History of Dairy Products: Koumiss

About the dairy product koumiss made from horse milk, how it is made and its uses and benefits as a drink.


Koumiss is another fermented milk product, usually made from mare's milk, which originated in Russia and is still made there today in large quantities. In fact, about 230,000 horses are kept in Russia today expressly for the purpose of providing milk for koumiss. Yeast cultures are added to the milk to start fermentation, and when cow's milk is used, sugar has to be added as well because cow's milk does not contain as much lactose as mare's milk. Koumiss is a milky white liquid, slightly sour and very slightly alcoholic. It is used widely in Russian sanatoriums, where it is apparently effective in the treatment of tuberculosis. As a beverage, it is refreshing and nourishing (mare's milk is comparatively rich in vitamin C), and the slight intoxication produced by drinking quantities of it apparently never has any unpleasant consequences. Poured from glass to glass a few times, it becomes thick like whipped cream, and then tastes even better.

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