Real Ghee, Real Qualities, Real Effects

Real Ghee – “qualities and actions”

You can find in lots of grocery stores now. It is just the new (old), hot thing to hit the market along with those (outrageously over priced) goji berries, maca, spirulina, blue-green algae, chlorella, acai, cacao, sumac, noni, mangosteen, camu camu, acerola cherry, barley grass, wheatgrass and turmeric. Whew! Did i forget any?
With the new public awareness of ayurveda, ghee is getting more popular these days. Lets look at ghee and milk and how it is made to see what “real” ghee is as well as learn bigger concepts of ayurveda. You might save yourself some cash and save your health as well.In the “americanized” version of what is being called ayurveda, what they are calling ghee is only clarified butter. You take a stick of butter, throw it in a pan, cook out the water and the milk solids and wallah, you have what “they” are calling ghee. It is then found in the refrigerator in the dairy section at most Whole Foods Markets and of lately there are three or so brands of it now available. This is not ghee my friends. It is only clarified butter. It does not have the same properties of ghee (specially when you refrigerate it) and will not have the same effects on the body as it is missing essential qualities that are created in the correct process of making it.
In chapter 28 of Charaka Samhita, the foremost text of Ayurveda, explains the transformation of milk to yogurt to butter to ghee in the commentary on “ksiradadhinyay” or the “law of transformation” in its commentary on microdigestion and how it works. Yes, what you are being sold is not ghee….. being sold by “western ayurveda” and by the stores. What is more, the research being done on ghee is not being done on real ghee but just clarified butter.
“Real ghee is made with “cultured” butter, lets look at what is the difference and why.
And here is your researched proof as well….

we have scientific research showing the difference with traditionally made ghee….

Milk and qualities (gunas)
We need to start from the beginning of the process to realize the depth of why inherent properties of substances are and then why those qualities change. This is what real ayurveda is truly about.Regular butter is usually made from cow milk. Cows milk is especially sweet (earth and water elements) so it is heavy and hard to digest. After digestion it creates a little moisture in the channels (srotas), the doshas, in the formation of tissues (dhatus) and also in the waste products of excretion (malas). Its energy (virya or over all potency of hot or cold) is cold. It mitigates diseases of vata and pitta.
Cows milk is further broken down into it’s traits dependent upon other factors. The color of the cow: Black cows milk is superior in qualities and mitigates vata. Yellow cows milk is mitigates pitta and vata. White cows milk is increasing to kapha and Red and varied colors cow’s milk mitigates vata.The land a cow is raised in effects the qualities of the milk as well. A marshy land creates a cow’s milk that is harder to digest and is even more unctuous (oily and greasy). An arid and drier climate will produce a milk that is lighter and easier to digest in comparison and have less of those qualities of the marshy land raised cow’s milk.The food a cow intakes will have an effect of the milk as well, obviously. Now we are starting to see the depth of the whole picture.Other animals milk such as water buffalo, goat, deer, mare, camel, elephant and woman’s milk is all expounded upon in the ayurvedic texts, each with its own qualities then also the sub qualities like the examples used in the above paragraph and more delineation.

Other changes in qualities are the processes done to the milk ie. fresh from the utter that is warm or cold, raw milk vs cooking the milk and the varieties of cooking to the milk. Raw milk that is cold increases moisture inside the channels (srotas) and increases kapha (earth and water elements) as well as increases ama (undigested toxic morbid metabolic waste) in the system. Flash boiling the milk makes it easier to digest as well as mitigates kapha and vata whereas boiled and cooked milk mitigates pitta. When milk is over cooked or burned it is once again heavy for digestion.

Oh my, there is even more details. When the cow is milked has an effect on the milk as well. Milk drawn in the AM is heavier and harder for digestion whereas milk drawn in the PM is lighter and easier to digest.

The best milk is when it is warm straight from the utter of the cow and just incase you really wanted to know… woman’s milk is not cooked. 🙂

Yogurt and action (karma)
Real ghee is made from yogurt. Yogurt is sour and the sour taste is the earth and fire elements. The taste of sour has an oily and hot quality and has a post digestive effect on the tissues that creates more excretion and facilitates processes of the system. You can see this in the fire component of the elements and how fire is a transformative element. Sour is good for digestion, the heart, increases appetite and increases moistures in the system after digestion. As per its effects on the doshas (the humours or buffers of the system that go out of balance and create disease), it reduces vata (air and ether elements), raises pitta (fire and water elements) and raises kapha (water and earth elements). (more description of the doshas in another blog.) Yogurt itself is extremely nourishing to the body but has a thick slimy quality that can easily clog the system. Remember every thing is poison and everything is medicine dependent upon the person who is consuming the substance and their unique individual balance of their system.

Yogurt that is bought in the stores is extremely sour and old. The older the yogurt the more sour it gets. Fresh yogurt has a sweet taste to it and very unctuous in comparison and doesn’t taste anything like the store bought brands. Fresh yogurt has much different qualities and is the ideal yogurt to be using. The yogurt that sits in a refrigerator after being made becomes more sour everyday. This is the qualities changing with time.

Buttermilk and action (karma)
Here is more the bigger picture concepts. By putting action into a substance you can change the traits of that substance but it will keep its base quality. We take yogurt and churn it with water. After churning for some time, the oil becomes thicker and finally clumps together in what we know as cultured butter. By the way, what we have done by churning the yogurt in water is create what is known as buttermilk or takra. (another topic for a future blog)

The action of the churning creates more lightness and heating qualities to the yogurt and adds the quality of astringent taste to the butter as well. Astringent taste has the elements of earth and air and adds a rough and dry quality. This is why takra has a constipating quality (grahi) or how it pulls the moisture out of the fecal matter and brings it together.

Cultured butter

Cultured butter is made from yogurt and has the qualities of the fermentation (fire). This action lightens up the butter and this is the process that defi
nes what “ghee” is. The fire element creates a digestive quality to the butter. Fire is tra
nsformative and light in quality and this remains in the butter. This butter has a light taste, is more sour in taste and is so much better for digestion and easier to digest than regular butter. You can see how the qualities of the yogurt have now been introduced into the butter.
Making Ghee
Now that you have the understanding, here is the process:
Step 1: Making Yogurt from Cream:
This step is good to start the evening before you plan to make ghee. Start with fresh, organic cream.
Two or three pints of heavy whipping cream should make enough ghee for a family of three or four people for a week.
The first step is to heat the cream. Use a large pot, with high sides to prevent the cream from boiling over.
Bring the cream to 100 degrees and remove it from the heat to cool.
Add yogurt that you have bought at the store to the cream for the starter culture. I make my own yogurt so i use that as a starter. By the way, the more sour and hard yogurt is, the older it is. Fresh yogurt has the texture of an egg white, slimy like mucus.
Stir it and put it in the oven to sit overnight. You can also use a large glass or metal bowl instead of small glasses, if you prefer.
Don’t turn the oven on, but turn the light on if it is an electric oven.
Step 2: Making Cultured Butter:
When you get up in the morning, remove the cream yogurt from the oven.
Put all the jars or your large bowl of yogurt cream in the refrigerator for one and a half to two hours. The temperature of the yogurt will make a difference when you are churning the butter.
If the temperature of the cream yogurt is too warm, the butter will be very soft and it can be difficult to separate the buttermilk from the butter.
If the temperature is too cold (if you leave it in the refrigerator for many hours) the fat molecules will be very solid and won’t stick to each other very well when you churn.
When the yogurt is at the ideal temperature, the churning should be complete in 5 to 10 minutes.
First the cream will whip, as you keep whipping, it will start turning a more yellow color. This is the butter starting to emerge.
At the end, the butter will separate completely from the buttermilk and will start sloshing around in the bowl.
When the butter and the buttermilk (takra) have completely separated, stop the mixer, clean the paddle and use a heavy duty wooden or other spatula to push the butter into a large mass.

Step 3: Making Ghee:

Put the butter into a pot and heat on low heat until all the water has boiled off and the protein has fallen out of the oil to the bottom of the pan.
Slow heat is better than fast heat because the protein (or milk solids) tend to stick to the bottom of the pan and can easily burn.
The bubbling will change speed and change in the song of the bubbling. This is one indicator that it is done.
You will notice that the ghee is now clear (which is why it is called clarified butter). If you stick a spoon into the ghee, you can see the bottom of it clearly. The color should be a rich golden color.

Be careful!!!! At this stage because it is very easy to burn the ghee. Basically, all of the water has boiled off at this stage and the heat from the stove no longer is being used to evaporate the water (which takes a lot of energy) and maintains the temperature at 100° C or 212° F.

Once the water has all evaporated, the temperature begins to climb very rapidly because all of the heat from the burner goes to increase the temperature instead of evaporate the water.
Keep the stove on the lowest possible setting at this point and watch it like a hawk. Transfer the ghee to a non-toxic ceramic pot (you may need to let it cool a bit to avoid breaking the ceramic).
Use a clean cheesecloth (non-bleached, organic cotton is best) to filter the ghee from the milk solids.
Fresh ghee made with this method described here and prescribed by the shastras should be golden in color and deliciously nutty in aroma. There should not be a burned smell either. There is a variety of ghee due to how long it has been cooked. The best for consumption in general is the first stage of the cooked process where the solids have cooked out but not cooked or browned on the bottom of the pot.
Ayurveda defines three kinds of ghee. All three are made from the same cream-to-butter but are processed in different lengths of time depending on their ultimate use.
Mridhu Paka
Mridhu Paka means “soft-cooked”. This ghee still contains some water content so that it can cook longer without burning. It is well-filtered and commonly used in festivals and celebrations for frying foods in bulk quantities. It is also used in the making of ayurvedic medicated ghee. Because the water content shortens the shelf-life of “soft-cooked” ghee, it should be used within 15 days.
Madhya Paka
This ghee is intended for day-to-day cooking. It has no water content, but it should not be eaten raw.Khar Paka
This ghee is slightly toasty but not burned. It can be eaten raw by spreading on bread or adding directly to food, which makes it great for traveling. This is also used also in basti (enema).
A last note on qualities. Ghee is never refrigerated. It does not go bad unless the moisture is not completely cooked out of it. In fact, 100 year old ghee is extremely medicinal and touted in the texts for its usage. Ghee that is refrigerated takes on the qualities of the refrigerator. Cold, dry and heavy are the main qualities that are created by refrigeration. This remains in the substance refrigerated and does not cook out.
For an example,  take some ghee that you have freshly made, pour some of it into two jars. Place one in the refrigerator and the other leave at room temperature. After a day or two take the ghee out of the refrigerator and place it next to the other jar of ghee. Give it a week, then inspect them, taste them. The ghee that has been refrigerated has different qualities. It will remain more solid at the same temperatures, it will be harder for digestion and it  tastes waxy and very different. Try this for yourself. This is the best way to learn, experientially.Through this process of understanding what makes real ghee we have also seen a big part of real Ayurveda is……. qualities and actions. Ayurvedic dietetics is to be able to see what are the qualities and the actions of all substances and then the individual; who are they and what is their individual situation of health. This is why what is medicine to one is poison to another. This is also why ayurveda is much more detailed and beautiful than Vata, Pitta and Kapha diet plans.I hope you have enjoyed this journey, hope it has left you at a much deeper and higher state of confusion which only means you are learning and growing. The process of learning the details is such a beautiful journey of insight. May patients be your virtue, May your ghee be golden and your digestion be strong.References:
Bhavapraksha of Bhavamishra
Charaka Samhita
You can order some of this delicious and beautiful ghee by contacting directly at

10 thoughts on “Real Ghee, Real Qualities, Real Effects

  1. Nice article. I had a question on Step 1: Making Yogurt from Cream, which was confusing to me:

    ‘When it is luke-warm, or wrist-temperature (body temperature), add yogurt to the cream.’

    Where is the yogurt from?


    • You take the cream, put it in a pot then heat it up to 100 degrees. Add some yogurt from a yogurt you have bought at the store, Brown Cow or St. Benoit’s is the best, Strass is not, (the sweeter the yogurt the fresher, the harder and more sour the older, says alot about what you are buying at the store. Yogurt should have the consistency of snot, excuse the dramatic explanation) and then let the cream set for about 6 to 8 hours in a warm and dark setting. i turn on my oven to 110 degrees and then turn it off and leave it in there for the fermentation process. Hope that clarifies things. Glad you enjoyed the article.

  2. Pingback: Oil Pulling: An ancient Ayurvedic treatment, or is it? | trueayurveda

  3. Pingback: Once again your being duped. Real ghee, It is NOT what you are buying in the store. | trueayurveda

    • You can purchase from here:

      Ghee here is prepared exactly as per the method showed here. $39.99 as per my knowledge.

    • Sanyam, thanks for the link and your comment. Sadly, ghee does not cost $45 for a liter in mass production like this in India (it is $45 on the site) since that is about 1/11 of the monthly median income for a middle-class income here in India. This is incredible greed and only using the naivety of the international masses and consumerism, therefore, I have deleted the link in your comment because I will not support this lack of integrity and consumerism. People can very easily make their own for a fraction of that cost.

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