So lately I’ve been on a quest to eliminate processed oils. I know I have to take what I read on the internet with a grain of salt…but if HALF of what I read about things like canola oil are true, I’m eating oil that is already half rancid by the time that I buy it (not to mention filled with all sorts of scary preservatives to keep me from realizing it). The “real food” way seems to be butter, lard (I KNEW Good’s potato chips were the way to go lol), coconut oil, and olive oil (at least these are the things you can get easily in the US). Unfortunately, butter and olive oil aren’t great for frying, and coconut oil isn’t cheap. That left me with lard, or one other alternative….ghee. Ghee is a type of clarified butter which eliminates milk solids. Since milk solids are what cause butter to burn if you cook it at too high a temperature (which can be a delight when you’re making brown butter to drizzle over potatoes, veggies, etc. but not so great when you’re trying to fry!), ghee is a good alternative for frying.
Ok, I’m off my soapbox! Having said all that….it’s also expensive as well as hard to find in Berks County. A friend recommended a site with a recipe to make your own, and I gave it a try this weekend. It really isn’t that difficult, although I think it requires patience. I made the mistake of overloading my kitchen schedule this weekend, so by the time this was done and I had to mess with straining it, I was pretty much through with experiments for the day. I think I will do better next time.
The basic idea – you heat the butter on low/medium heat until the milk solids separate from the butter, and then strain them out (leaving pure ghee behind).
The recipe I chose had you heat the butter over several hours in a crockpot with the lid off. Maybe my crockpot isn’t high-powered, but well after the recommended timeframe my melted butter was still just sitting there looking at me. I had to crank it up to high to get anything to start separating. I think I could have left it go longer, but as I said above…tired of the kitchen by that point! I did some more reading and I may try it on the stove next time, it seems like it goes much faster and isn’t really any harder.
I also struggled with the straining at the end. There seems to be a lot of variety on how many layers of cheesecloth you should use to strain the butter. I went with four and found that after a while you couldn’t even get any more butter through it. This leaves you with a greasy mess. I think next time I might try straining through a fine sieve and then through less layers of cheesecloth.
But at the end…..I ended up with a nice mason jarful of ghee for less than $5 (thanks to Aldi and their dirt-cheap butter!). Now I can’t wait to fry something!