Ghee, a lesson in Slowing Down
Living in the modern-day city is all about convenience. We can buy ready-made meals and fresh produce at the supermarket, order any kind of cuisine we want. Rarely do we slow down to think about how our butter, cheese, flours, etc. are made, let alone consider that we could make some of these foods ourselves. The first time someone told me I could make ghee from scratch at home, I wasn't willing to go beyond buying some regular organic butter from the store and simmering it over my stovetop at what was probably in retrospect way too high a temperature. The result was passable, but when rushing through it, it is hard to tell if you're getting a pure product, or if you've overcooked it. At any rate, when you're just going through the motions, what you're creating isn't likely to be anything special.
The real magic happens when love and attention is put towards the entire process, and when it comes to making ghee, there is a lot of love and attention to be given. After learning how to make cultured ghee all the way from raw cream in my Ayurvedic culinary training course, I decided I would go all the way and start as far back in the process as practically possible.
Living in an industrialized city means that going out to a dairy farm isn't all that practical. Luckily, a few grocers in the Long Beach area such as Mother's and Sprouts carry non-homogenized whole milk and organic, grass-fed heavy cream. The best milk to use is from grass-fed happy cows whose milk hasn't been ultra-pasteurized and homogenized before it hits the shelves. These processes are to ensure that the milk is sterile and that the cream doesn't separate from the milk, but in doing so, makes it much harder for the human system to digest. I grew up believing that milk gives me terrible indigestion, so it wasn't until I learned about this in my training that I recently gave milk consumption another chance, and I'm glad to say that buying purer, higher quality milk has made a world of difference.
I started the process by making a whole-milk yogurt. This was done by heating whole milk to a higher temperature, then mixing in a yogurt starter, followed by approximately 8 hours of incubation. The following day, I then took 4 pints of organic heavy cream and used the same method of making yogurt to culture the cream. Essentially the outcome was a yogurt made of heavy cream. The benefits of cultured ghee vs. regular ghee are outlined in What to Eat for How You Feel by Divya Alter, along with detailed instructions on how to make the ghee. From there, I poured the cultured cream yogurt into a mixer and proceeded to churn it into cultured butter.
It's actually very easy to make homemade butter. The only ingredient required is heavy whipping cream, and what happens is that you whip the cream until it becomes whipped cream, then continue to whip it until it separates into butter and butter milk. Squeezing the buttermilk out of the butter and shaping it into balls was so satisfying, and made my hands feel super smooth and soft!