Ghee (clarified butter) also known as ghrita, has been utilized for thousands of years in Ayurveda. Ghee is strongly recommended in daily diet and Ayurvedic therapeutics such as “Panchakarma” or “Anupana” (accompaniment) for various medicines. Ayurvedic classics describe eight kinds of ghee from eight different animal milk; among them ghee made from desi cow’s milk is said to be the superior.
The quality of ghee depends on the type and quality of milk and method of preparation. The raw material of always determines the quality of final product. In this case too, A2 milk from naturally grazing desi cows is far superior as a raw material than commercially available homogenized A1 milk from imported cows.
Ghee is mostly prepared by traditional method in Indian households or by direct cream method at industry level. Let us understand each of them:
Preparation of “Ghrita” by traditional ayurvedic method:
Desi Cow’s A2 milk is boiled and cooled at room temperature. About 5% curd is added as starter culture, mixed, and incubated for 8-10 hrs at room temperature. Curd formed is manually churned, in clock-wise & anti-clock-wise directions until butter floats on top of the buttermilk. Butter is washed 3-4 times using water to remove residual butter milk and then heated in stainless steel container till it is clarified. Clear liquid “ghrita” is then decanted in a glass container.
Preparation of “Ghee” by direct cream method for commercial uses:
Cream is separated from whole cow milk (usually A1 type commercially available milk) and heated in stainless steel pan. Clear molten clarified butter is decanted and stored in glass container. This is the method employed by all companies mass-producing what is branded as “Ghee”
Ghrita is fairly shelf-stable largely because of its low moisture content and possible anti-oxidative properties. The storing quality of traditional desi ghee is better than that of direct cream or creamery butter ghee because of the presence of phospholipids.
Findings from a study suggests that “Ghrita” prepared by traditional ayurvedic methods contains higher amount of DHA or Docosahexaenoic acids & Omega-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which is a major component of retinal and brain tissues and remains important in prevention of various diseases. DHA contributes to reduced risk of diseases like heart attack, cancer, insulin resistance, arthritis.
Lactic acid bacillus cultures along with added lactose and fructose are shown to promote formation of conjugated linoleic acid. DHA along with fat-soluble vitamins, anti-oxidants, and conjugated linoleic acid (CLA) could be responsible for health benefits of Ghrita which is not present in same quantity in commercial ghee.
In Ayurveda too Panchgavya Ghrita, useful for brain tissues & mind disturbances including stress, insomnia, depression, OCD, autism, epilepsy etc should be made using traditional methods only. Only then it works at 'anu' or atomic level for a calm mind and good sleep.
Mass production of Ghrita, commercially available for consumption purpose is unlikely to be made using the traditional method and hence not as useful.