By Maria Nakirya, Program Coordinator, CELAC Program
From my interaction with cattle keeping tribes in Uganda, I learnt more about ghee. It is a lot more that an appetizer put in beans or groundnuts to give it a more exotic taste.
Ghee is clear butter fat made out of goat, cow or sheep’s milk. It is made in many different areas of the world. In Uganda, it is common among the cattle keeping tribes in western, eastern and north eastern Uganda.
Farmers say that milk extracted from sheep is usually of higher quality because sheep milk has high fat content and more solid contents compared to goat and cow’s milk. Also goats and sheep being, small ruminants are important for milk during the dry season and during droughts periods since they are easy to look after during such periods.
Ghee is digestible and rich in Vitamin A and E which are valuable nutrients for our health. It is good for improving memory and lubricates the connective tissue. Ghee also helps to prevent wounds and scars if applied quickly to the affected body part. Scientists say that ghee promotes all the three aspects of mental functioning i.e. learning, memory and recall there by upholding ones mind.
Ghee has an advantage for people who are on low fat diet. This is because to get the food flavored, it needs very little amount of ghee compared to other cooking oil types where one needs higher quantities to get such flavor. Since ghee is traditionally processed, it gives a rich yellow colour with a fresh scent and flavor.
One can make ghee using either fresh milk or cream. Either way, one needs milk (it can be goat, sheep or cow milk; or cream derived), water, a gourd, clean cotton cloth and a saucepan.
To make ghee from milk, get milk of the needed quantity and put in a container or gourd, leave for 4 to 5 days to ferment. After, put in a container and stir for about 30 minutes until it begins forming curds separated from water. Get the ghee and boil for a few minutes to remove extra water then remove and store in a cool place ready to use.
To make ghee from milk cream, obtain 1liter of cream from cooled boiled milk and leave to ferment. Get about one full spoon of fermented milk, or yoghurt if you prefer and add it in the cream. This prevents it from getting moulds. Then leave for one night and shake the mixture for at least 30 minutes until the solid ghee separates from the milk. After, boil the ghee on low fire for about 40 minutes to drain extra water, sieve to remove extra dirty particles and store in a cool place, preferably in a plastic container.
To obtain a better flavor, farmers opt to keep the ghee for a longer period of time so as it is able to mature.
In India, they use butter to make ghee instead of milk. They get butter, put it in a heavy stainless steel pan, and melt it on low heat and leave to boil until bubbles start to form. Then, they remove the bubbles and cook until the boiling butter obtains a solid light yellow color. This is oil with no water content. They then leave the boiling butter, which is already becoming obtaining a solid form to cook until it is brown in color. This process takes about 45 minutes. Thereafter, they filter the brown boiling butter with the help of a thick cotton cloth to remove brown particles. The ghee is then ready and kept in a cool dry place for future use as desired
Irrespective of the method of ghee formation, ghee can be stored at a room temperature for a period of at least 6 months without refrigeration. Option to store it in the fridge prolongs its storage life to up to one year. Take extra care not to use a wet or stained spoon when scooping ghee for use. Contact with water or any other liquid or solids will result into rot.
Farmers use ghee to fry all types of food including vegetables, fish and beans. Use it ordinarily as a frying ingredient or as a flavor additive.