What is ghee?
Ghee is an extra clarified butter, rendered through the long, slow application of heat to promote the separation of milk solids. True ghee is prepared over an open flame so that moisture is released, creating a shelf-stable product with long-term potency, and is cooked for a longer time than clarified butter so that the milk solids caramelize, giving it a richer flavor. The removal of lactose and casein makes ghee a wonderful butter alternative for most people who are intolerant of dairy.
Where does ghee originate from?
Ghee is most commonly known in the context of Ayurveda, an at least 5000-year old tradition of medicine that originated in India, and which prioritizes the healing powers of food. Ayurveda has an ancient history of championing ghee as the healthiest source of edible fat, considering it a vital food for optimal digestion, vibrant skin, bioavailability of nutrients (aiding in nutrient assimilation into our bodies), and mental clarity. However, the process of clarifying butter as a method of preservation is ancient and widespread, including in the culinary traditions of North Africa, Yemen, Mongolia, Brazil, Ethiopia, and Russia.
How does ghee benefit me?
Oh, the benefits of ghee are many!
1. Ghee has one of the highest smoke points of any oils available, at 480 degrees or more (regular butter has a smoke point of 350 degrees, while olive oil's is 370). This is incredibly important, as in the words of Dr. Daniel and Tana Amen, authors of The Brain Warrior's Way, when oil reaches its smoke point and beyond, it oxidizes. "Think of the rust on an old car-- that is oxidation. That same process occurs in your body when you consume foods (including fats and oils) that have been oxidized: highly reactive compounds called free radicals are created, which are harmful to the body's cells. Some studies have shown that consuming oxidized oils increases inflammation, which may damage your DNA and can make you more vulnerable to Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer." The high smoke point of ghee makes it an excellent oil for deep frying, sautéing, baking, and roasting.
2. Ghee is a nutrient-rich food, including vitamins A, D, E and K, which depend on fat to be properly absorbed by the body. Ghee made from organic butter sourced from pasture-raised cows is also a natural source of conjugated linolenic acid (CLA), which is indicated to slow the progression of heart disease and some types of cancer. Furthermore, ghee is a rich source of butyric acid, a fatty acid that is deeply supportive of the gut's microbiome and gastrointestinal health. Ghee sourced from pastured cows additionally contains Omega 3 and Omega 9 fatty acids, which most people are generally deficient in. These fatty acids have been indicated as crucial to proper hydration, literally helping our cells to retain more water. Further, Omega 3's are specifically depleted during pregnancy and lactation, and are crucial for both mama and baby's health.
3. The purity of ghee makes it exceptionally bioavailable, long prized for increasing nutrient absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and minerals from the foods and herbs with which it is paired. Actually able to pass through the lipid membranes of our cells, the nutrients that accompany foods and herbs cooked in, paired with, or infused into ghee can penetrate deeply into our bodies. For this reason, ghee has a long history of being used as a carrier oil (or menstruum) for medicinal, herbal preparations in the Ayurvedic tradition.
What differentiates your ghee from others?
Belly of the Sun's ghee is handcrafted on an open flame, per tradition, and made in small batches to ensure perfection. Most ghee available for purchase today is created in giant, enclosed, commercial steam kettles that actually prevent the evaporation of moisture; it can therefore be argued that the process and product are inauthentic. We employ the invaluable tool of time, and take the extra step of not just "separating" the milk solids, but caramelizing and removing them through a slow process of rendering and then straining, so that we don't just offer clarified butter, but pure ghee.
Furthermore, we specialize in potent herbal preparations that honor ghee as a superior menstruum-- the term used in herbal medicine for any solvent that can extract medicinal properties from the plants. Each menstruum carries a different energy, spirit and history, its unique medicine blending with what is extracted in order to amplify. We offer synergistic blends of favored plant and mushroom allies to bring you a deep sense of nourishment and seamlessly enhance your own kitchen apothecary.
Where does the butter come from?
We co-create with USDA-certified organic, vat-cultured butter from the hyper-local Sierra Nevada Cheese Company, which partners exclusively with local, Northern California family dairies committed to pasture-raised practices. It is then slow-churned with live active cultures just 90 miles from our headquarters at their creamery in Willows, CA.
What is the shelf life of your ghee?
Our ghee can be stored for up to a year from the time of creation (this date can be found on each jar as part of the lot number). Once opened, each jar should be consumed within 3 months (refrigeration can double this shelf life to 6 months). Please store in a cool, dark place and use a clean, dry utensil each time you dip in so that the ghee retains its integrity.
Who is behind Belly of the Sun?
Belly of the Sun was founded by Sheerlie, a folk herbalist by training and years of practice. She is a certified Food Safety Manager in the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals, and all offerings are crafted in a commercial kitchen utilizing exclusively stainless steel equipment. Originally, these creations were introduced by Sheerlie in the spring of 2020 within the container of a cold-pressed juice business she co-founded and has since moved on from, rebranding and relaunching under Belly of the Sun with an expanded line of blends in early 2021. She first learned how to make herbal ghee at the Spirit Weaver's Gathering in the summer of 2017, by the creators of Kosmic Kitchen, and has been a tad obsessed ever since. Sheerlie believes wholeheartedly in the power of food as medicine and was delighted to discover that clarified butter (smen) is an ancient tradition from her own matrilineal Moroccan heritage.