Thursday, May 31, 2012

Making Clarified Butter -- Ghee

In our home, we try our best to make our own stuff. It can be a wonderful feeling not having to run to the shop or the market all the time. Among the stuff we make at home is clarified butter or ghee.

There was a time when we had a cow (named Cow -- I know, boring. But my parents never named her and we all decided to call her Cow). Cow was a Jersey cow so she has a lot of milk. We would get about 20 to 25 liters of milk every single day. That meant we had a tough time making sure all that milk was used. We made paneer (cottage cheese), makhan (butter), lassi (yoghurt based drink that is made from the liquid left over after churning butter), and curd. Cow, unfortunately died after getting really sick (the vets we called in could not save her though they valiantly tried). She left us Bronty, her daughter, (short for brontosaurus as she is massive).

However, when my step-mom got very sick in 2006, we had a real tough time taking care of our beloved Bronty. We had little choice but to sell her as she was not getting the care she deserved. (We were too bogged down with running around from home to hospital for over a month). We were left without a cow and we had to, rather sadly, buy milk.

Today, we buy milk from a close relative who has a few buffaloes. We buy a liter and a half of milk a day. After we get the milk (it is delivered to our home as fresh milk -- as in "freshly squeezed"), we have to boil it. After it cools, it is refrigerated. The following day, we skim off the cream that gets built-up on top. 

cream accumulates on top of cold milk

cream being skimmed off cold milk
cream skimmed off cold milk

skimmed milk
We collect the cream in a steel pot that we keep in the freezer.

Cream (Frozen)

To make clarified butter, the cream (which is quite frozen in our case) is heated over a very low flame. 

melted cream

Once it is somewhat melted and warmed (not hot), the stove is turned off and a small amount of curd (yoghurt) is added into it. It is then left overnight to ferment.

Dahi or Yoghurt (used to help the cream ferment)

cream left to ferment overnight
fermented cream

The fermented cream is then put in a blender or mixer and it is blended until the top becomes shiny and buttery in texture. There are times when adding an ice cube or two can hasten this process. After a few minutes of blending, butter will begin to separate and collect together. Once the butter is shiny and somewhat smooth in texture, it can be scooped out.

fermented cream in blender

a few ice cubes can hasten the churning process
fermented cream after blending

fermented cream after a few seconds of blending
butter starting to separate after a few minutes of churning in blender
butter now collecting
butter now ready to be scooped out

butter collected
The butter that has been collected can be used as table butter though it is unsalted. It may also be used in cooking, if desired.  However, to make ghee, the butter is then put into a pot and put on very low heat to melt it.

butter put on very, very low heat (lowest setting)

butter being melted
But, it is important to allow it only to melt until it is very soft -- no more than that. After it has melted, it is cooled and left in the freezer overnight. This is to make the fat to separate from any water.

frozen butter

The next day, a knife is driven into the solidified butter in two or three places so that the liquid can be drained easily. 

two holes are made into the frozen butter

excess liquid being drained

 After as much of the liquid has been drained, the pot of  frozen butter is then put onto the stove with flame set to the lowest setting.

frozen butter on low heat

It is allowed to warm slowly until it all melts.

Frozen butter slowly being heated

butter slowly melting

butter almost all melted

butter ready to come to a boil
It is necessary to watch the process as the fat will tend to bubble and froth and it can overflow. It must be stirred occasionally as solids will sink to the bottom of the pot and can burn easily. 

After some minutes, the froth becomes whitish scum. It is important not to remove it. Keep on stirring every few minutes. 

solids forming at the bottom of the pot

solids at the bottom of the pot
After a few minutes, the melted butter starts to froth. There is a danger of the froth overflowing and it is important to stir rather frequently to prevent that from happening.

butter now frothing

You will begin to notice that the solids forming at the bottom of the pot are becoming better formed. Once the solids have changed color from white to slightly brown, you have the choice of removing it (strain it and use it in your cooking -- I use it like paneer or cottage cheese), or leaving it alone at the bottom of the pot.

solids forming

when solids appear slightly browned, it can be removed

solids removed and drained

 After more minutes, the whitish solids that remain at the bottom of the pot (it is impossible to get all of them out) will turn golden brown and the butter that you are heating starts to clear. 

scum or froth starts to slowly clear away

This is the time where you need to be careful. Leave it too long and it will burn and remove it too early from the flame and your ghee will not be of good quality (will smell burned too). 

scum or froth almost gone

The rule is, once the solids at the bottom of the pot starts to turn dark brown and the top of the butter is now clear and there are no translucent rings floating on the surface, it is time to turn the heat off. The clarified butter is now done.

no more froth or scum butter almost clarified

clarified butter is now ready
Let the clarified butter cool enough that you can safely pour it onto a container without mishap. Using a strainer (to catch all the solids) pour the clarified butter into your container of choice. 

clarified butter left to cool
 Let it cool further before closing the lid or capping the container. You will notice the clarified butter which is normally clear and liquid for as long as it is warm, will start solidifying like wax. The clarified butter can now be safely stored and used.

strain the clarified butter or ghee while pouring into container

clarified butter or ghee in bottle before it completely cools

clarified butter or ghee solidified

Posted by: Bames Pabla
Bames Live, Updated at: 3:40 PM