You may have heard the terms ghee and Ghruta being used interchangeably. While these substances are thought of as being the same, they often have some major differences in production techniques and quality. Only one is truly considered to be liquid gold in Ayurveda.
Clarified Butter vs Ghee
We'll start from the bottom. Clarified butter and ghee are very similar - to the untrained eye, they might be seen as the same thing. Rest assured, they are not. Clarified butter is also sometimes referred to as drawn butter. Normally, butter is a concoction of a number of things: butterfat, milk solids, and water. Clarified butter, on the other hand, is butter with the milk solids removed. It is thus considered 'clear,' or clarified. Clarified butter can be made quite easily - all you have to do is simmer some unsalted butter in a pan over low heat. Firstly, the butter will begin to foam as the water evaporates. After this, white chunks will begin to form. These clumpy white things are milk solids. Once they sink to the bottom of the pan, you can pour the whole concoction through a lined strainer. The resulting liquid is your clarified butter. That sounds pretty similar to the process for making ghee, right? Right. However, ghee has a bit of a different color and flavor than clarified butter. The reason for that is because it's left to cook for longer than clarified butter. Once the milk solids fall to the bottom of the pan, the clarified butter is cooked for a bit longer. The milk solids will turn brown and begin to release a warm, toasty taste and smell. After the milk solids are strained, ghee is produced.
GhrutaGhruta is a different process entirely. Instead of simply heating butter and straining it, Ghruta is made through the traditional hand-crafted Ayurvedic process in which:
- Raw milk is cultured and allowed to ferment until it becomes curd.
- The curd is churned, then a cultured butter is made from the fats and separated from the liquid.
- The remaining cultured butter is then slowly heated and the milk fats separated, much like the production of ghee and clarified butter.
Furthermore, Ghruta is only made from A2 cows, such as Indian Gir or Desi cows. These cows hold great significance for the Hindi people, who believe that the large hump on its back is able to transmute sunlight into bioavailable nutrition. The Gir cows also produce a different type of milk from Jersey cows, which are most commonly used to make ghee in the West. The latter produces A1 proteins; Gir cows produce A2 proteins which contains beta-casein proteins that are much easier to digest. The much more complicated procedure of making Ghruta significantly improves upon the already impressive health benefits of ghee. The end result of this process is a powerful, tridoshic substance that can be incredibly healing. Its flavor is further enhanced when compared to ghee, and its chemical makeup is different. Because of the intensive process involved, Ghruta has a unique lipid profile when compared to ghee. The lipids are purified, allowing them to interact more effectively with the body. This allows for Ghruta to potentially reduce cholesterol levels in the body. It also won't cause the same immunological reactions that some other lipid molecules are known to cause. Authentic and pure Ghruta can help to enhance agni, and is said to look, taste, and smell the same as pure ojas. It is believed clarified butter is a tamasic food, while Ghruta is sattvic.
Differences Between Ghruta and Ghee
Ghruta is derived from the Sanskrit word for ghee: Ghrta. When English translations of Vedic texts refer to ghee, they are actually talking about Ghruta as outlined in the chart below:
|Cow Breed & Type of Milk||Ghruta is made using the milk of A2 cow breeds, such as Gir or Desi cows. A2 milk is more effectively digested and metabolized by humans because it doesn’t contain certain beta-casein proteins which can lead to impaired digestion and inflammation.||Most conventional ghee comes from A1 cow varieties (also called Hybrid cows) such as Jersey, Holstein Friesian, Ayrshire, and British Short horn. A1 milk contains certain beta-casein proteins which can lead to impaired digestion and inflammation.|
|Cow Nourishment||Ghruta is always made from free-range and grass-fed cows. These cows eat the grasses and herbs that grow in the wild each season. This plant wisdom and nourishment is then absorbed and filtered throughout the cow’s system, resulting in milk that is highly nutritive and medicinal.||Ghee can be made from cows that eat non-organic, organic, or grass-fed food. If organic, certification requires that the cows eat the same certified organic food all year and farmers need to keep their herds in confined spaces instead of allowing them to roam free.|
|Ethical Treatment||Cows which make Ghruta are treated as sacred according to Hindu lore. They are milked only of their own free will and not by force to give priority to the feeding of their calves. In addition, these cows are never sacrificed or consumed and the breed is generationally sustained.||Most conventional ghee brands purchase their milk from farms that do not consider cows sacred.|
|Spiritual Benefits||A2 cow varieties are revered in Vedic Astronomy as potent vessels for the illuminating energy of the sun. These cows have a hump on their back that harnesses the solar rays and converts them into gold-bearing micro minerals and life energy.||A1 cow breeds experience the sun if they are allowed to roam free, but they do not possess the anatomical equipment to transmute the rays into bioavailable nutrition.|
|Fermentation||Ghruta is made from cultured milk, which produces ghee that has a richer aroma and flavor, more lactic and butyric acids, greater benefits for digestion, and a longer shelf life.||Conventional ghee is not fermented as it is made from milk that is churned into butter.|
|Production Process||Begins with pure A2 whole milk from grass-fed, free-range Gir or Desi cows. The milk is lightly heated under a low flame to remove impurities and then put into earthen pots to ferment into curd. The curds are churned by traditional techniques from which the cultured butter is separated from the buttermilk. The cultured butter is simmered until the milk solids sink to the bottom and darken in color, and the butter turns clear. The solids are strained to create pure Ghruta, which is characterized by its granular texture.||May begin with milk that is churned into butter. The butter is then heated until the milk solids sink to the bottom and darken in color, and the butter turns clear. The solids are strained to create ghee.|
|Production Techniques||Handcrafted in small batches according to ancient Ayurvedic methods.||Production techniques vary and may be handcrafted or produced in large facilities.|
|Ayurvedic Traditions||Ghruta’s name derives from the Sanskrit word “ghrta,” meaning clarified lipid. Its esoteric meaning, however, is ‘illumined’ due to the ancient Ayurveda kindling process that reveals the life energy hidden in cow milk.||Conventional ghee is toasted clarified butter.|
|Health Benefits||The much more complicated production process of Ghruta significantly amplifies the already impressive health benefits of ghee. The powerful, ultra pure nature of Ghruta has a unique lipid profile when compared to conventional ghee which allows it to interact more effectively with the body and won’t cause the same immunological reactions that some other lipid molecules are known to cause.|
|Shelf Life||The shelf life of Ghruta is longer than that of ghee. In fact, Ghruta is often intentionally aged, which enhances the taste, smell, and medicinal value over time (the longer it is stored, the whiter in color it will become). In Ayurveda, Ghruta is known to be stored indefinitely; its value increasing the longer it is aged.||Conventional ghee can often be used for up to one year.|
Ghruta vs Ghrita vs Ghrta
As noted above, Ghruta, also known as Ghrita, is the Ayurvedic term for ghee, which is derived from the Sanskrit word Ghrta. In current conversation and literature, the terms Ghruta and ghee can have different meanings depending on how they were produced. If the ghee is produced using traditional Ayurveda methods as outlined in the chart above (in that it is a clarified lipid that is made using the ancient, traditional hand crafted techniques, by way of sacred, grass fed, free range cows using raw A2 milk etc.). it is typically called Ayurvedic ghee or Ghruta or Ghrita. Despite the confusion between Ghrita and Ghruta, there are lots of clear differences between clarified butter vs ghee in Ayurveda. Hopefully, this article has clarified some of these differences for you.
Reviewed by Dr. Jayant Lokhande, MD (Botanical Drugs), MBA (Biotechnology)