"This is in its very basis the essence of nature," says Dušan M. Z. Badovinac, who is a sound therapist, but also one of the founders of the Institute for Healthy Living, where ghee is manufactured.
Ghee is cooked and refined butter, quality fat that almost no temperature nor time and can touch. ‘It all begins with the cow,’ says Dušan, ‘which functions similarly to a bee: it collects. Under best circumstances we keep them in a pleasant environment, in nature where they feel good, eat grass and herbs that grow from the soil, rich in minerals, they graze on clean air and sun, drinking clean water. The animal accumulates all this, enriches it with its own amino acids during the multiphase digestion, and in the end everything ends up in the milk, which is first made into butter and then into cooked butter. It could be said that we have squeezed the nature into the final product.’ Ghee is thus a distillate of milk and the essence of nature.
What is the difference between refined butter and ghee?
Ghee is cooked butter that is refined during cooking and if it is cooked long enough, it ripens and matures. ‘The difference between raw and cooked butter is in the six substances that cooked butter does not have: water, carbon hydrates, proteins, impurities, casein (casein is the main protein in the milk of ruminants and is difficult to digest) and lactose. Thus, once we put ‘puter’ – in Old Slavic cooked butter was called butter, while raw one was called ‘puter’ – on fire and allow it to cook on low heat, it melts and starts losing all of these substances. The impurities sink to the bottom, making a sediment that the women from the village used to call ‘tropnice’ or ‘žonta’, and which can also be a delicious residue; even an old folk song says: ‘…buttered it with tropnice…’.
Why is refined butter better than raw?
‘The answer lies in the molecular structure,’ explains Dušan. ‘If we took a look at the molecular structure of butter under a microscope, we would realize that an ideal molecular structure is achieved through cooking, one that the mucosa (mouth, gastric, intestinal) perceives differently and transports differently throughout the entire body, placing it onto individual parts of body: through blood to the eyes and joints… Metaphorically speaking, it could be said that if one wants to fit through a slim door, one needs to get thinner (which happens with refined butter) or one will not fit through. Cooking changes the structure of the butter, which then revitalizes the body.’
About perishability and shelf life
‘The six substances that are eliminated through cooking and that we have mentioned above, also spoil dairy products. If the butter is cooked the right way, poured into jars, if everything is all right with the cap, the jar and if there is not a lot of air pocket inside, then such butter, if stored properly, for example wrapped into a cloth and put into a cellar, can be stored for a 100 years. It is also basically imperishable when originally closed and put in a kitchen cupboard, despite the changes in outside temperature. Once it is opened, and if not used often, which could mean that it might oxidizes on the air, it is best to keep it in the refrigerator. Also, aging it means better quality.’
Why is refined butter so healthy for the body?
To start with, ghee is, as far as oils go, the closest to the body, by which I mean the compatibility and 100% efficiency when consumed. ‘Ghee is the main current transmitter of the finest biologically important substances into all bodily tissues. It gives power and slows down the aging process of the tissues. It enhances insemination ability, semen and testicles, while improving voice and throat. Ghee is suitable for children and the elderly, as it gives the body everything that it lacks,’ tells Dušan. ‘The condition, however, is that it has to be made from pure raw material, for only thus can we get a product that is really pure. This product then greases the body well, and by consuming it, the digestive fire is enhanced, which literally revitalizes the intestine and the stomach.’
Ghee easily penetrates cell membranes, thus increasing the efficiency of the spices and herbs that are inside of it (it binds them to itself) and helping with the absorption of not only vitamins and minerals (it contains vitamins A and D, which is like the Sun, and E and K), but also phytonutrients (Non-vitamins, non-mineral components of foodstuff which have important characteristics for optimal well-being. There are thousands of them in the food we eat every day). Ghee very efficiently extracts toxins from the body, which makes it indispensable in Panchakarma, Ayurvediccleansing procedure that lasts several days (Ayurveda is a preventive science about life and nourishment). It is also essential for those who do physical or energy exercises as it lubricates the joints, thus increasing body elasticity. Many use it to coat themselves from head to toe. It is an excellent source of butyric and caprylic acid, and even our grandmothers used to traditionally use it for intestinal problems (e.g. Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, catarrh colon, porous intestine due to food intolerance and the damage caused by lectins or intestinal fungi such as Candida).
How can we make ghee on our own?
Raw butter (if desired in combination with spices such as ginger, ground pepper, cumin) is slowly heated in a pot on low heat until the solid substances (which sink to the bottom of the pan) separate from the golden liquid on the surface. During cooking, white foam accumulates on the surface (those are proteins which can also be used for spreads) which we slowly remove with a wooden spoon. We cook slowly and long enough for all of the water to evaporate and solid particles (‘žonta) turn brown, giving the cooked butter the taste of walnuts and caramel. If cooking at home, we ensure that we have good raw material – pure farm butter. Cooking time depends on how much butter and cream is cooked. If you have 5 kilos of butter, you choose the lowest heat. On wood or heating gas. Each kilo of raw butter means additional 1 hour of cooking, so for 5 kilos somewhere from 6 to 7 hours.
1. Ghee can be consumed as butter, oil, in a spread, as the basis for a cream, etc. The most effective, according to an Ayurvedic doctor, is on an empty stomach, say, 1 to 2 tea spoons in the morning. This is the classics of Tibetan longevity, for it is their everyday to mix a spoon or two with tea. The smoke point (when the molecules begin to break down) is high, even up to 250°C, which makes ghee an ideal fat for frying.
2. If stored properly, ghee does not have shelf life, and gets even better with years; after 50 years of storage, it is supposed to heal all the diseases of this world. In India there are doctors of Ayurveda who are known to have up to 300 years old ghee in their glass cabinets of potions and concoctions. The prices of such ghee are astronomical.
3. Ghee butter becomes even more effective when used as a carrier of certain herbs. The herbs are soaked in the butter which is then heated to different temperatures or even boiling. One spoon of thus prepared butter is then consumed daily. Butter has the ability to balance insufficiencies in the body, while at the same time retaining the nutritional value of milk that it is made from.
4. Ghee is beneficial also in the following examples:
poisonings, rashes, purulent ulcers, burns, herpes, ulcers, fever, pulmonary disorders, schizophrenia. Itsefficiently promotes good appetite. It enhances the ability of understanding, memory and increases life energy (ojas). If consumed with warm milk, it cures constipation. It solves problems of anaemia, blood deficiencies and chronic fever, and eliminates toxins from the body. It does not increase cholesterol like many other fats. It enhances the ability to heal injuries, ulcers in digestive organs and abdominal cramps. In general, it is good for the eyes, nose and skin, which is why it can be used both internally and externally.
5. About cholesterol
Ghee is an antioxidant and contains lipoprotein of high density or HDL (high-density lipoprotein), known also as the ‘good’ cholesterol. It carries LDL or bad cholesterol from tissues and arteries into liver and then removes it from the body in the form of gall. Higher levels of HDL cholesterol in the blood prevent exposure to cardiovascular and coronary problems, as it inhibits the formation of cholesterol tissue in veins. The good cholesterol is also the basis of our hormones: cortisol, serotonin, histamine, melatonin, etc., on which our whole well-being depends, on physical and energy levels.
Contrary to HDL, there is also LDL (low density lipoprotein), the ‘bad cholesterol’ whichnatural ghee does not contain , however, it can be found in full fat dairy products, egg yolk, meat, classical butter, suet, margarine, ointments with oil and fats, etc. LDL speeds up the process of atherosclerosis, which is one of the main risk factors for heart attack, stroke occurrence, etc.