Homemade ghee (clarified butter)
Life has come a full circle for me… last year around same time I left my full time job for various reasons. Tomorrow, I start with another inning of my professional life – with the same employer! With that, today being the (kinda) last day of being myself, I set to spend time doing what I truly like – 1. I watered our newly setting-up garden… taking in all the beauty and scents, clicking the pictures of first batch of flowers. 2. I set up on a mission to click pictures of liquid pouring shots – and my subject was ‘ghee’ that I had made yesterday. 3. Writing a blog post about ghee!
Homemade ghee or clarified butter is a thing of childhood memories and the house that smells like heaven when the ghee is being made. My mother always made batches after batches of ghee…it was a ritual of every week. Back in the days, when refrigerator was a thing of fancy duration between two batches will depend on whether the curds are getting sour. Now, its a matter of week’s time at the most. Making ghee at home is a task of patience… when I was a kid I used to wait for the day when Aai (that’s what we call mother in Marathi) would start with churning the curds into butter and then ghee.
We used to get to lick clean the utensils and a wooden hand-whisk (called ‘ravee’ in Marathi) with the leftover butter once she has removed all but some. Things haven’t changed much here… I separate butter and buttermilk with either food processor or hand mixer and my reward is whatever small amount of butter that is stuck to the pots and blades. 🙂
But first things first, to make homemade butter/ghee, you will need to skim/collect the cream from the milk after boiling and cooling milk. Collect it in a steel pot and keep it refrigerated. Keep on adding the cream for almost a week. Make sure that the cream does not sit out of the refrigerator for too long or else it will either get spoiled or will start tasting bitter. I will strongly suggest to refrigerate the milk once it gets to room temperature, and remove the cream only after at least 6 hours of refrigeration. This ensures that the almost all the cream has gathered on top and you are making the most of the cream content in the milk. Now, you have to add starter to this cream to make the curds.
Alternatively, on the very first day itself you can add starter to the cream and let it curdle. Then when you add the cream on other days, keep the mixture out on your kitchen counter for a couple of hours so the newly added cream also curdles. Remember, in summers curdling will be quick and so, do not keep the mixture out for a long time. Check occasionally and put it in the refrigerator as soon as the mixture is curdled. This is to avoid curd to become too sour.
Once you have enough cream, separate the butter and buttermilk using food processor or hand mixer or traditional wooden whisk. With food processor and hand mixer, its a matter of 1 or 2 minutes that you get the butter. With wooden whisk, it will take 10-20 minutes depending on the fat content and temperature of the curds. Its no rocket science to understand that the butter is separated. You will clearly see small particles of butter gathering leaving the liquid part aside. The liquid part is buttermilk for you…in India, even buttermilk is consumed in various ways – do not throw this out.
Now, how to make ghee?
In a deep steel or non-stick pot put the butter. Put this pot on the stove stop on medium to low heat. Once the butter starts melting put a wooden ladle in the pot. This is to ensure that the melted butter does not overflow. Also, turn the heat to the lowest setting. If the butter comes upto the rim of the pot switch of the flame and let the liquid settle down a bit. Start again!
After about 5 minutes or so, you will see some foam rising on the top. Keep cooking on the low flame till the foam starts disappearing. The ghee is ready when either 1. the liquid becomes transparent and you can see bottom of the pot except for some residue milk fats settling at the bottom, 2. the splattering sound stops completely, 3. the liquid looks golden yellow, or 4. if you sprinkle a few drops of water, it splatters and makes sound, or 5. the fat gathered on the sides of the pot sticks to the pot and starts browning. Residue milk fats can be consumed by adding some sugar – you can make bars/balls or just eat with a spoon!
Switch of the flame. After 5 minutes or so, cover the pot with lid keeping some space to let out the remaining steam. This ensures a nice grainy texture of the ghee once it cools down and solidifies.
Do now overcook the butter or the ghee will have a burnt taste and not so nice brownish colour.
Let the ghee come to room temperature. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and store in cleaned glass or steel containers.
*Ghee is such comfort food and its part of almost every meal at my house. Making it at home is way too economical and anything homemade is always healthy and free of preservatives. I get around 10-12 gms of cream everyday. With about a week’s supply I get around 120 mls of ghee.
I am so thrilled with the results of my first ever “shooting the pouring liquid experiment” that my joy has no bounds…I am smiling ear to ear looking at those pictures. I must thank Lindsay of Pinch of Yum… she has such a detailed post about photographing liquid pouring shots… in fact she has everything amazing on her blog.
On another note, I have promised myself not to get engulfed by my job and not ignore the blog! And I promise you, you will get to read something here every now and then. 🙂 Keep coming to my little space.