What Is Ghee, Clarified Butter, & Butter Oil?
Chances are you have seen or heard the terms ghee, clarified butter, or butter oil being used lately. Although the terms are used interchangeably at times, there is somewhat of a difference between them. Particularly between ghee/clarified butter and butter oil. Ghee and clarified butter are basically the same thing and are just different ways to denote a very similar result.
Ghee is the term used for clarified butter in Southeast Asia. The origin of the word is from Sanskrit. Ghee has been around in some form or another for a very long time and has a long history of use in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal. Southeast Asian cultures have been making clarified butter more than other cultures, and for so long, it has come to commonly be known as ghee.
Ghee can be different from just plain clarified butter in its traditional methods of preparation and also because of herbs or spices being added at times.
How Is Ghee/Butter Oil Made?
Ghee/clarified butter is made by boiling or heating butter and then removing the remaining residue or milk solids. The process can be replicated quite a few times to achieve the desired purity level of the ghee.
The object is to reduce the butter to nearly nothing but the fat or "oil" of the butter. The result is a harder, more waxy like substance that can then be used for cooking and/or eating.
You can see from the pictures above what ghee looks like in liquid and solid form.
Butter oil, on the other hand, is a bit different than ghee. Typically, and depending on the brand, (NutraPro is probably the best and most reliable) butter oil is made at much lower heat to help preserve the delicate vitamins, minerals, and fats. Instead of turning solid like ghee, it can sit at room temperature and remain a liquid.
Why Use Ghee/Clarified Butter? What Are The Benefits?
For one thing, clarified butter is much more stable for cooking with than butter. Since all the water and milk solids have been removed it can be used to cook at much higher temperatures without burning.
Depending on the product it will still impart a slight butter like flavor but it won't be quite as strong as butter would be.
Another great thing about clarified butter is that it is extremely shelf stable and can last well up to a year or more in a refrigerator, or 6 months or more at room temperature.
Doesn't This Just Look Right?
Why Butter/Ghee From Grass-Fed Cows?
What's so important about using products from grass-fed cows? Well, in the same way that what we eat affects us, so too does what a cow eats affect it. It also affects its level of overall health and resulting meat and milk products. Cows are designed by nature to feed almost exclusively on grass and nothing else.
Feeding a cow corn, for example, will obviously not result in the cow not being able to live, but it will make it less than ideal. Cows are ruminants and were meant and designed to roam through pasture for almost their entire lives.
A cow that feeds purely on pasture (grass) will have a completely different make-up and fat profile than a cow that is fed on grains. Cows that eat fresh, fast growing green grass that is loaded with chlorophyll will transfer all the benefits of that grass into their milk and body. Makes perfect sense right?
Joel Salatin Discusses Grass-Fed Cows & The Benefits Of Pasture Farming
- The Weston A. Price Foundation - Weston A Price Foundation
Check out the Weston A. Price Foundation for great information on traditional foods and the benefits of grass-fed butter/butter oil.
The resulting milk and milk based products, such as ghee and butter oil, will be much higher in vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. Specifically:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- CLA (conjugated linoleic acid)
- Vitamin K2
The vitamins and fats that are found in this amazing food are known to help keep skin, hair, nails, and teeth very strong and healthy. Plus numerous other benefits, I highly suggest looking further into how important the nutrients in grass-fed animal products are. Vitamins A, D, & K2 in particular have been found to be essential for optimum human health and for keeping a host of illnesses at bay.
CLA as well has been found to be extremely important for human health, and grass-fed butter has a lot. Check out the graph below to see how big of a difference grass versus grain can be for levels of CLA.
Graph of CLA Pasture vs. Grains
Are Certain Ghee/Butter Oil Products Better Than Others?
It depends really on what you want out of the product and what your budget is. Ghee is great for cooking and will give a nice flavor to many foods.
There is a bit of controversy about what happens when you heat butter at certain temperatures. Some people and studies have shown/argued that you can end up destroying some of the benefits by applying too much or too high of heat to the product. Specifically the special fats and vitamins (see Activator X (K2) and the Wulzen factor) that are present in raw cream and butter from grass-fed cows.
That's why some people feel that butter oil is superior to ghee as far as its nutritional content is concerned. But in a way it's comparing apples to oranges. Ghee is meant for eating and cooking, not necessarily as a nutritional supplement, though it ends up accomplishing that as well.
Butter Oil is better as a supplement to your diet. You wouldn't cook with it because that would defeat the purpose. The important fact about butter oil is that it is essentially still raw and is more likely to contain higher amounts of those extra special compounds (K2 and Wulzen factor).
NutraPro is one of the few companies that makes butter oil. They don't mess around and this is probably the very best true butter oil you can even find, or is even available for purchase. It is, however, designed to be more of a nutritional supplement than a fat that you would use for cooking.
They state that they use very low heat to extract the protein and water from the butter to keep all the delicate vitamins and antioxidants in tact (specifically the all important Vitamin K and Activator X!). It's the best of the best if you are looking for the ultimate health supplement and don't mind the price. It will, however, last quite a while as a little goes a long way.
Pure Indian Foods makes probably the most popular and highest rated ghee on the market. While not quite as strict as the butter oil from NutraPro, it is extremely healthy and the price is quite a bit lighter.
There are still a ton of benefits from ghee and their product is one of the best. It is of course 100% grass-fed and organic, which is most important.
It will come as a solid instead of a liquid and is great for cooking, as it has a smoke point of 485 degrees.
If you want some of the benefits of ghee but don't want to spend too much, then Purity Farms Organic Ghee might be right for you.
Although the price is lower it is still a great product that will confer a lot of benefits. They state that their product is made from organic butter and from small organic farms that only pasture(grass-fed) their cows.
Make Your Own
If you don't want to spend extra money buying store bought ghee or butter oil then of course you could always make your own! Below is a video showing you how to do it yourself.
Make Your Own Ghee, Butter Oil
Have You Tried Ghee/Butter Oil? What Do You Think?
Halemane Muralikrishna from South India on November 16, 2019:
Hi, Mr Matthew Sands, Hope you would like to read my article on how to make homemade http://ghee hub.me/an7Ka
Cynthia Zirkwitz from Vancouver Island, Canada on November 02, 2014:
Excellent review of ghee and butter oil-- both of which my husband and I are interested in using more in our lives at this point in time. I also enjoyed the video by Titli Nahaan that you included on how to make the ghee-- I remember that back in the 70s one of my good friends (Anglo-Indian) made her own ghee-- I also recall that her food was so delicious. But I was too young at the time to bother with the idea of using it myself. I am so happy that I have her on my Facebook after all these years! Voted up++, shared, pinned. Lovely!