Have you ever heard of ghee? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.
Honestly, until recently, ghee was a faintly known ingredient to me. I knew it was used in traditional Indian dishes, but I didn’t really know what it was or how it was used. Then, I noticed Trader Joe’s starting to sell it and then I knew it was on the verge of becoming a kitchen essential.
So what is ghee?
Regular butter contains butterfat, milk solids and water. Clarified butter is butter that has been boiled to remove the water and milk solids. Ghee is a type of clarified butter that retains the milk solids (the water is still boiled off) and simmers longer with the remaining butterfat to caramelize and create a rich butterfat that is a bit nutty in flavor. Ghee is used in traditional Indian and southeast Asian cooking.1
Why should we eat ghee?
1. It’s has a long shelf-life.
Unlike butter that needs to be refrigerated, ghee can be kept on the counter without refrigeration as long as it’s in an airtight container to prevent oxidation and mold. It has a longer shelf life than butter both on the shelf (about six months) and in the refrigerator (about a year). And because it doesn’t need to be refrigerated, it’s great for use on-the-go or while traveling.
2. It’s great for those with dairy allergies.
Unlike butter, ghee is suitable for those with dairy allergies. Ghee has trace amounts of lactose and casein since the water is removed and the milk solids are boiled off, so those who are lactose intolerant usually can consume ghee without any problems.
I do recommend buying ghee from organic, pastured cows to get the highest purity ghee.
3. It can be cooked at high heat.
I love cooking with butter but when I used medium to high heat, I notice it starts to burn. That’s not the case with ghee. Since the water and milk solids are removed, ghee has a higher smoke point. You can use it for stir frying and even deep frying. And unlike polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) like vegetable oils that release free radicals at high heat, ghee is made up of saturated fat so it can be cooked at high heat and it will remain stable.2
I just made this yummy Gluten-Free Garlic Lemon Shrimp with ghee and it was simply DELICIOUS! I’ve heard it makes amazing stove-top popcorn too.
4. It’s high in fat-soluble vitamins and other antioxidants.
Not only is ghee high in fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K (which are needed for brain, heart and immune system health), it’s also rich in butyric acid (a short-chain fatty acid that aids in healthy metabolism, gut health and cholesterol levels, as well as reduces inflammation). Butyric acids contains anti-viral properties, which is believed to inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors.2
5. It aids in maintaining a healthy weight.
Though ghee is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, it’s also rich in conjugated linolenic acid (which aids in weight loss).3
I know, it’s mind-boggling – something that’s high in fat can actually aid in weight loss? Similar to , ghee is made up of a short chain of fatty acids that are metabolized easily and readily into the body. That’s not the case with PUFAs. Plus, ghee contains no artificial ingredients or trans fats.
6. It’s been used for centuries.
Unlike PUFAs that have been around in modern times as a cheap commodity by-product (read more about PUFAs from Butter Believer), ghee has been used for centuries (some Indian pottery artifacts even indicate as long as a millennia or two ago) in Ayurvedic medicine for treating everything from skin health to arthritis to ulcers and digestive issues.3
Have you ever used ghee?
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