Fermented Milk Products From All Over the World • Kımız (Turkic countries)
Kımız is one of the oldest Turkish beverages, which was consumed for the first time, on this territory, by the Huns. What is special about this beverage is that it is made out of mare’s milk, instead of cow’s milk. It is known that mare’s milk has a set of particularities, having a low content of fat and high content of sugar. This means that it will easily ferment and, during this process, will create alcohol. So, yes, kımız is an alcoholic beverage based on milk. But, not all mare’s milk is considered suitable to make kımız. The mares that will provide the milk should be well taken care of. They will be not raised in packs, as it is recommended for them to graze on green pastures so that the quantity of milk is plentiful. Also, only after a mare produced two colts it is considered suitable to provide milk for kımız. Besides all this, the mare will also receive salt, as an additional mineral in its diet, and will be groomed, to promote a great state of wellbeing, plus plenty of fresh water to drink as it pleases.
Back in the days, only the privileged members of the society drank kımız and offering this particular beverage to guests was seen as a sign of great respect. This is believed to be due to the fact that mare’s milk is not as available as cow’s milk. Thus, the quantity of kımız that could be made was limited. A mare can be milk only for a short while after giving birth to its colt. Other reasons are the fact that a large quantity of culture had to be used for one batch of kımız, as one-third of the content should be made out of the culture while the rest represented the milk and the fact that it was very difficult to preserve the culture from one year to the other. It often became unusable if it was dried, as the best method to do it was to keep it as a liquid, in jars that could be sealed. Because of these special containers, which weren’t that available back in the days, only the wealthy people could do this. So, this is how kımız became a drink that reflected the social status of a person.
Kımız has a flavor similar to sweetened yogurt, due to the high content of sugar present in mare’s milk. After the fresh mare’s milk has been cultured, it must be left to ferment in a warm place for the next 24 hours. The next day, twice the initial quantity of fresh milk is added to the mixture, allowing it to ferment for 3 to 4 days more. The fresh milk will ensure sufficient food for the bacteria, which will multiply in the liquid. Then, more fresh milk is added, about one-third of the actual volume of the mixture, and this content is placed in specific leather bags. For the next 12 to 24 hours, the liquid in the leather bags is constantly beaten and shook, so that it will turn out a homogenous beverage in the end.