Valley Bounty: Ghee
Ghee is a variety of clarified butter with a long history in the cuisines of South Asian and Arab cultures. Butter is “clarified” when it is heated so that its components separate — the water evaporates and the milk solids can be filtered out, leaving behind only “clarified” butterfat. The removal of the milk solids means that clarified butter has a higher smoke point (roughly 485°F) than standard butter (usually around 350°F), making it a better choice for high-heat cooking techniques like frying and sautéing.
Ghee is a bit different than other clarified butters; some extra cooking time caramelizes the sugars in the milk solids, which impart the finished ghee with a mild sweetness and nuttiness. Making ghee is as simple as simmering unsalted butter until the water has evaporated and the milk solids at the bottom have begun to brown — strain the liquid butterfat through a cheesecloth and store in the fridge for up to a year.
Ghee has a long and fascinating history in religious practices and traditional medicines, which I’m woefully unqualified to attempt to explain. What I can vouch for is its utility as a cooking oil and spread, as it brings a richer and more complex flavor to any dish you use it in.
Valley Bounty is written by Brian Snell of CISA (Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture)