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Extending the Shelf Life of Ghee for Long Term Storage
Ghee is a healthy fat known for its high smoke point, nutritional benefits, and multipurpose uses outside the kitchen, so if you are looking to keep ghee in your pantry it is important to know how to extend its shelf life of ghee.
Since ghee has been an important part of South Asian cuisine and religious life, there are a lot of theories on how to properly store ghee. We did our research and found that ghee kept at room temperature can be stored for three months, but if frozen, it can be stored well past two years. However, to ensure the longest possible shelf life, there are best practices to prevent rancid ghee.
What is Ghee?
Ghee is a saturated fat derived from butter. It is made by melting regular butter to separate the milk solids from the butterfat liquid. You then pour the butterfat into another container, and what is left, is the ghee. Ghee is simply the South Asian term for clarified butter.
The process of producing ghee is simple, and homemade ghee can be made with a few simple ingredients. If you live near a local farmer who sells fresh butter, ghee is a healthy fat to make at home.
Ghee originated in South Asia and has been used for centuries to not only make savory, flavorful, and delicious foods but also for medicinal and religious purposes. Its widespread use in South Asia is largely due to its relative ease in making, and the region’s appreciation for cattle. It is believed that South Asian farmers began experimenting with clarified butter to extend the shelf life of butter that would go rancid due to the high temperatures in India.
When it comes to cooking, ghee is a great tool for the kitchen. Ghee has a high smoke point of 485°F or 251°C, much higher than vegetable oils which average at 200°F.
Much like beef tallow, lard, and other natural fats, ghee has been used for centuries as a healthy cooking fat. It was only in the last century people have switched to consuming GMO vegetable oils that are highly processed and known to cause bad cholesterol and heart disease. Ghee is a healthy alternative that promotes good health and is becoming increasingly popular internationally.
How can I extend the Shelf Life of Ghee?
Extending the shelf life of clarified butter depends almost entirely on proper storage methods. Ghee should be stored in an airtight container and hidden in a dark place, such as a pantry, fridge, or freezer. This will enhance its protection from heat, oxygen, and direct sunlight, which will prevent rancidity. Knowledge of proper ghee storage techniques can provide an extended shelf life of over two years.
How to Store Ghee?
Whether you use homemade ghee or store-bought ghee, it is important you place it in an airtight container, that limits exposure to heat, oxygen, and direct sunlight. These three components are the main causes of rancidity, and to ensure the longest shelf life, it is important to protect against all three since allowing one to occur will spoil the ghee. When storing ghee, consider the following methods:
Freeze safe glass container
If you intend to use it within three months, it’s safe to store at room temperature. But for anything more than three months, it’s best to use a refrigerator or a freezer. If stored at room temperature, the ghee expires sooner but will remain fresher.
Storing Ghee in a Refrigerator
Storing ghee in a refrigerator can prolong the freshness, flavors, and health benefits of ghee. Refrigeration is a good storage method if you have a surplus of ghee, and cannot cook through it before it expires. It is also good to refrigerate ghee to protect it from heat, oxygen, and direct sunlight.
We suggest keeping ghee stored in a refrigerator since it will help ensure the best quality weeks and months after opening the jar.
Storing Ghee in a Freezer
Storing ghee in a freezer is the best solution for long-term storage. Ghee can be kept past two years in a freezer, long after the labeled expiration date.
As mentioned above, ghee is a superfood with numerous health benefits that can be kept and stored for an emergency. In an SHTF scenario in which power goes out, ghee can be moved to a room temperature location and stored for months without spoiling. Your family will be able to continue to eat healthy and nutritious foods.
How long does Ghee last?
It depends on where the ghee is stored. If kept at room temperature, fresh ghee typically lasts three months, but refrigerated ghee can last up to one year. When frozen, ghee can last over two years if sealed in an airtight container or canning jar.
Clarified butter is known to last longer than the suggested expiration on packages and could be kept longer. Insofar, you do a discoloration, smell, and taste check to confirm the ghee is still good to consume.
To extend the shelf life of ghee, ensure you avoid oxygen, heat, and direct sunlight. A quality ghee container matters as well, and it is important to use airtight containers such as mason jars.
Although ghee has a long shelf life, ideally it is consumed within one year of being made. This will ensure the best flavor and freshness. Ghee can be kept longer but the quality will deteriorate over time.
Below is a table to help visualize the shelf life of ghee by storage location:
|Storage Method||Ghee Shelf Life|
|Room Temperature||3 Month|
Does Ghee Expire?
Yes, ghee does expire. However, the lifespan of the fat can be extended past two years if stored properly. Once your ghee is past the expiration date, it may still be edible, but you should regularly check for spoilage.
To avoid early spoilage, make sure to use a clean utensil when scooping the ghee, and avoid exposure to sunlight, heat, and oxygen. Ideally, the ghee is kept in a dark place such as a freezer, fridge, or kitchen pantry.
How do you know if Ghee has gone Rancid?
Its unique qualities make ghee a product that can last longer than alternative fats and oils. Nevertheless, it has an expiration date that consumers should keep in mind. Once your ghee is past its expiration, it may still be edible, but you should regularly check for spoilage.
Pay attention to the look, smell, and taste. If the ghee appears discolored, smells spoiled, or tastes sour, it should be disposed of immediately. Spoiled ghee can cause sickness, and it is plainly unsavory. Better not to expose yourself or your family to spoiled ghee.
If the ghee has gone rancid consider recycling it dispose of it in an environmentally friendly way and give it a second use. Like other fats and oils, ghee is an organic material and can be added to compost or used for at-home DIY projects.
What is the Best Ghee?
Ghee can be made from the butter of cow, goat, or buffalo, but A2 cow milk, sourced from Desi (preferably Gir) cows, is often considered to be the ideal option for the highest quality ghee. When making ghee or looking for a store-bought brand, consider the following criteria:
Grass-fed cows: to maximize the nutritional benefits
Organic: to avoid GMOs
Unsalted butter: to control the amount and type of salt added to the ghee
Homemade ghee is the best type of ghee, especially if you can source ingredients from quality suppliers. This way, you can control the ingredients to ensure it is absent of negative additives.
Also, if you live close to an Amish community or farmer, they can provide you with organic and good butter to make ghee. In the US and Canada, it is difficult to source authentic Desi cow milk, but you may have a much easier time finding dairy products from Brahman cows. Brahman cows are an American breed of cattle that originated in India.
Health Benefits of Ghee
The benefits of ghee have been well researched as well as been shared from parent to child for generations. What we know for sure is that, ghee:
Has a high density of Butyrate – Our bodies naturally produce butyric acid, but for people with colon damage or issues with their bowel system, the body’s capacity to produce butyrate decreases significantly. (Source)
Increases Bile production – which helps break down fats and improve insulin resistance which will help regulate blood sugar, decrease inflammation, and increase energy levels. (Source)
Is high in omega 3 and omega 9 fatty acids – which are good fats the body needs to improve its immune system, brain health, and heart health. (Source)
Contains medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) – meaning it breaks down in the body easier than vegetable oils. (Source)
Contains vitamins A, D, E, and K – which are essential vitamins to ensure, the heart, bones, and brains are properly functioning. (Source)
Is rich in Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA) which protects against diabetes, carcinogens, and artery plaque. (Source)
Although a dairy product, it is common for people with lactose intolerance to consume ghee. Since the milk solids are separated from the butterfat, it removes casein and lactose from the clarified butter which reduces the effects of lactose intolerance. (Source)
To ensure you are benefiting from your intake of ghee, make sure you are consuming the best quality ghee which is sourced from grass-fed and organic ingredients.
Other Uses of Ghee
In South Asia, ghee is used outside the kitchen as a tool for everyday life. This is why we think it is important to store fats like ghee, lard, and coconut oil for long-term storage since they are super versatile tools to use at home. What’s nice about ghee, is it can be used as:
In a prolonged SHTF scenario in which supermarkets are short on household supplies, having an extra supply of ghee can be used in place of lotion, skin ointment, or lip balm. Also, keep in mind, that making ghee is relatively easy, and can be used to make supplies at home. As long as you know a local farmer who can supply you with unsalted organic butter from a grass-fed cow.
Cautionary Tips for Ghee
As mentioned previously, ghee is a superfood with numerous health benefits. However, when consuming ghee, there are certain side effects and downsides people should know. Being aware of the downsides of ghee can protect your family’s health over the long run.
Although ghee is healthy if used took cook fats, it can be made unhealthy if used in deep frying to make sweets. Ghee-based sweets are very high in sugar, and eating them regularly can lead to weight gain. Still, ghee is a much healthier frying oil than traditional vegetable oil. And given the high smoke point of 485 °F and 251°C, it fries food much better than most seed oil options.
Ghee should not be mixed with certain foods. Honey and ghee are known to mix and result in producing a toxin called, Clostridium Botulinum, which can result in stomachache, respiratory problems, and other diseases.
Lastly, one of the financial downsides is that authentic ghee from a high-quality source is expensive. If you learn to make ghee at home, you can save a lot of money over the long run.
For homesteaders and preppers, knowing the ins and outs of ghee is invaluable knowledge since making ghee at home is relatively easy, and offers more than just cooking uses. If you freeze ghee, it can be stored for over two years and kept for an emergency. However, if you intend to refrigerate it, it can be preserved for a year in a fridge and still maintain its freshness and flavor.
In an SHTF scenario, having this versatile tool in storage will allow you to continue to cook meals as it can be kept for three months at room temperature. Additionally, this could be used to barter for other resources your family may need. Clarified butter is a versatile ingredient, and would be high in demand.
Preppers who are mindful of healthy cooking and living should consider ghee because it is an ancient food made from natural ingredients and used by people in South Asia for centuries.
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