January 31, 2014

How To Make Homemade Butter and Ghee

I have gotten some requests from my friends and readers to do a post on homemade butter and ghee. I have grown up seeing my grandma do this every day. She will put aside the day's remaining milk at night for fermenting to make yogurt. In the morning after all the breakfast rush is done, she will sit on the floor with a pot and churner to separate the butter from the yogurt. So now she has butter and butter milk. Once she collects enough butter over a few days, she will melt them and make ghee and store it. Did I mention that my grandma milked her own cow to get the milk? Of course I cannot go back to those days now, I meant the 'milking my own cow' part. I have developed my own way of making homemade yogurt, butter and ghee though I don't milk a cow. I buy non-homogenized organic whole milk instead.

My mom used to follow grandma (except for the 'milking cow' part) and make her own butter and ghee too. My mom-in-law used to follow a semi-urbanized way to make her butter and ghee and I am doing something similar. So in my modern kitchen with all sorts of kitchen gadgets, I am using a very basic old-school technique without using any of my gadgets to make my butter :-)

I will not be writing this post as a recipe, instead I will share the steps I follow over the course of a week or two to get my supply of butter and ghee.

Step 1: Buy non-homogenized milk

I buy 3 half gallon jars of whole unhomegenized milk. (We do not consume a lot of milk as such, our consumption of dairy is mostly in the form of yogurt, which is made from this milk.)

Step 2: Separate the cream on top: 

On each milk carton, before you start pouring the milk out, you will see a big amount of cream that is separated on top. Remove that using a small spoon that fit thru the opening. Collect it in a glass jar and keep refrigerated. I will do this for each milk carton. 

Step3: Make yogurt:

This is not a one time process. In south indian homes, this is an everyday routine. Before you close out kitchen for the night, you would mix some warm milk with a little bit of culture to make yogurt for the next day. Read how to make yogurt here. 

Step 4: Separate the cream from yogurt: 

Just like how cream separates on top of milk, the yogurt will have most of the remaining cream separated on top. You will remove this and collect it in the same jar you have been collecting milk cream.

Step5: Make butter & buttermilk from the cream:

By the end of the week you should have a good amount of cream collected in your jar. 
  • Take a glass bottle which you can hold with your hands comfortably. Leave enough room in the bottle for the cream to move freely. 

  • Now is the fun part, start shaking the bottle up and down and sideways in a rhythmic way. Yes, shake the bottle ! 
  • The idea is basic physics that we learnt back in 6th grade, using centrifugal force to separate butter :) 
  • You will need to do this anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. 
  • Butter will separate and you will see them as yellow blobs floating in the liquid. 

  • Scoop the butter using your clean hands and make small balls, and transfer to a bowl. Try a little fresh butter and you'd never want to buy butter from the store. My husband always tells me that he used to make sure he is around when the butter is being churned at his home as he would always get a fresh dollop every time, and now my son does the same :)

  •   Remaining liquid is buttermilk. 

Step6: Melt butter into ghee: 

Once you have collected enough butter, you can make ghee from it. (I usually do this every other week, because it takes me 2 weeks to collect enough butter to make about 6-8 ounce of ghee). 
  • Heat a saucepan on medium heat and add the butter. 

  • Butter will melt and start boiling and soon it will start to become clearer. 
  • Once it is very clear and transparent (it should still be yellow and not brown) you can remove from flame.

  • Immediately strain thru a clean muslin cloth into a container. 
  • If you are using a glass jar to collect ghee, make sure to keep it on a wooden surface or a cutting board, otherwise you will break the glass bottle with the high heat of the ghee. 

  • Once the ghee the cooled down you can store it in your cupboard.  No need to refrigerate the ghee.


  1. This reminds me of how my mother used to make ghee from home made cream, she used an electric churner though.

    1. Hi Rema,
      Yes, it is very nostalgic for us too, every time I do this :-)


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