Ghee: An Ayurvedic Elixir

gheemainI’ve just returned from part three of my Ayurveda Yoga Specialist training at the Himalayan Institute. This weekend’s focused on the six tastes, the different forms of agni (digestive fire), and how to make ghee, kitchari and medicinal teas to help balance different issues. Coming home I felt ready to putting our knowledge in to action and in particular, make my own batch of ghee.

Ghee, also known as clarified butter, has many benefits including a high smoke point, so it can be used as an oil when cooking; it is rich in vitamins like A, D, and E and also butyrate, which is a short-chain fatty acid known to be beneficial to colon health because of its anti-inflammatory qualities; and it’s also known to be good for casein and lactose intolerance because the skimming and straining process removes those elements making it easier to digest.

In Ayurveda ghee is said to balance the doshas and help support or build ojas, a vital essence of the body and mind. Ayurvedists use ghee to deliver herbs and other medicines to the body deep in to the tissues.  Because of it’s known digestive and health benefits, I was eager to give ghee a try. I started using it in my cooking a few months ago and have felt a big change for the better in my UC and digestive symptoms and overall health.

Ghee is relatively easy to make and can be stored at room temperature. I have ours out on the counter ready to use. It also ages well, like wine. It is said that the older the ghee, the more healing properties it contains. It is recommended to take no more than three teaspoons of ghee per day and it should never be taken in equal parts with honey. 

I’m happy to say my first experience making ghee turned out amazing. Here are the simple steps I followed.

Ingredients &  Tools
  • 1 lb (4 sticks) of organic, happy cow butter
  • 1 heavy bottomed sauce pan
  • 1 mason jar
  • cheesecloth
Directions

Cut the butter and melt in the pan on a low-medium heat. You’ll want to watch that the flame doesn’t get too hot or else the ghee will burn. Low and slow worked best for me!

As the butter melts, it will slowly bubble or “talk to you.” This is water leaving the butter. You’ll also notice a white foam collecting on the top of the ghee. Carefully skim this away as you go. It will help to save on the excess at the end. Stir from time to time.

gheecollage

As it cooks, the ghee will become more and more clear. You may notice there is less foam to remove. You may also notice that the “talking” of the ghee changes. This is a sign that the ghee is almost done. Tip: place a glass lid over the pot and notice how much steam collects. The less steam, the closer you are to being done. This is because of the water being released in the cooking process. 

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After filtering through cheesecloth

When the ghee is clear, golden in color and there is little steam, remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes. When ready, transfer the ghee to a mason jar. Place the cheesecloth over the container in order to catch any remaining foam. Let cool.

Final product (before cooled)

Final product (before cooled)

I chanted the Mahamrityunjaya Mantra during the cooking process. This mantra is commonly used in Ayurveda to awaken the dormant healing power within. Infused with love and healing, I will use this ghee to cook for my family and friends. What could be better?

Do you already use ghee? How has adding it to your daily routine helped you? Do you have a favorite recipe to use it with? Share you thoughts in the comments below and let’s learn from one another! 

 


Resources

Textbook of Ayurveda, Vol. 1: Fundamental Principles of Ayurveda by Dr. Vasant Lad

Eat-Taste-Heal: An Ayurvedic Cookbook for Modern Living By Thomas Yarema, Daniel Rhoda, Johnny Brannigan

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