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Top Pick Of The Week

July 14, 2009

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Ghee

What is ghee, and why should you be interested? If you like to sauté in butter, it’s the better—healthier, tastier, and easier-to-cook-with—way to go. Photo by Corey Lugg | THE NIBBLE.

WHAT IT IS: Ghee, a type of clarified butter.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: It’s made from 100% organic Straus Creamery butter, by an American Ayurvedic physician.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Great taste, better for you (no lactose), easier to cook with, long shelf life with no refrigeration (you never run out of butter).
WHERE TO BUY IT: AncientOrganics.com and specialty, natural and health food stores nationwide.
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Giddy For Ghee: Ancient Organics Ghee

CAPSULE REPORT: For centuries, ghee has been a cornerstone of Ayurvedic medicine, the ancient Hindu art of healing and of prolonging life. Now, it’s poised to become an important ingredient to people who will never cook Indian food.

What’s ghee? It’s similar to clarified butter, but the processes and end products differ somewhat. Clarified butter (or drawn butter) is familiar to anyone who has ordered lobster at a restaurant. The clear melted butter has been rendered (melted by simmering) to separate the milk solids from the butterfat and evaporate the water. It’s a more elegant way to serve melted butter, which otherwise looks sudsy. Chefs also use clarified butter to sauté, because with the milk solids gone, ghee has  an extremely high smoke point, 485°F (252°C, higher than canola oil—only rice bran oil, safflower oil and avocado oil are higher).

Ghee requires a longer simmering process, which removes all of the water and milk solids. There’s no lactose left in ghee; the lactose intolerant can slather it over everything and enjoy all the buttery goodness they want. (Well, check with your cardiologist on that latter point.)

Ancient Organics, a company dedicated to the principles of Ayurvedic medicine, makes its ghee from one of the best-known butters in America: the organic-certified butter of the acclaimed Straus Family Creamery. Across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin County, California, on the shores of beautiful Tomales Bay, happy Straus cows graze on green grass under blue skies. Their milk is churned in small batches in an old-fashioned 1950s-era butter churn. The result is rich, sweet and creamy butter with an 85% butterfat content (the USDA minimum requirement is 80%).

Ancient Organics takes this precious butter and separates it into the golden butterfat known as ghee. Whether or not you want to learn more about the medicinal benefits of ghee (according to Ayurveda), if you sauté, fry or stir-fry, you should get to know ghee. Read the full review below.

     
THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

 

Bountiful Butter

Goat Butter Butter Stick Flavored Butter
The History Of Butter. Recorded use of butter dates to 2,000 years before Christ. Bou-tyron, the basis for our word, means “cow cheese” in Greek. Read the History Of Butter. Butter Glossary. How many types of butter are there? Frankly, you won’t believe the number! Find out in our Butter Glossary, and perhaps use a new type of butter tonight. Compound Butter Recipes. Flavored butters perk up almost anything: citrus, herbed, nutty, spiced or sweetened. See our Compound Butter Recipes.

Giddy For Ghee: Ancient Organics Ghee

INDEX OF REVIEW

This is Page 1 of a three-page article. Click on the black links to visit other pages.

MORE TO DISCOVER

Introduction To Ghee

Ghee (pronounced with a hard “g” and a silent “h”) has been used in Indian cooking for thousands of years, as Westerners use butter. Many people think of ghee as clarified butter; it’s similar, but not identical, as you’ll see on Page 3. Ghee is used in Ayurvedic medicine, as well as to light lamps and as offerings in Hindu religious ceremonies. Its nutritional properties, superior to butter, make it a better fat.

Grass-fed butter—particularly clarified butter—is a healthier butter.

  • It’s a rich source of vitamins, particularly K2, a powerful antioxidant that has been clinically proven to provide extraordinary benefits for bone and cardiovascular health (it literally cleans calcium deposits from the arteries and deposits them in the bones; early tests indicate it may also help joints and intestinal health).
  • It has conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a beneficial fatty acid that has been shown in studies to hinder the growth of tumors.
 

Ghee
The proof is in the melting. At top, melted butter, with theprotein solids floating on top (and settled on the bottom). At bottom, clear golden ghee. Photo by Emily Chang | THE NIBBLE.

  • With the lactose removed, ghee is a more purer and healthier fat than butter. As mentioned above, it can be enjoyed by people who are lactose intolerant.

Clarified butter is still cholesterol-containing saturated fat. It contains approximately 14 grams of fat per tablespoon, but because of the rich flavor of ghee, it can be used more sparingly than butter: one tablespoon of ghee instead of four tablespoons of butter or oil.

But people who enjoy cooking with ghee love that it can be used more sparingly, to get the benefits of butter with 1/4 the amount (good for people on low-fat and reduced-calorie diets). For people who like to sauté with butter, the removal of lactose also means no protein solids to burn when sautéing.

Ghee also has a longer shelf life than butter—at least six months and up to a year. Ghee was developed  to keep butter from spoiling in the tropical climates of India, millennia before refrigeration. The removal of the proteins means that ghee (and other thoroughly clarified butter) just needs to be kept in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid—as with butter, ghee is highly susceptible to picking up odors and flavors from other foods. Of course, as with butter you can refrigerate and freeze ghee.

Let’s take a look at cooking with ghee, on the next page.

—Karen Hochman

Continue To Page 2: Cooking With Ghee

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