Farm family produces ghee

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(Host) A central Vermont couple has found a new niche for their dairy farm. This year, they hope to become the first Vermont producers of a cooking oil made from milk.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) It’s spelled g-h-e-e. According to Adin West, ghee has a variety of uses.

(West) “It’s kind of like Duct tape. It can be used in a million different things and we’re always finding different things to use it for.”

(Zind) On the table of Adin and Lisa West’s East Randolph farmhouse is a ghee candle. Next to it are jars of salve made with ghee. It’s also used in massage. But ghee is most popular as a cooking oil. It’s been a staple in East Indian dishes for centuries.

The Wests want to introduce ghee to a wider audience. They’ve received the green light from the state and they’re building a processing facility on their farm. By the end of summer, they hope to be the first commercial ghee producers in Vermont.

Most people think of ghee as clarified butter, but the Wests say the process is different. The butter they make from the milk produced by their herd of Jerseys is boiled in a pan similar to a sugaring pan. Eventually all the water and milk solids are gone. What’s left is a lactose free oil with a long shelf live. Lisa West says ghee can be heated to a higher temperature than clarified butter. Its rich flavor makes it ideal for cooking.

(Lisa West) “It’s buttery. In some ways it makes you think of popcorn. That’s why it tastes good in stir fry vegetables. If you eat meat, it’s good with chicken or any kind of meat.”

(Zind) Because ghee has a strong flavor, only a small amount is needed in cooking. Nutritionists say while ghee doesn’t contain harmful levels transfatty acids, it is high in saturated fat and should be used sparingly. The Wests will package their ghee in 10-ounce jars selling for about $10.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind.

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