1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Ghee

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GHEE (Hindustani ghi), a kind of clarified butter made in the East. The best is prepared from butter of the milk of cows, the less esteemed from that of buffaloes. The butter is melted over a slow fire, and set aside to cool; the thick, opaque, whitish, and more fluid portion, or ghee, representing the greater bulk of the butter, is then removed. The less liquid residue, mixed with ground-nut oil, is sold as an inferior kind of ghee. It may be obtained also by boiling butter over a clear fire, skimming it the while, and, when all the water has evaporated, straining it through a cloth. Ghee which is rancid or tainted, as is often that of the Indian bazaars, is said to be rendered sweet by boiling with leaves of the Moringa pterygosperma or horse-radish tree. In India ghee is one of the commonest articles of diet, and indeed enters into the composition of everything eaten by the Brahmans. It is also extensively used in Indian religious ceremonies, being offered as a sacrifice to idols, which are at times bathed in it. Sanskrit treatises on therapeutics describe ghee as cooling, emollient and stomachic, as capable of increasing the mental powers, and of improving the voice and personal appearance, and as useful in eye-diseases, tympanitis, painful dyspepsia, wounds, ulcers and other affections. Old ghee is in special repute among the Hindus as a medicinal agent, and its efficacy as an external application is believed by them to increase with its age. Ghee more than ten years old, the purāna ghrita of Sanskrit materia medicas, has a strong odour and the colour of lac. Some specimens which have been much longer preserved—and “clarified butter a hundred years old is often heard of”—have an earthy look, and are quite dry and hard, and nearly inodorous. Medicated ghee is made by warming ordinary ghee to remove contained water, melting, after the addition of a little turmeric juice, in a metal pan at a gentle heat, and then boiling with the prepared drugs till all moisture is expelled, and straining through a cloth.