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Fermented Milk Products from All Over the World. Calpis (Japan)


If you ever visit Japan, you will see a rather awkward beverage called Calpis, in a container decorated with polka dots. Well, the beverage is made out of milk or powdered milk, according to the case, water, and lactic acid bacteria. It has a slightly sour taste and it was made entirely to quench people’s thirst. It is usually mixed with water in order to create a drink that is very refreshing, especially when the temperature outside is elevated. You can also find readily diluted, in the form of Calpis Water, if you want to enjoy it on the spot, or Calpis Soda, which is slightly more carbonated, if you’re looking for a fizzy drink. Although there are ways to make Calpis at home, there is a company that bottles and sells this drink in Japan for almost 100 years already.

How did this beverage come to life? It is said that the founder of Calpis Co, the manufacturing company, discovered a refreshing beverage while traveling around Mongolia, back in 1908. Tired and with his physical strengths drained after a long journey, the man was served a whitish and sour beverage by the locals, which they usually consumed to feel refreshed and have their physical powers restored. After consuming the beverage, the Calpis founder noticed that he did feel better, deciding to bring this beverage to Japan as well, upon his return. Thus, starting with 1919, Calpis has been made and sold all over Japan, still being one of the most popular beverages in the country. You can find it plain and simple, on in various fruity flavors, so all you need to do is pick the one that suits your tastes better. During summer, Japanese people love having their glass of Calpis served with ice cubes or shaved ice, in the form of a cooling and refreshing dessert, topped with syrup. And, believe it or not, Calpis is even served with alcohol, like wine or traditional rice alcohol.

The manufacturing company promotes it not just as a refreshing drink, but also as a health supplement. Calpis is rich in calcium and good bacteria, which aids digestion, improves the immune system, protects the intestinal flora, and promotes healthier and stronger bones. It is also possible to find Calpis sold in other countries as well but under the name of Calpico. Calpis or Calpico is one and the same beverage based on milk, as just the name was changed in order to sound better in another language.

As mentioned earlier, it is possible to make Calpis at home as well, just in case you don’t have any chances of getting your own bottle of Calpis. You will need 450 grams of yogurt, 400 grams of sugar, 2 tablespoons of citric acid or 140 milliliters of fresh lemon juice, and one tablespoon of vanilla essence. From these quantities, you will be able to obtain somewhere between 15 and 20 glasses of Calpis. Put the yogurt and sugar in a container, and place the container over a pot of simmering water, and mix them up with a whisk until you obtain a homogenous and smooth product. Continue stirring the composition for another 15 minutes or until it reaches a temperature between 70 and 80 degrees Celsius. Just make sure not to boil it. Now you will have to remove the product from the heat and allow it to cool at room temperature. Once the mixture is no longer hot, add the citric acid or lemon juice and vanilla extract, and mix well. Store the mixture in the fridge. When you wish to server Calpis, you will have to dilute one part of the product with 4 parts of water, sparkling water, or soda water, according to your preference and serve it with ice, if you like it cold.

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