Market Quality of Ghee and Regional Preferences

The organoleptic quality and physico-chemical properties of ghee offered for sale in the market are referred to as its market quality. The organoleptic quality includes colour, flavour and body and texture of ghee and is the index of consumers’ acceptability and the market sale including price. The physico-chemical constants are the legal requirements (PFA rules) and are mandatory as far as marketing of ghee is concerned. The physico-chemical constants are affected by many factors and have been discussed in the unit 7. The desirable marketable attributes of good quality ghee are discussed here.


i. Colour

The colour of cow ghee varies from deep yellow to straw yellow while that of buffalo is white with a characteristic greenish tinge. Yellow colour of cow ghee is attributed to carotene, which is affected by many factors. The greenish tinge in buffalo ghee is attributable to bilirubin and biliverdin.


ii. Flavour

Ghee is greatly valued in our country for its characteristic flavour, which varies from region to region. It is mainly dependent on method of preparation. The flavour of butterfat, as observed in case of fresh butter oil is termed as bland. The typical ghee flavour may be due to a combination of diacetyl, carbonyls, free fatty acids,lactones, alcohols and other compounds generated due to fermentation and/or heating.

The more pleasant flavour of ghee preferred by majority of Indian buyers is that produced by desi method. The flavour of ghee produced by all other methods is comparatively bland or cooked and less preferred in comparison to desi ghee.


iii. Granulation

The texture of ghee is an important quality attribute as far as consumer acceptability is concerned. Good quality ghee should have medium sized grains uniformly distributed throughout the lot. Granularity in ghee is considered by the average Indian buyer to be an index of purity in addition to the quality. Since butterfat is a mixture of triglycerides containing several types of fatty acids, the crystallization behaviour of ghee is very complex. There are several factors that contribute to the crystallization of butterfat and consequently to the grain formation of ghee. Proper control of these result in producing desirable texture in ghee.


Factors affecting granularity in ghee

Inherent factors: These include the type of milk, feeds and fodders, season, region,etc. The presence of larger proportion of higher melting saturated fatty acids,especially palmitic and stearic results into large size grains, whereas low melting fatty acids and unsaturated fats either produce very small grains or no grains in ghee. All those factors that change the fatty acids profile in milk affect the granulation in ghee. Size of grains in buffalo ghee is larger (0.31 mm) than that of cow (0.24 mm) mainly because of higher proportion of long chain saturated fatty acids in the former. Feeding more of green fodder or on pasture produce higher amount of soft fats, whereas, feeding higher amount of dry feeds and cottonseeds impart bigger sized hard grains/crystals in ghee.

Temperature of clarification: Higher temperature of clarification gives better grain size as well as more number of grains.
Method of preparation: The desi method produces ghee with larger size uniform grains in comparison with industrial methods wherein creamery butter is used as a raw material.

Rate of cooling: It has been observed that heating ghee to 60-100oC, followed by rapid cooling yields small grains in ghee. However, if ghee is gradually cooled to a temperature at about 1oC above the crystallization point of ghee (cow ghee 29oC and buffalo ghee 31oC), bigger size grains are produced.Storage temperature: Fluctuation in storage temperature deteriorates the grain distribution in ghee. Size and quality of grains in better at 28oC than at storage temperature of higher than 35oC.

Seeding: Seeding of ghee with grains of previous batch (1-2%) act as nuclei and develop desirable grains in ghee. The grains shape in this process is needle like as compared to that of spherical found in normal grains formation (without seeding) process.


iv. Regional Preferences for Ghee

Though ghee is consumed in all parts of India, the preference of consumers in different regions, in terms of flavour and texture, are not similar. These preferences are shown below in Table

Regional preference for ghee flavour and texture
Regional preference for ghee flavour and texture

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