All about Ghee: Buying Vs. making at home in Germany

Ghee is an important ingredient in Indian cooking. It is extensively used in desserts, tadka for dals, parathas, and various curries. It is a good source of fat and enhances the taste and flavor of any food multifold.

In many homes in India, Ghee is made at home. Fresh cream is collected by boiling and cooling milk. This cream is then whipped to extract the butter. This butter is then heated till clarified butter or ghee is obtained.

While it is easy to source ghee in India, the choices are limited in Germany, and the prices are high too.

In this article, I will share with my readers how we can source ghee in Germany, the products available, etc. Also, I shall explain how ghee can be easily made at home using the right ingredients. So, let’s start:

Option 1: Buy ghee from Indian stores

This is, of course, the most straightforward method. Popular Indian ghee brands like Amul and Patanjali are available in Indian stores but are priced very high. Another brand-Khanum is also available in Indian and Asian stores. It is cheaper but has a typical taste, making it more suitable for making non-vegetarian curries or tadka for dal. However, because of its strong smell, it may not be very well suited for desserts.

Choice 2: Buy ghee/Butterschmalz from German Supermarket

Orangic stores sell ghee by the same name, but this product is priced even higher than Indian brands in Indian stores. Alternatively, you can look for ‘Butterschmalz’ (clarified butter) from brands like Kerrygold and Saumweber. The smell of Butterschmalz is not like that of Indian Ghee. The prices are, however, similar to those of Indian brands.

Option 3: Make ghee at home using readymade butter:

This is the method for you if you want to make ghee quickly with the least use for vessels. You can make ghee at home using readymade unsalted butter from the supermarket. This is a slightly cheaper option (than buying readymade ghee from Indian stores or german supermarkets) but gives you similar results. You can take unsalted butter-the best I have found so far is Kerrygold butter. Read Step 9 onwards in the process described below to understand how to extract ghee from butter.

Option 4: Make butter and ghee at home using whipping cream

In the german supermarket, you can easily get ‘Schlagsahne.’ This is whipping cream. You can whip this cream till butter is formed. Store the butter in the fridge for consumption, or process it to make ghee. See Step 7 onwards in the process explained below to understand how to do it.

Option 5: Make Ghee using fresh milk:

This is the same method that is used in most homes in India. The process starts with obtaining cream from milk. But to get the milk from which you can get cream, you must start by buying the right milk.

To understand this, two terms need to be understood- Pasteurization and Homogenization

Pasteurization is a sterilization process carried out so that the milk is safe and fit for human consumption. This process is carried out by most of the milk brands in India too.

Homogenization is a process that involves pumping milk through small openings under very high pressure, thereby reducing the size of the fat globules. This causes them to disperse evenly throughout the milk. If the milk is not homogenized, these fat globules collect as a layer of cream on top of the milk after it is boiled and cooled. However, if the milk is homogenized, these globules are mixed and cannot be separated at home by boiling and cooling the milk.

Whereas the commonly available milk In India is only pasteurized (not homogenized), the commonly available milk in Germany is pasteurized and homogenized. Because of this additional homogenization of the milk, even if you boil and cool the milk, you will not get a cream layer on top.

So, what should you do to make ghee at home? Well, all hope is not lost 🙂 There were 2 ways of getting milk suitable for making ghee in Germany.

1. The first is to get Rohmilch ( Raw milk) from a nearby farm. Every city and town in Germany has a farm nearby. You can visit the farm and get raw milk from there. When fully boiled and then cooled, this milk will leave a layer of cream on top, which can be used to extract butter and ghee. However, note that raw milk is not even pasteurized. So consuming it is not completely safe. Surely you will boil it at home, but that is not enough to remove all the pathogens and bacteria. Some people even find it difficult to digest this milk.

Rohmilch or raw milk from a farm
2. The second alternative is to look for pasturiziert, nicht homogeniziert milch’. Demeter farms in Germany make milk that is pasteurized but not homogenized. On the Demeter website, look for the farm in your region and buy from there:

pasteurisiert nicht homogeniziert milch (pasteurized but not homogenized milk)
The same product is available with the brand name Schrozberger and is more easily available in Alanatura and Tegut stores.

Organic Food Store at a farm near me

I make ghee and butter at home using fresh pasteurized (not homogenized) milk. I buy 3-4 liters of milk in one shot from an Alnatura or Tegut store near me and then follow these steps:

Method to make Ghee from fresh milk:

  1. Bring the milk to a complete boil. Then take it off the heat and let it cool completely on the kitchen counter.

  2. Then keep the milk in the fridge and let it cool for at least 12 hours.

  3. After about 12 hours, a thick layer of cream gets formed on top of the milk. Carefully remove it with the help of a spoon and transfer it to an airtight box. Keep the box in the freezer.

  4. This way, collect cream every time you get milk ( Basically repeat the process- Boil the milk, Cool the milk, Collect the cream). Normally, I add a fresh batch of cream to the box in my freezer every week because we, as a family, consume about 4 liters of milk in a week.
  5. Take out the box when it is full and let it thaw a little on the kitchen counter for an hour or two. At my home, the box gets full in about 3 months. You can take out your collected cream earlier or later; it is completely up to you. In the freezer, the cream is safe, so you don’t have to worry about spoilage.
  6. After the cream has thawed a bit and you can comfortably take it out, transfer portions to your mixie jar. If you have a powerful hand blender, you can use that too.
  7. Whip the cream till butter gets formed. Here, you will observe that the cream goes through 2 phases when whipped. First, it mixes well into a homogenous mixture, then slowly, water starts getting separated, and butter forms. If the cream puts too much pressure on your mixie, add some cold water to aid in the mixing and whipping process.

    First and second stages when cream is whipped.
  8. Squeeze the butter out and separate it completely from the milky liquid. Don’t throw this watery milk. (After the end of the ghee-making process, I have explained what you can do with this.)

    Separated Butter
  9. Now, heat the butter on medium to low heat and let it simmer till it forms a clear liquid.

    Stages in which butter melts and slowly starts clarifying

    You will know when to stop when you see the bottom of the pan through the liquid. This is the stage when the ghee is ready.

    As butter slowly simmers, it transforms into a clear liquid and leaves some residue at the base.
  10. Let it cool for a while before transferring it to a jar. Take a steel strainer and pour the clear ghee into a clean and dry jar.

    Freshly prepared homemade Ghee

This ghee can be kept outside and doesn’t get spoiled for 5-6 months. The residue left after making ghee (called Churi in Hindi) need not be thrown. In fact, it is delicious. You can eat it as it is, while it is warm, OR mix it with a bit of sugar and eat it while it is warm OR combine it with a little salt and red chili powder and use it as a stuffing for paratha. It is absolutely heavenly!

Method to make Paneer and separate Whey:

In Step 8 above, after squeezing out the butter completely, what is left is a thin milky liquid. This can be used for making paneer with these simple steps:

  1. Boil this milky liquid in a separate pan.
  2. When it comes to a boil, pour the juice of a lemon into it. Immediately you will see that it starts curdling. If you don’t see that happening, add more lemon juice.

  3. Milk is completely curdled when you see the curdled milk completely separated from the liquid. This liquid is hazy and is called whey.

  4. Let it rest for 15 minutes. Then, using a strainer, separate the curdled milk from the whey. Don’t throw the whey. This is protein-rich. I have explained what you can do with it after the paneer-making process. What you have in the strainer is Paneer. This paneer, after straining completely, can use eaten as it is OR stuffed into parathas OR you can even make paneer bhurji out of it.

Note: The method for making paneer explained above is using leftover milk after taking out the butter. However, you can make paneer using any 3.5% or 3.8% fat milk. Pasteurized and homogenized milk, commonly available in the german supermarket, can be used for making paneer. Follow steps 1-4 mentioned above using the commonly available carton milk.

How to use the whey left after extracting Paneer?

The hazy liquid that remains after separating curdled milk is called whey. It is protein-rich, so don’t discard it. You can drink it by adding a pinch of salt and black pepper. But if you don’t like the taste, cool it completely and the next time you knead the dough for your bread or chapatis, use this instead of water.

With the last byproduct-Whey also getting used, this process of extracting ghee and other by-products is very effective, as nothing gets wasted. Also, with a little effort, you have prepared 6 homemade organic products- cream, butter, ghee, paneer, churi, and whey.

To read other recipes from my kitchen, click here.

To identify and understand products in german supermarkets, click here.

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