that's what can give old butter an off-flavor. It's also why butter smokes when heated too high. If the water and solids are removed, however, the result is pure butterfat, which is shelf-stable. It can be stored for months without refrigeration and has a low smoking point, making it a very useful product. There are two forms of this - clarified butter and ghee. Ghee has a nuttier flavor because because the milk solids are browned a bit after the butter melts. Clarified butter is commonly used in French cooking, while ghee is used in Indian cuisine.

I'm not an expert at ghee making yet, but I'm starting to get the hang of it; at least enough to share some pictures and explanations. It starts with unsalted butter. Plop it in a pot and turn on the heat to medium. Then watch for three things: fine foamy bubbles, large airy bubbles (from simmering), and the milk solids floating to the top of the simmering butter. The foam forms first.

After it melts, it begins to bubble and foam. Stir gently and watch.

In every tutorial I've read or watched, the bright golden yellow color is mentioned somewhere along the way. I'm using butter made from goat cream, so I won't get that beautiful color because goat milk lacks beta carotene. It's the beta carotene that gives cow butter its yellow color. My goat butter and butter products are very pale in comparison. The color variations you see in this series of photos are due to whether or not the camera auto-flash engaged.

The simmering butter is stirred gently until the foam dissipates and the milk solids form and float on the surface of the simmering butter. Turn the heat down to medium-low.

As the foam (fine bubbles) disappears, the milk solids begin to rise and float.

For clarified butter, you can skim the milk solids and then strain the melted butter through cheesecloth. For ghee, simply stop stirring and continue to watch. Soon it looks like this...

The milk solids sink to the bottom of the pan.

If you look carefully, you see surface bubbles, but
also the milk solids lying on the bottom of the pot.

Now the milk solids are allowed to brown until the butter starts to foam a second time.

When the butter starts to foam again, the ghee is done.

Then it's removed from the heat and strained.

I use a fine strainer, but several layers of
cheesecloth would improve the product.

Some people actually discard the browned milk solids, but I would at least feed them to the chickens! Others recommend them as a popcorn topping, and they'd be good in an au gratin topping too. I've eaten them myself because they're too tasty to waste.

I spent too much time fiddling with the camera, so my scrapings are a little
dark. Usually, they are more of a golden brown, but at least they didn't burn(!)

The jars are then lidded and placed on a pantry shelf for storage.

Maybe a little difference in color depending on the browning of the milk solids.

The ghee on the right is the batch made in the photos. The jar on the left has been stored in the pantry since April. It's my test batch for non-refrigerated storage.

The other day, I made some from unsalted cow butter because I was curious about the color. Here's how the two compare ...

Cow ghee on the left, goat ghee on the right.

For the uninitiated, I'm pretty sure the one on the left looks more appealing.

A pound of butter yields about a pint of ghee. It can be used the same way butter is, and since it doesn't smoke when heated, is excellent for sauteing. Plus, it frees up room in the freezer. 😺

Any ghee or clarified butter fans out there? What's your favorite use for it? Recipes?

And here we go again, another shameless plug for one of my little how-to eBooks. This time for the revised edition of How To Get Cream From Goats's Milk: make your own butter, whipped cream, ice cream, and more. It now contains more photos, more information, and updated links. It includes how to make clarified butter and ghee!

For more information or where to buy, click here
Learning How To Make Ghee © November 2020


wyomingheart said...

This is a great tutorial, Leigh! I have not made any ghee yet, but I wouldn’t be afraid to try it now. We have used ghee for years, because when we lived in Florida, we could not leave butter out of the fridge because it would mold. No one wants to put cold butter on toast, hence we could keep ghee on the counter, and it wouldn’t mold, and like you said, it stores out of the fridge, perfectly. The only real difference I have noticed between butter and ghee is the salt taste, but that is easily remedied with a shake or two, ☺️. I often wondered if you could use goat milk in the same way that one would use cow milk, and thanks for clearing that up!

daisy g said...

Love that you're using what you have on the homestead, as I've never seen a recipe for goat milk ghee.

I've made it in the oven as well. Much easier, as long as you can keep checking on it. I saw the tutorial on "Off Grid with Doug and Stacy". You can find it here:

Enjoy your lovely ghee!

Ed said...

I'm always learning by stopping here to read your posts! My wife does cook some Indian cuisine from time to time but I don't know if she uses Ghee or not. If she does, it would be something she bought from the store.

Back when I was a young lad, I occasionally stayed at a neighboring Amish house if something came up for my parents. I remember them processing an entire cow and doing things like making butter from milk. Unfortunately I was too young to pay attention to details but if I could go back in time, it would fascinate me now.

Leigh said...

Wyomingheart, our problem here, is that butter melts at "room temperature!" lol. Not sure ghee will help with that but it's been doing okay in the pantry. Like anything new, it takes some practice and experience to feel consistent. but it's forgiving and the product can still be used!

Depending on the breed of goats, goat milk can be used exactly the same ways cow milk can. :)

Daisy, Stacy's was one of the first videos I looked at. I was intrigued that she makes her's in the oven. Something I may try one of these days!

Ed, so your folks didn't keep a milk cow? Making various dairy products is a lot of fun. Ghee is very easy to make and I'm guessing cheaper to make than by it ready made.

Boud said...

I learned to make ghee many years ago, for use in curries. It's a while since I've made it. Maybe I should again. It's great for sauteing because it doesn't burn and smoke. I have access only to cow's butter, though. Goat products harder to come by. said...

Once again you have taught me! I have seen ghee in the store but I didn't know what is was used for nor that it was shelf stabel because I saw it with the butters in the refrigerted section. Thank you so m uch for your great tutorial and the photos! Excellent!

Rosalea said...

Yes Leigh. I've made clarified butter to take on a canoe trip, because it doesn't need refrigeration. Good to know that goat's milk can do the same things as cow's milk.

Kelly said...

This is interesting and I've shared the post with my daughter who has used ghee in the past (since it's good for those who are lactose intolerant). I've never tasted it, but I don't eat any type of dairy anymore.

Leigh said...

Boud, I think it's a really handy product to keep around. And really, I doubt it matter much whether it's cow or goat. The only tell-tale sign is the color!

Sam, interesting it was kept in the refrigerator section! In our stores, it's right on the shelves with the other oils and fats. You should give it a try!

Rosalea, making it for canoe trips is a great idea! It would be good for camping trips too.

With goats, it depends on the breed. Not all breeds have a good quantity of butterfat in their milk, so it's harder to get cream from them. I'll also say it takes me longer to get cream to make butter because goats give less cream, but it's enough to keep me in ice cream! :)

Kelly, yes, it would be great for folks who are lactose intolerant, since the lactose has been removed. Pretty easy to make too.

Cockeyed Jo said...

It's the milk fats in regular canned butter that imparts flavor and texture in baking. I'll admit to preferring ghee when cooking. So I can both for the shelf.

Leigh said...

Jo, I suspect that at least one of my batches is more clarified butter like and less ghee like, but I'm not enough of a connoisseur to be able to tell the difference at this point. I should have added that I used my vacuum sealer to put on the lids. Just as an extra step to preserve freshness!

Ed said...

No, my parents were primarily grain farmers though did dabble in chickens and bees early in their farming career and hogs in the last years of their career. Cattle require a lot of fencing work to contain them and a lot of sub marginal ground that is better for grazing than farming and we didn't have a lot of good fencing or poor ground.

Leigh said...

Keeping dairy animals is a lot of work. Fencing, decent pasture, grain, and access to a male to keep the milk supply going! As with everything else, it's all about weighing the work versus the benefits. Sometimes one wins out, sometimes the other.

Rain said...

Nice Leigh! I haven't ventured into butter making or ghee making because I don't have access to good pure cream. What a treat! I like the idea of the little bits on popcorn too! :)

Florida Farm Girl said...

How interesting. Grew up helping make butter but never any cheeses or other products.

Annie in Ocala said...

Thank you for posting this! I have read about ghee but never tried to make it. I do make butter from my goat milk an wondered how much more was involved in making it. Now I will give it a try soon as time allows. I've never used ghee so that will be a new experience to!

Leigh said...

Rain, nothing should go to waste! Hopefully, one of these days you'll have your own milk source for cheese, butter, and other goodies.

Sue, I guess it depends on what the milk is needed for. I have to admit we love our cheese. And kefir. And ice cream. :)

Annie, it's really not hard at all. Ghee is a little different from table butter, but it's still good.

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

Leigh - Like lots of other things, I have read about ghee making but never done it. Now, I have pictures.

On behalf of my family who suffers through some of my experiments, thank you!

Nancy In Boise said...

I have used browned butter before with Mizithra cheese on pasta, delish! Didn't know these were shelf stable. Another good item for the pantry!

Leigh said...

TB, I doubt there will be any suffering involved if you experiment with this. :)

Nancy, agreed! That's the real appeal, isn't it? Another great stock-up item.

GiantsDanceFarm said...

This post made my mouth water! My family jokes that because we're Polish, butter is one of the food groups. I make ghee, garlic butter ghee, and browned butter with a local Amish made cow's cream butter.

I will say, using a pan with a white interior like a white enamel pan makes it WAY easier to see the color of the butter. Since I've been doing that I haven't burned butter once.

I don't go to the trouble of taking to foam off the cooking butter as many people do. I just cook it longer on a lower temp when I'm going to be in the kitchen for a bit and can check on it frequently. I simply let the water cook off, and the solids sink to the bottom. I use a very small screen strainer and it catches all the browned bits. I NEVER throw those away! They go into the fridge or freezer and I use it on veggies - cauliflower is amazing - or in pasta dishes or add to potato dishes. YUM!

Leigh said...

Oh my, garlic butter ghee sounds fantastic! Do you just add chopped garlic and strain it off with the other solids when you're done?

The tip about using a white enamel pan is excellent. I'll have to see if I can find one for this purpose.