Once again your being duped. Real ghee. It is NOT what you are buying in the store.

With the growth of ayurveda, ghee is getting more and 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.

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 and of lately there are three or so brands of it now available.

This is not ghee my friends. It is only clarified butter. Not at all the same thing. It will not have the same properties of ghee and will not have the effects on the body as it is missing essential qualities that are created in the correct process of making it. Real ghee is made with cultured butter, lets look at what is the difference and why.

And here is your Western researched proof as well….

we have scientific research showing the difference with traditionally made ghee….
No, what you have told by your Ayurveda teacher or practitioner about melting down a stick of butter, its only show the level of education they have.


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 knowledge of the person of the use of the substance. Even the most incredible medicine is poison when made/handled/consumed wrong.

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. The refrigeration creates a cold quality that make the yogurt even more difficult to digest.


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. (can be found on another post on this 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 defines what “ghee” is. The fire element creates a digestive quality to the butter. Fire is transformative 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.
As soon as the cream boils, remove it from the heat to cool.
When it is luke-warm, or wrist-temperature (body temperature), add yogurt to the cream.
Put all of them 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 1.5: 2nd Version of getting the cream
In India, milk is not anything like what it is in America. There are not refrigerators everywhere. Think about this. So therefore milk is generally very fresh. Either delivered to you in a metal container daily or bought in a small liter package first thing in the morning from the corner where the milk guy comes to sell at 5 AM. The milk is taken home and brought to a boil. It is then set aside or kept on a very low heat. Cream accumulates on the top after time. This cream is skimmed off and collected. It is placed with yogurt and left to culture. Then the rest of this post is followed to make the butter into ghee….
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.
(something to note here… the little subtle things are so important. Ex. by churning the cream with different instruments, it produces a different product. Too fast and it doesn’t produce properly. These little subtle different actions is what
Step 2.2 2nd Version of getting butter for ghee
This is actually the only real classical way of making ghee. When you make buttermilk or what is known as takra on this blog, you skim off the butter that is made from the churning. This is then melted down and the butter cooked out as following the rest of this article.

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.

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 will taste very different. Try this for yourself. This is the best way to learn, experientially. There is much much more to all of this as well, this is but the start.

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.


Bhavapraksha of Bhavamishra
Charaka Samhita


12 thoughts on “Once again your being duped. Real ghee. It is NOT what you are buying in the store.

  1. I am so full of joy to see your blog each day. In the past few weeks with the full moon both coming, eclipse, and moving through your writing feels as if it is for me.
    Life has been a path of healing for the past few years and my ever increasing vibrance is in part from your communication.
    You are a blessing. Thank you for sharing your teaching.

    • Namaskar

      Thank you. Thank you for the comment and sharing. Truth be told, most of the time I am flickering like a candle flame about this blog and putting out any information at all. When I look out there in the West, all I see in the world of Ayurveda and yoga is huge ego and lots and lots of superficial information that is hardly correct. I see teachers that are in huge lack of integrity for not knowing about what they are teaching and then i see the harm that all of this does to the masses and the followers. I know that it is peoples karma but from where i sit, I cannot see real Ayurveda or yoga ever stepping into the Western world. There is no context for it. The ghee is just one of thousands of examples i could go on and on about.
      The other part is that teachers in the West, they just take from places, like this blog, and then they start to teach this or other things they have picked up. There is not a bit of knowledge in that and it is very dark. If someone doesd not have the foundation to already know this stuff, then they need to start all over and learn before being a “teacher”. So yes, i constantly flicker as to delete this blog and stop putting anything out there.
      So thanks for your comment. I am glad someone is getting something out of this.

  2. Pingback: Real Kitchari: An easy healthy dish to make for any meal anytime. | trueayurveda

    • Welcome again. There is a whole lot more where that came from too. Really most of this blog is really basic information. Really basic. States alot about what is out there.

  3. Hello. Where I live, I can’t get fresh yogurt — only store-bought. I would like to make my own yogurt. I can get kefir “grains,” but I believe these will create too sour of a yogurt for making buttermilk and ghee, as I’d like to do. Is that correct?

    Can you suggest a different kind of yogurt starter, since I can’t get fresh yogurt here?

    • Lisa, You can use yougurt that you buy at the store as a starter. Just flash boil the milk then when it cools down below 100 degrees add a scoop of the yogurt and stir then place it in a warm dark place. in about 6 or more hours you will have fresh yogurt. Then take new milk and flash boil again, then add a scoop of this new yogurt to it as directions above and continue doing this with each batch. Will make some good yogurt.

    • Thank you for response. I’m beginning to nibble at the edges of your blog and find it satisfying. Thank you for revealing BS as you do.

      On to details…by “flash boil,” do you simply mean putting the milk over high heat, then removing it from the heat as soon as the milk begins to steam/froth/rise?

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

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