Butter is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? It doesn’t make you fat, you can eat as much of it as you want and be healthier for it, and you can use it in so many ways. You can bake with it, cook with it, flavor it, melt it, or eat it raw.
In India, it’s traditional to slowly cook butter down and render it into a clarified fat, separate from the milk solids — this is called ghee, and it’s even better for using in sautés and higher-heat cooking than butter because it doesn’t have the parts that burn in a hot pan. On the GAPS diet, ghee is the first dairy food you should introduce because it doesn’t have any of the potential irritants that can upset your gut, such as lactose or casein. It’s pure, heavenly, butterfat. You can buy it in stores or online, but I wanted to make some myself!
I had heard that there’s a number of ways you can make your own ghee at home — on the stovetop, in the oven, or in a crock pot. But it takes a while, and I didn’t want to babysit my butter cooking all day long, so I thought my crock pot would be my best bet.
But when I tried looking up how to make homemade ghee in a slow cooker, I found a lot of confusing and contradicting tutorials. Some said it took only 4 hours, some said it took 12, some said to leave it uncovered, some didn’t, some said it would need to be stirred, some said leave it alone.
Well, I just decided I was gonna go for it, and figure it out myself. The method I tried worked fine, and I’ve done it a couple times now. It’s easy!
Making Ghee in a Slow Cooker
Step one: Put butter in the pot. Put a lot. You’re gonna love this stuff.
Step two: Turn it on “low,” and leave the cover off.
Step three: Walk away for about eight hours. (If you’re around and want a lighter-flavored, less amber-colored ghee, check it at around six.)
There’s not much more to it!
You’ll see this foamy white stuff on top as it’s cooking, but you’re supposed to let it go until that turns brown and crispy, and either floats on top or sinks to the bottom.
In this batch, I overcooked it a little cause I was waiting for it to sink down to the bottom like one of the tutorials said it should. It won’t always all sink. If it’s separated into crispy, brown bits, and a clear liquid, that’s all you really need to wait for. Go by the smell, too — it’ll start to smell like browned butter, but this batch went a little beyond that. I kind of like the richer, darker, slightly-overcooked taste, but if you don’t, make sure you stop heating it before this point. You don’t really want it burnt.
Just so you can see the difference, this is a comparison of a less-cooked batch versus a much darker, kinda overcooked one:
The last thing you have to do to finish making your ghee is strain out the solid crunchies from the clarified liquid. Ladle it over a fine sieve — I like to use a nice reusable coffee filter, which is also great for getting nice, clear bone broth out of. (By the way, if you want to get this, I’d pick it up from Amazon ASAP before the price goes up again — it was nine bucks when I bought it and now it’s only $3.95! Ugh.)
Another way to do this is take a nut milk bag (this one is awesome and really durable), and set it in your jar to strain the solids. That’s what I did the first time before I got the coffee filter. Both work well.
Then you can just lift it up and take them out. Skim the remaining foam in the jar after.
You’ll be left with those crunchy milk solids, much in the same way that you get cracklings from rendering lard or tallow.
If you’re on GAPS, you won’t be able to eat the milk solids until you’re ready for the rest of the GAPS-legal dairy, but if butter is okay for you, you can save the solids and eat them. There’s a few traditional Indian recipes for using the solids that I’d like to try once I can have them. A simple one is just mixing with garlic and sauteeing until the garlic is fragrant, then using as a spread on toast.
Put the ghee in the fridge to solidify, and then you can leave it in there, or take it out. A great thing about ghee is that it keeps unrefrigerated, much longer than regular butter. It can stay out on the counter or in the cupboard for about a month, and lasts about three months in the fridge.
Here’s what it looks like after solidifying in the fridge. This is actually the brown batch! It gets a lot lighter when it’s solid.
What do you think?
Have you ever made ghee? What’s your favorite way to use it? If you haven’t already, do you think you’ll give ghee making a try?
Oh, and if this sounds a little too intimidating to you, and you’re worried about ruining or burning your good grass-fed butter, you can find amazing grass-fed ghee already made from a great company here.