Every heard of ghee (pronounced gee)? How 'bout butter oil? Clarified butter?
I hadn't until about six months ago when I was looking for healthy cooking oils as alternatives to the old standbys that, I'm discovering, aren't as fantastic as we're told they are. (More about that at the bottom of the post if you're interested.)I like coconut oil for baking, granola, curry, and other sweeter cooking but the coconut flavor can come through so if it's a savory dish I like more of a butter taste.
Anyway, ghee is original to South Asia and is used for rices and lentils mostly but it is delicious on steamed vegetables. From what I've read when you heat the butter the milk solids are removed so it has been known to be a good option for people with a low dairy tolerance. It's great for frying and sauteing with a high smoke point of 482 F and has been shown to lower bad cholesterol as naturally saturated fat foods will do. (Yes, saturated fat may actually be GOOD for you and low fat just might be bad but that's another discussion for another day).
So... where can you get ghee?
I have seen it in stores sold in jars but it's so simple to make and I know exactly what the butter source is so I quickly and easily make my own.
No, not all butter is created equal. Grassfed and the darkest yellow you can find are best.
I personally prefer Kerrygold blocks wrapped in foil, not the spreadable tubs and have found that the best price around is at Trader Joes.
Alton Brown the second foam indicates that the ghee is done. It will be a deep golden yellow and the milk solids will fall to the bottom of the pan..
So why not olive oil or canola?
First, I am not a nutritionist and have conducted no personal studies but our families eating mantra is "as God intended it" which basically just means with as little processing, pesticides, and tampering with as possible. If it required intense processes and intimidating machines... we avoid it. That's about as simple as I can get.
Olive oil is great IF you don't overheat it. Research has shown that olive oil can be damaged at temperatures as low as 320 F. Some go as far as to describe its post heated makeup as "toxic". We use it on salads and just about anything else we don't heat.
Canola Oil is a product that all together gives me the willies. It's sold as a health product but nothing about it makes me feel good. According to Sally Fallon, co-founder of the Weston A. Price Foundation writes in her cookbook Nourishing Traditions...
"the newest oil on the market, canola oil was developed from rape seed ... which is considered unsuited to human consumption because it contains a long-chain fatty acid called erucic acid, which under some circumstances is associated with fibrotic heart lesions. Canola oil was bred to contain little if any erucic acid and has drawn the attention of nutritionists because of its high oleicacid content. but there are some indications that canola oil presents dangers of its own. it has a high sulphur content and goes rancid easily ... during the deodorizing process, the omega 3 fatty acids of processed canola oil are transformed into trans fatty acids..."
Vegetable Oil is almost always corn oil or soy oil and both of those ingredients are high on the GMO list. For that reason, alone, I avoid it.
The reality is that you can find research to support just about any theory you have but these are two instances that I haven't been able to refute to my satisfaction and for our family it's "better safe than sorry".