What Is Ghee?

What is ghee? We did our research and collected all the most frequently asked questions about ghee into one handy dandy piece of content of your perusal. 

I’m on the record as a fan of butter. Really, I’m a fan of dairy, and butter is sort of the most refined of all dairy products, since it comes from the cream skimmed off the top. But did you know that there’s an even more buttery form of butter? It’s true! It’s called clarified butter, and there is an ancient version of it known as ghee that is essential to many recipes in India and surrounding areas. But what exactly is ghee? How do you make it? Let’s clarify! 

What is ghee?

Ghee (which is pronounced like the “gee” in “geese,” not the “gee” in “gee whiz”) is a form of butter that comes from the Indian subcontinent. It has a tremendous number of uses, both culinary and not, and again, it is butter, so it is obviously delicious. 

Is ghee clarified butter?

Yes, ghee is a form of clarified butter. It’s cooked longer during the milk separation process than standard clarified butter, caramelizing the milk solids. That’s what gives the ghee its nutty flavor even after the solids are filtered out. 

What is ghee made of?

Ghee is a form of clarified butter. So, like the butter you buy in the dairy aisle, it’s made from cream. Ghee also may include spices such as turmeric, mustard seed, and cumin for additional flavor.

How do you make ghee?

Essentially, you heat butter on the stovetop until the whey separates and rises to the top. Skim that foam off and keep cooking until the milk solids fall to the bottom. If you stopped cooking now and strained the liquid, you’d have standard clarified butter! If you want to make ghee, cook a little longer, browning the milk solids (but not burning them) and giving the ghee its characteristic nutty flavor. Then strain the milk solids out and save that golden liquid fat. It’s easy as one, two, ghee. 

What does ghee taste like?

If you’re wondering, “Does ghee taste like butter?” the answer is, essentially, yes. Ghee is a form of clarified butter and its flavor reflects that. In fact, it is often described as an even butterier butter. Do note, however, that it may have a slightly nuttier taste than other clarified butter due to the caramelization process. 

Does ghee go bad?

Ghee is shelf stable for a surprisingly long time—a year at least, and maybe even more. However, it will eventually become rancid, so be sure to check for any change in smell and appearance before using old ghee. 

What is ghee used for?

There are many answers to the question of how to use ghee. From a culinary standpoint, it’s used in a tremendous number of dishes. It can take the place of butter or oil in most recipes. The Wicked Noodle has a list of a bunch of recipes that utilize ghee, and they include everything from poached lobster to zucchini fritters to chocolate chip cookies. It is, of course, also used in a tremendous number of traditional Indian foods. From a non-culinary standpoint, it is used in religious ceremonies, massage, and as a traditional medicine. 

About the Author

Matt Crowley

Matt Crowley is a comedy writer living in Los Angeles. He likes maple-flavored snacks, loves every kind of cheese, and is slowly learning to accept mushrooms.

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