For a week or two now there’s been a 500ml carton of whipping cream staring back at me every time I open the fridge. I don’t remember why I bought it. I probably had a grandiose baking idea one day then ran out of time- or out of steam before getting around to it. Last night when I got home after spending a few days out of town, I noticed that it expires today.
I really don't like wasting food. It's less about wasting money and more about the satisfaction that comes from rescuing perfectly useable stuff, but I am guilty of throwing out the odd scrap when I just don’t feel like dealing with it. In these lazy moments I end up doing a whole new exciting grocery shop with big plans for the upcoming week of food. Groceries are like a relationship that only lasts a week. The anticipation is major. Walking through the aisles, making decisions, checking prices… Then you bring it all home, you load up the cupboards, and if you’re me, you immediately make the snack of your dreams. A few days later, the honeymoon is over. The celery is starting to wilt (no longer begging to be made into ants on a log), there’s only 1 egg left and one scrambled egg is the saddest thing I can imagine, There’s honey- but no yogurt to drizzle it over...
I could go on.
So you get creative. Your snacks start to become make-shift versions of your original cravings. A single fried egg will kinda do the trick, but the overall feeling you get when you enter the kitchen is not ideal. The relationship with your groceries ends due to lack of enthusiasm and a pining for something new.
So I had this whipping cream and I really didn't want to throw it out. To extend its life, I decided to make ghee. Ghee is the Indian version of clarified butter. It differs from French clarified butter in that it is cooked longer, so that the milk solids actually brown slightly, and all of the water from the butter is evaporated away. It is the moisture in food that causes spoilage (which is why dry bread crumbs don’t get moldy and why butter lasts longer than cream). So by removing the water from the butter, the ghee should last for a few months in the fridge, or a few weeks on the counter. Plus, browning the milk solids make it really nutty and rich. It’s also really easy and very satisfying. Ghee has a really high smoke point, so it is perfect to cook with on high heat.
How to make Ghee:
If you're starting with cream:
Pour heavy whipping cream into food processor (or a jar, if you’re in the mood to shake it for a long time).
Process for about 5 minutes. First it will become whipped cream, then it will start to look chunky, then it will separate out into butter and liquid.
Squeeze out the liquid using cheesecloth or a tea towel.
That’s it! You’ve got butter. Add salt if you want it salty. Salt also makes it lasts longer.
Stay with me if you want to take it further:
Place the butter into a saucepan, and turn the heat to medium.
Melt uncovered, and keep cooking it until there is NO MORE STEAM coming from the pot, and the sound changes from a boiling sound to a crackly sound. This will probably take 15-20 minutes.
Look for brown bits at the bottom of the pot. This indicates that it is done!
Strain the ghee through a strainer lined with a coffee filter (or another cloth)
Let it cool on the counter and you're good to go.