The essential oil
Locally made ghee is food for the body and soul
Out of all the oils fit for human consumption, ghee is the best to eat— Charaka Samhita, ancient Ayurvedic text
As Indya Gage—the charming owner and creator of Mama Sattva Ghee—describes it, ghee is “lactose-free clarified butter—just the oil part of the butter.”
Shoppers at the Saturday downtown farmers’ market are no doubt familiar with Gage’s booth situated at the eastern end of the market (her ghee is also available at Chico Natural Foods, S&S Produce and Natural Foods, The Galley, Holiday Foods in Paradise, and four other stores in the North State).
“Traditionally, the ancients used ghee as a very sacred oil for medicinal reasons, for healing,” said Gage in a recent interview. “It’s been used for thousands of years in India and Tibet as a healing oil. It enhances all the ojas, a Sanskrit word for ‘energies.’”
Ghee is created by a slow, careful process of cooking butter in a pot until it turns into a transparent golden liquid (Gage keeps the temperature “extremely low”—112 degrees—to keep “all of the enzymes intact and the antioxidants together”), before being filtered and cooled to harden.
Where it differs from clarified butter is that it is often cooked and reduced even longer. “If done correctly, [the ghee] will never go bad,” Gage said. “It has an endless shelf life, because all of the lactose, casein and water have been completely removed. It is just the oil part of the butter that remains. Because the lactose is completely removed, this allows us to age it.” And “the longer it ages, the more medicinal it becomes. … Like a fine wine, ghee becomes better with age.” Ghee also contains many essential fatty acids, said Gage, “that when aged become more potent.” Gage ages Mama Sattva Ghee for a minimum of 30 days, in glass containers kept in a dark place at 75 degrees. She says she will be offering a one-year-aged batch of ghee in late summer (at her farmers’ market booth only).
Gage—a former massage therapist who has studied Chinese medicine and Ayurveda—began making ghee in 2002 as a meditation practice.
“I read that it was a purifying practice for the mind to make ghee and it was also really good for you to eat. Once I started making it, I realized how good it was for benefiting the mind and increasing digestion.
“I got a lot clearer in my mind. My memory got better,” said Gage of her early experiences eating ghee, which combines the culinary uses of both butter and cooking oil, due to its flavorfulness and high flash point (485° F). “I was doing desk work at the time, where I proofread 200 pages of manuscripts—really boring insurance manuscripts—every day,” a task that she says became easier to do after eating ghee regularly, “and I got a lot healthier and happier,” she said. In addition to having better digestion, Gage says she felt more energized in general.
Gage began selling her Mama Sattva brand of ghee—which is made from organic, cultured butter from Sierra Nevada Cheese Co. in Willows—at the farmers’ market in June 2012, and shortly afterward her products went onto the shelves of local stores. “My goal is to have [Mama Sattva Ghee] in 21 stores by the end of the year,” she offered.
Gage recounted a recent conversation she had at her market booth with one of her many regular customers: “One little old guy came up and said, ‘Do you have people report miraculous healings after eating your ghee?’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s what I hope for, but not really, not yet.’ And he said, ‘Well, I have had a lot of medical problems and health issues,’ and he said, ‘But since I’ve been eating your ghee, it seems like most of them have gone away.’”