As the child of two devout kale-smoothie-non-GMO-crunchy-granola yoga teachers, from infancy I have been spoon fed brown rice and avocados, endured lectures on the importance of buying organic strawberries (the conventionally farmed kind absorb chemicals extra easily because they’re so porous), and attended many a farmers market, salad-making class and vegan picnic convention. So I have a decent handle on health and wellness-esque jargon. One vocabulary word that I couldn’t define, however, was ghee. Emerging on nutrition labels and making a debut in the saucepans of health-conscious East Coast Americans, ghee and its long list of benefits have recently wooed everyone from the home chef to the top chef.
Lynn Goodwin, ayurvedic health educator and one half of Farm to Gold Ghee, knows a good deal about the stuff. She and business partner Kim Welch established Farm to Gold Ghee last fall after the two former insurance and corporate employees turned health and wellness coaches met at the California College of Ayurveda and discovered ghee through their studies. Having experienced its benefits firsthand, they were inspired to bring ghee to the East Coast.
Ghee is essentially clarified butter, Goodwin explains. They start with unsalted butter produced by grass-fed cows from a farm in upstate New York. When cooked at low heat for two to three hours, the milk solids separate and the water evaporates. After it’s filtered a few times, they’re left with a clean, lactose-free cooking oil.
But ghee isn’t just a less-bad-for-you butter. “Because all the toxins are cooked off, the body can assimilate it very easily, so it both cleanses and nourishes all the tissues,” Goodwin said.
It’s also a “good mood food” — high in Omega 3 fats so it supports brain health and the central nervous system. Goodwin found that ghee improved her digestion and dry skin.
So why has this miracle cure-all serum remained so unheard of among our obesity plagued, heart-diseased nation? Actually, ghee is old news — about 5,000 years old.
“It’s nothing new, but it is new to a lot of us in the United States,” Goodwin explains. “In ayurveda, where ghee originated, it’s considered the supreme food for building a strong immune system and a stable mind. It’s used in most Indian recipes.”
Not only are the health benefits legendary, but chefs like using ghee for its high smoke point. Where butter will brown at high temperatures and olive oil will go rancid, ghee remains perfectly clear, both a practicality and a feature of flavor enhancement.
“The beauty of ghee is that when you use it in a dish, the flavor is just unmatched,” said Sanjiv Dhar, owner of the well-loved Indian restaurants Kabob and Curry in Providence, Rasoi in Pawtucket and Rasa in East Greenwich, and a longtime ghee user.
“When you roast bold spices in ghee, they have a very unique essence. The aroma is wonderful. You could use one tablespoon of ghee instead of five tablespoons of butter, and I think you would have better results, both from a cooking point of view and from a health point of view.”
Goodwin and Welch consider their customers to be of the “health conscious foodie” variety. Although my upbringing has definitely formed me into just that, I am a hesitant home chef. When left to my own devices, eggs, simple stirfrys and salads (and, yes, OK sometimes cold pizza) make up most of my diet. But, as Goodwin assured me, while she might use ghee to saute onions for pea soup or a frittata, it’s also just as delicious spread on toast.
So I put ghee, and my slightly inadequate cooking skills, to the test. One morning, I greased a pan with a dollop of Farm to Gold Ghee, quickly realizing that a little goes a long way and lapping up the excess for a piece of sprouted toast before splashing a mass of scrambled eggs into the hot pan. As promised, the ghee remained perfectly clear.
Dhar was right, the aroma was wonderful. While definitely recognizable as a derivative of its less clean counterpart, the ghee had a stronger, layered scent as distinctive as it was delicious. And the smell wafting from my kitchen was no tease either, as my routine breakfast transformed into a flavorful, lick-the-plate worthy food experience that left me more confident than ever in my basic cooking abilities — and feeling far less greasy afterward.
Farm to Gold Ghee is currently sold every other Wednesday at the Aquidneck Growers Market in Newport and every other Saturday at the Coastal Grower’s Market at Casey Farm in Saunderstown.
Source: Jacqueline Marque | Staff Photographer