Localicious: For the Love of Ghee

© Hannah Kraemer and Lisa Shara. Published at North State Parent.

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What’s better than butter? Butter made from organic, pasture-raised cows already has a dense profile of health-giving nutrients, and it’s hard to deny the love for a food that leaves a warm and satisfying taste. Perhaps the question is: how can we make butter better?

The answer is ghee. Take butter, melt and simmer it to naturally purify it, and ghee is what you get!

Originating in India, ghee is a type of clarified butter that has been around for centuries. Although the production may vary from place to place, ghee is valued as a necessary staple in the typical Indian diet. In India and Tibet, ghee has been long revered for its healing properties.

art-115-ghee3Indya Gage is owner of Mama Sattva Ghee in Chico. After sharing her ghee with family and friends and receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, she went on to launch her business in 2012.  Her passion for ghee is inspiring!

In a nutshell, Indya explains that “ghee is most known as a pure, stable cooking oil, but can also be used as a spread.” Many people who need to avoid dairy products are able to use ghee, as the process of making ghee naturally separates out butter’s dairy components (lactose, casein and protein solids) along with its water content, leaving a pure, golden butter oil.   

Clearly, not all fats and oils are created equal, and the body processes and uses different fats in different ways. Ghee has a high content of short-chain fatty
acids; when ingested, it can quickly be used by the body for energy and does not store in fat tissue, as opposed to longer-chain fatty acids like olive and sesame oil. As a “long-burning fuel,” it helps sustain energy and aid in blood sugar regulation.

Ghee contains butyric acid that is known to help reduce inflammation in the body and directly feed nerve and brain tissue. It also has a high dose of conjugated linoleic acid, said to be a powerful antioxidant.

Falguni Khanna, co-owner and cook at Mt. Shasta’s Maruti Indian restaurant, is well acquainted with ghee. Born in India, she was raised on this nourishing butter oil. “Ghee is made from scratch in about 80% of the homes in India,” she says, adding that “ghee has a nurturing component, not just for the body, but for the mind as well.”

A former student of the California College of Ayurveda, Falguni says, “We were taught the importance of ghee and its direct effects on our bodies. Eating and drinking acidic foods like pasta, coffee and wine eventually causes issues with the digestive system. Ghee helps lubricate and repair the inner lining of the stomach, along with igniting the ‘fire within the belly,’ which helps with digestion.”

Ghee is shelf-stable and requires no refrigeration. It has an exceptionally high smoke point at 485 degrees, making it excellent for cooking, frying and baking due to its stable nature when exposed to heat. Any cooking or baking oil found in recipes can be replaced with ghee in equal proportions. Use ghee to pop and flavor popcorn, spread on toast, sauté vegetables, bake, etc. “If you are not sure how to use ghee, fry an egg in it with some quality mineral salt to get started,” suggests Indya.

To produce her Mama Sattva Ghee, Indya carefully chooses organic, pasture-raised butter from local creameries. “The big difference between Mama Sattva Ghee and some other brands is that we make ours at an extremely low temperature, ensuring that all the butyric acid and essential fatty acids remain in their original life-giving state,” she says.

You can find Mama Sattva Ghee at dozens of health-conscious stores and farmers markets in the Northern California region. For a list of locations or to order, visit www.mamasattva.com or call (530) 680-6426.

Falguni has begun incorporating ghee into her restaurant’s recipes. Maruti restaurant is located at 531 Chestnut St. in Mt. Shasta; call (530) 918-9399 or visit www.maruti-restaurant.com. 

NOTE: Generally, those with sensitivities or intolerances to dairy can eat ghee without problems. Yet while most ghee is purified to the point that lactose, casein and milk proteins are no longer present, those with sensitivities to dairy products should use caution when first experimenting with ghee.

To Make Ghee At Home: Simple Ghee Recipe

By Falguni Khanna

Place 1 or more sticks of butter in a medium saucepan. Bring butter to a boil over medium-high heat. This takes approximately 2 – 3 minutes. Once boiling (use caution when handling), reduce heat to medium. The butter will form foam, which will then disappear. Ghee is done when a second foam forms on top of the butter. Use a ladle to gently remove the foam from the top. Allow the remaining butter in the saucepan to turn golden, approximately 7- 8 minutes. Brown-colored milk solids will be in the bottom of pan. Gently pour ghee into a heatproof container through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Transfer to an airtight container (glass is best). Ghee does not need refrigeration and generally will keep up to a month (store out of direct sunlight), or refrigerated for 3 months.

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Localicious is a monthly column celebrating healthy food in the North State. If you would like to suggest a food-related idea, business or organization, email us at localicious@northstateparent.com

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