Straight Talk About Food: When Butter Becomes Ghee


This morning, as I was up to my elbows in potato yeast dough, a voice calling my name came through my open screen door. It was my neighbor Heather Boynton. We have this understanding, Heather and I, that “mi casa es su casa”, or, in English: my house is your house. If you need an egg or a little milk, or a stalk of celery or two, well, here it is with no refund expected.

I have often been told that I was lucky to have a neighbor like that. Indeed, I am, but I’m sure this friendship was quick and steady thanks to one word: ignore. We ignore the little things that might bother us and focus on the good.

Instructions for making ghee from butter were the reason for Heather’s visit. She was making fried potatoes and onions for dinner that night and needed some directions on how to make ghee as she and Mike loved the fried potatoes which I had sent over one evening which had been fried in my homemade ghee.

Originating in India, ghee has been an Indian staple for a thousand years and now the rest of the world is catching up, especially those on the Keto diet. Unable to store butter for long periods of time due to its high temperatures, India resorted to butter clarification (heated until the water evaporated and the milk solids separated). The product has a long shelf life.

Milk solids are the parts of milk that remain after the water has been removed. If your label on a box or box is listed as containing milk solids, that powdery substance has been added to the product.

Today, ghee is widely available, both online and in stores, although quite expensive. In stores and online, prices range from $1.12 an ounce. at $3 an ounce. and more.

I use ghee to replace butter whenever I want a browned buttery, nutty flavor, i.e. in vegetables, scrambled eggs, mashed potatoes, waffles/pancakes and even the popcorn. Believe me, you will be happy to have ghee in your pantry.

I’m sending some of those yeast potato buns I was making for Heather’s dinner tonight, buns that are just delicious covered in my homemade ghee.

To make yours the same way I do at home, here’s how to get pure, golden ghee from butter.

butter ghee

  1. Heat a pound of butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat without stirring. Be patient. Soon the butter will begin to simmer and make crackling noises.
  2. After 20 minutes the crackling will stop and there will be a thin layer of fat on top with a heavier layer of solids on the bottom of the pan. Make sure it doesn’t burn.
  3. The butter should be a light golden color on top with very few air bubbles on the surface. At this point the ghee is ready.
  4. Turn off the heat and let sit for an hour. If you want very clear ghee for baking cakes, strain it into a clean, dry, airtight container.
  5. Store away from light for up to three months or in the refrigerator for one year.

I make a batch of ghee for baking cakes and a batch, unstrained, as I like the brown bits of sediment at the bottom for frying purposes.

Point: I usually pour a batch of ghee into plastic ice cube trays. Once hardened, I place them in a Ziplock bag for easy access.

Potato yeast rolls

Read the recipe before you start.

1 ¼ cup hot water

¼ cup whole milk

1/3 cup of gr. sugar

¼ cup Rapid Rise yeast

In a bowl, mix the ingredients and sprinkle with yeast. Let stand 5 minutes to rise.

Add to yeast mixture:

  • ½ cup potato flakes
  • 4 ¼ cup bread flour
  • 1 ½ tsp. salt
  • 6 tbsp. very soft butter

Mix well for 5 minutes in your stand mixer with dough hook.

Cover the bowl with Saranwrap and a towel and set aside in a warm place for 90 minutes or until the dough has doubled in size.

Place the dough on a floured breadboard and roll the dough into a 12-inch roll.

Using your scraper or a floured knife, cut the dough into 15 equal pieces.

Roll ch. into a tight ball and place in a greased 9” x 12” pan.

Cover with a tea towel and let rise until just doubled. Do not over-rise the dough.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Note: If the dough is overcooked, the tops of the buns or any bread will deflate a little in the oven. Once the dough has almost doubled, test by making a slit at the top with your finger. If the dough rises quickly, give it a little more time. If the dough rises slowly and leaves a small bump, it is ready for baking, leaving room for the dough to rise in the oven.

Ben Lomond resident Colly Gruczelak loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at [email protected].


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