If you would like a video tutorial on how to make your own clarified butter (aka ghee), click here.
Warning: Skip to this next paragraph if the science behind why people started clarifying butter isn’t so interesting to you.
Hey guys! I know on my “Paleo Primer” page, I mention that clarified butter is allowed in the Paleo diet. First off, I want you to know that clarified butter, also known as ghee, is literally just the fat content of butter. This butter fat has been proven to be extremely beneficial in lowering inflammation, providing antioxidants and micronutrients, and supplying you with necessary fat – both saturated AND unsaturated. Some studies have even proven ghee as beneficial in lowering bad cholesterol. Butter in its natural state is about 80% fat, with the rest being animal proteins. But you say that protein is good, right? Yes… just not if it comes from dairy products. You see, casein is one of the two types of protein found in dairy products, and it has a very close chemical structure to gluten. This is why about half of the people with Celiac’s also have issues digesting dairy. It also contains casomorphins, protein fragments that can cross the gut barrier into the rest of your body in those who already suffer from leaky gut syndrome (which most people on a “traditional western diet” do). The other form of protein found in dairy, called whey protein, which is used as a powder by many athletes trying to gain muscle (and, I’ll admit, I use whey isolate as well when training to add muscle because I have tested my body with and without whey, and do not notice a huge sensitivity to it). However, whey consumption leads to a spike in insulin which is bad for many people, especially sufferers of diabetes and like diseases. As I mentioned, I do supplement with whey isolate (whey in its purest form) but that is when I am working to gain muscle and only when I cannot get a better alternative protein (such as egg white protein). In short, I prefer to avoid casein all the time and use whey sparingly. For your own personal use, it is best to cut out all forms of dairy protein at the beginning of your Paleo adventures, with most experts recommending a period of 30 days. If you want to reincorporate some whey if you’re an athlete and see if you notice a difference, it’s always good to try just so you know what does and does not work well with you. This is all a discovery process with how our bodies work. 🙂
So how do I “clarify” butter already?! To separate the fat from the dairy proteins in butter, all you need to do is heat a stick of grass-fed, pasture-raised, and unsalted butter in a small pot on the stove over low heat. Once the butter is completely melted, it will already have separated and you should remove it from the heat before it begins to boil.
The foam at the top is a little bit of dairy protein that has risen to the top of the fat, which can easily be skimmed off with a spoon. The rich and translucent golden “oil” under this thin layer of protein is the fat, which is what you want to pour into a jar of some sort and save. The majority of the dairy proteins will be on the bottom of the pot and you can hold these back while pouring the fat into your storage container.
And here is a photo of the protein that is left over on the bottom…
A final note: Yes, I was very specific in the kind of butter you need to use because the raising of the animal is crucial in the outcome of the nutritional value of its meat and, in this case, butter. Animals raised in slaughter houses are often diseased and pumped with toxic chemicals to prevent the diseases from spreading, and this is absorbed into the fat in their meat and milk. And since we’re trying to render the fat from the butter, guess what? All of those toxins are stored in the clarified butter you’ve just made. No, thanks. I recommend Kerry Gold brand butter – it really is gold and becomes even darker once clarified. And if you don’t want to make your own clarified butter (which you should because it’s crazy easy and way cheaper), you can always look for ghee at an Asian food store or other specialty grocer, like Whole Foods, in your area.