If you are familiar with my paleomazing website and recipes, you have probably noticed that ghee is something I incorporate in my cooking. There are many reasons that I choose ghee instead of butter, one of the biggest reasons being that ghee is dairy-free, and therefore is a better alternative when cooking to avoid encountering food allergies. It fits within the paleo diet as well as my active lifestyle. I have fortunately been able to talk with Nick Van Nordheim who is the owner of the company Full Circle Ghee, to gather more information on his creations! I use his ghee in my kitchen and in many of my recipes. I honestly have never tasted such unique and clean ghee, and I have used and purchased a lot from his company over the years. His cows, how he raises them and his method to making the ghee is truly different and is evident in the flavor. I’ve heard a similar response from many people who have given it a try.
Along with the wonderful Ghee, Nick Van Nordheim also talked about his Brown Butter. Now, I know what you are thinking, and I too was confused at first. This is NOT butter but is actually Ghee as well. People who are lactose intolerant, who have severe allergies to dairy and even many on the paleo diet will not touch it UNTIL I explain to them it is actually ghee. He has recently assured me they are changing the labeling and this will reflect hopefully this year on his website. You have my word, and his, that this is still a dairy-free product!
After visiting his farm in Sonoma, he has let me in on what it is that sets him and his ghee apart from others, and it really does come down to his farm and cows. All the butter that he uses comes from one small family farm in Petaluma, CA that specializes in raising only ONE breed of cow- -the Jersey Cow. This special breed comes from the island of Jersey located off the coast of Normandy in France, but it is considered part of the United Kingdom. Jersey’s are considered a “heritage” breed and were not typically used in commercial production of milk. They were typically reserved for a family milking cow due to the extremely high quality of the milk specifically related to the fat content it produces- 12%! In comparison, the Holstein cow, the black and white one typically associated with cows, produces around 3-4% fat content, yet produces twice the volume of milk that you would get from the Jersey. This high fat content produces wonderfully rich, creamy, and decadent milk and lends itself to butter production.
The properties that he raises the cows on are located in the Springhill Valley in Petaluma, as well as another property in Tomales, CA. The cows are Certified Organic and are fed a pure diet of grass that is grown on their own properties. Nick made a point in stating, “We do not feed them any corn, grain, or soy and are never slaughtered for meat. The herd is a ‘closed’ herd, meaning there is no inclusion of other breeds and the milk only comes from the Jersey cow.” Oftentimes you will have “mixed” herds which include breeds like the Jersey with mostly Holstein cows; this allows for a slightly higher fat content while maintaining a high yield of milk. He claimed that they “have always raised the pure, single-herd Jersey cow and have no intention of doing it any other way”!
I thought it would be fun to do a little Q & A to get an even closer look and see why Full Circle Ghee is so great and tasty! Here are some of the questions that Nick answered for us!
Q: How is your butter prepared? Why do you need to culture the butter if it is not raw?
A: The butter is made from the cream of the Jersey cows that has been vat- pasteurized, allowing for the cleanliness of the milk to exist. Although the butter is not raw, we do culture the butter before it is churned. The culturing process adds enzymatic activity back into cream that is lost during the pasteurization, and really adds some depth and character to the butter so it doesn’t taste just like a single flat cream flavor.
Q: What does the ghee making process entail?
A: To make the ghee, we start with organic, cultured butter and in stainless steel pots we cook the ghee down to remove the impurities: moisture and milk. The way I choose to make the ghee is at a low temperature for several hours; this ensures that nutrient value of the ghee is intact, avoiding the scalding/burning of the milk, and producing the wonderful caramel and nutty notes that make my product stand out. Often, ghee is made too quickly which contributes acrid and plastic like flavors that are undesirable for the palate, and I’ve found is one of the factors that turn people away from ghee when they try it for the first time. The low and slow cooking process also ensures that all the water has been evaporated in addition to all of the milk being broken down to levels that don’t affect people with milk sensitivities. That is why my ghee is shelf- stable at room temperature for up to a year and has a smoking point of 485 degrees.
Q: I have heard of an “infused ghee” … what is the difference with that one?
A: As for the Infused ghee I make, I start with the plain ghee that has been fully clarified through the process above. This ghee is then added to a mixture of aromatics (onions, garlic, and ginger) with the addition of herbs and spices. These contribute to the flavors that are found in the flavored ghee I’ve made. These are all my own recipes that are blended by hand and are never from pre-made mixes. Also, none of the ghee is made using machines- every jar is started and finished by hand. I do believe that care, compassion, and gratitude are essential for making the best quality of ghee.
Q: Where can I get some of this ghee?!
A: We sell all of the jars for $15 for 8oz and do ship out anywhere in the US for a small fee. Unfortunately, the site is still being built- partially the reason I needed to come to our farm here in Northern California was for the massive number of pictures I would love to have on the site and use for content on social media accounts. I do take website orders at www.fullcircleghee.com If the online shopping is not your thing, and you live in California, I do sell at numerous farmer’s markets throughout this state. We have our products in local farmer’s markets in San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside County, as well as a few in the Tahoe area.
Thank you all for following along with part 1 of a 2-part interview series! Also, a huge thank you to Nick for taking time out of your day to share about your ghee! I hope you all give it a try, and you will see just how great it is and how easy it is to use in your favorite paleo recipes!
If you have any questions or suggestions just email me at Tina (at) Paleomazing.com.