[Sca-cooks] Kumiss stuff for Lilinah - warning, even longer rambling response

Saint Phlip phlip at 99main.com
Mon Oct 27 05:55:43 PDT 2008


I recently tried an (inadvertant) experiment with milk fermentation.
Lately, I've been getting preserves, placing them in the bottom of a
sealed container, and covering them with whole milk yogurt. This
(usually) makes a nice, fruit flavored yogurt, wherein the ingredients
are put together by my choice, rather than whatever the commercial
manufacturers think might sell well.

I had one container that didn't get eaten for some reason- found it at
the back of my fridge a couple months later. I opened it, it looked
OK, and tasted it.

It had a strong fermented taste, very acidic, and was rather
carbonated. And, it didn't make me sick, or have any of the symptoms
of food poisoning. It also felt to me that it was mildly alcoholic.

Having read through your ramblings, Drakey, I'm wondering if the
making of kumiss might be a relatively simple 2 step process, in the
field, so to speak. Starting with the mares milk, one would make a
yogurt which would be fairly constantly agitated as might happen when
hauling a bag of milk around on horseback. Then, the addition of an
appropriate fruit, to provide the yeasts which would lead to the sugar
fermentation, thus providing one with Kumiss. Would seem to me, that
that would be the basis of your more scientific messing about with
specific yeasts.


Gunther, I'm deliberately leaving Drakey's post attached to mine, so
people wanting to look over the steps can reference things easily
without having to flip back and forth through emails.

On Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 7:18 AM, Craig Jones <drakey at internode.on.net> wrote:
> Warning Long Post...
> Posted Dec 2003 - I probably know a bit more since then :)
> ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
> Drake here...
> Greetings Brewers,
>>I have just arranged for some mares milk to be collected for me from
> my
>>uncles horse stud.
> I am supremely jealous…
>>Now before a selection of milk iceblocks turn up at my door I require
>>some advice on how to turn it into
>>something drinkable.
> That's not so easy…
>>What yeast have people used in the past?
>>How long does it brew for?
>>How long before you drink it?
>>How long before it goes off?
>>And anything else you might think is important to know before
> attempting.
> I can offer my experiences in the past, taking cows milk and
> adjusting protein/fat/sugar levels but I get the feeling from my
> readings lately that my previous experiments are complete sh*te and
> you probably need to do your own research…
> According to Joyce Toomre (Koumiss in Mongol Culture: Past and
> present), koumiss nowadays is prepared with 2 starter cultures,
> Streptococcus lactis and Lactobacillus bulgaricus… (both cultures
> should be available from cheese making supply companies) I suspect
> that a yeast should be involved somewhere but the article does not
> mention that. The Lactobacillus bulgaricus also produces
> acetaldehyde (yum!) which is apparently important for the final
> flavour.
> Streptococcus lactis produces quantities of lactic acid, partially
> hydrolyses milk proteins, and increases digestibility of milk. It
> also produces chemicals (bacteriolysins) that inhibits other harmful
> micro-organisms.
> Lactobacillus bulgaricus has been used to culture yoghurt in Eastern
> Europe for a very long time and it's no surprise to see it in Kumiss
> cultures... It has similar properties to Streptococcus lactis.
> Lactobacillus bulgaricus is used in low fat and fat free yogurt,
> while Streptococcus lactis is found in cottage cheese, buttermilk.
> Sour cream and such... They produce lactase to convert lactose into
> galactose and glucose. I assume that they then metabolize the
> glucose, produce lactic acid (giving that sour taste) as a waste
> product.
> Horse milk would work great for kumiss because it is VERY high in
> lactose giving lots of available glucose...
> If you want to culture these babies up yourself (GOOD Luck - your
> PHD's in the post), try
> http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/mar97/853531367.Mi.r.html
> A possible candidate for a micro-organism to produce the alcohol is
> Zygosaccharomyces florentinus, often found in Kefir cultures, is a
> wild yeast that is big infector of fruit orchards and vineyards. It
> has the same effect as a normal yeast (var sugars -> alcohol) but has
> a high alcohol tolerance. You could probably substitute a commercial
> brewing yeast with high alcohol tolerance (such as champagne yeast)
> As Kefir cultures often contain some/all of the following:
> Streptococcus lactis, Streptococcus cremoris, Streptococcus
> diacelilactis, Leuconostoc cremoris, Lactobacillus plantarum
> Lactobacillus casei, Saccharomyces florentinus; it might be a good
> start for brewing a batch of Kumiss. Kefir cultures are commonly
> available if you know where to look.
> Another Kefir page is: http://users.chariot.net.au/~dna/kefirpage.html
> His culture list is EVEN longer but contains Saccharomyces cerevisiae
> (and well all know what that is? Right?
> I used to believe that just yeast would do it but yeast has a
> notorious inability to metabolize lactose. You need some other
> culture or an intermediate culture that changes the sugars from
> lactose to another sugar (probably Glucose).
> Reading again from this article (it's the 1st one in the Bib below)
> it mentions 2-2.5% protein, 1-2% fat, 3.5-4.8% milk sugar, 06-1.2%
> lactic acid and 1.0-3.0% alcohol.
> To summarise: Kumiss requires yeast to produce the alcohol and some
> beneficial bacteria to convert the lactose into glucose for the yeast.
> To do a quick redaction, I'd:
> * Add Culture (Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Streptococcus lactis,
> Saccharomyces cerevisiae) to room tempature Mare's Milk.
> * Ferment. If you didn't have a proper goatskin bag use a cask wine
> bladder with a rubber bung/airlock fitted. Shake/beat regularly.
> * Serve with appropriate food (ask Drake for recipes)
> Note: Choose guests (victims) carefully. Try those who aren't
> squeemish about their food and drink...
> Note, most of this info on cultures has come from about a hours
> websurfing at midnight, so dont take it as gospel...
> Does the brain hurt yet? Mine does... Ok. Now onto easier stuff?
> There are variants made from donkey, cow (Kefir), and camel (shubat)
> milk. A distilled version called arkhi was known but not before the
> 13-14th century at the very earliest.
> The best descriptions of Kumiss in period we have are of the journals
> to China by Friar William of Rubruck (before Marco Polo too). His
> complete journal is available on the web (URL available on request).
> A section that refers to Kumiss is:
> "they stretch above the ground a long rope between two stakes stuck
> in the soil; and ... tether to the rope the foals of the mares they
> intend to milk. Then the mares stand beside their foals and let
> themselves be milked peacefully. In the event of any of them proving
> intractable, one man takes the foal and puts it underneath her to let
> it suck a little, and then withdraws it while the milker takes its
> place. So having collected a great quantity of milk, which when fresh
> is as sweet as cow's milk, they pour it into a large skin or bag
> [bucellum], and set about churning it with a club which is made for
> this purpose, as thick at the lower end as a man's head and hollowed
> out. As they stir it rapidly, it begins to bubble like new wine and
> to turn sour or ferment, and they keep churning it until they extract
> the butter."
> Here's more:
> Selections from the Tarikh-i-Rashidi by Mirza Muhammad Haidar, Dughlat
> (1546-47)
> V. [On the medicinal powers of kumys (fermented mare's milk).]
> At this time a certain Ahmad Mirza, one of the Timuri Mirzas of the
> line of Mirza Shah Rukh, having fled [from his own country] had come
> [to Moghuhstan]. He had [with him] a sister, for whom Amir Sayyid Ali
> conceived a great affection; so much so that Amir Khudaidad and
> others begged her to become Amir Sayyid Ali's wife. She, however,
> refused, saying: "I cannot stay in Moghulistan, but if he will
> accompany me to my own country, it can be arranged." She then
> immediately set out for her own country, accompanied by Amir Sayyid
> Ali. When she arrived at Andijan) Mirza Ulugh Beg dispatched a man to
> kill Ahmad Mirza, and himself married his sister, at the same time
> throwing Amir Sayyid Ali into prison at Samarkand, where he remained
> one year. Here he fell sick of dysentery, and when on the point of
> dying, Amir Ulugh Beg sent for the doctors, whose remedies, however,
> were all without effect. One day somebody brought some kumiz. The
> Mirza implored the doctors, saying: "As the medicines have done me no
> good, I should much like to try a little kumiz, for which I have a
> great craving." They at last agreed [to grant his request] as a
> desperate experiment, saying: "It will very likely give him
> strength." They then gave him as much kumiz as he wanted, and from
> that moment he began to show signs of recovery. On the following day
> they gave him some more, and he became perfectly well.
> [Sayyid Ali eventually made his way back home, where he became
> involved in the ultimately successful rebellion by which Vais Khan,
> with Timurid support, seized the throne.] [Ü ]
> There is evidence (I have to look more for the references) for a
> great silver drinking fountain in Ogedei Khan's (Genghis' 3rd son who
> succeeded him) palace at Karakorum:
> In the southern section of the main hall was a silver tree-fountain,
> crowned with a silver figure of a man blowing a trumpet. At festival
> times, a beautiful sound would be heard as four kinds of delicious
> drink poured from four dragons' heads facing in four directions from
> the trunk of the tree, and flowed down into silver vessels placed
> there to receive them.
> It dispensed at various times: Rice or Millet Beer, Boal (a kind of
> mead), Kumiss, Qaracosmos (another kind of kumiss), terracina (rice
> wine) and wine. What's interesting is that Ogedei Khan died from
> alcoholism. The fountain was built by an goldsmith, William of Paris.
> Just found the original here in William Rubruck's Journal:
> [The Khan's palace at Karakorum]
> Mangu had at Caracarum a great palace, situated next to the city
> walls, enclosed within a high wall like those which enclose monks'
> priories among us. Here is a great palace, where he has his drinkings
> twice a year: once about Easter, when he passes there, and once in
> summer, when he goes back (westward). And the latter is the greater
> (feast), for then come to his court all the nobles, even though
> distant two months journey; and then he makes them largess of robes
> and presents, and shows his great glory. There are there many
> buildings as long as barns, in which are stored his provisions and
> his treasures. In the entry of this great palace, it being unseemly
> to bring in there skins of milk and other drinks, master William the
> Parisian had made for him a great silver tree, and at its roots are
> four lions of silver, each with a conduit through it, and all
> belching forth white milk of mares. And four conduits are led inside
> the tree to its tops, which are bent downward, and on each of these
> is also a gilded serpent, whose tail twines round the tree. And from
> one of these pipes flows wine, from another cara cosmos, or clarified
> mare's milk, from another bal, a drink made with honey, and from
> another rice mead, which is called terracina; and for each liquor
> there is a special silver bowl at the foot of the tree to receive it.
> Between these four conduits in the top, he made an angel holding a
> trumpet, and underneath the tree he made a vault in which a man can
> be hid. And pipes go up through the heart of the tree to the angel.
> In the first place he made bellows, but they did not give enough
> wind. Outside the palace is a cellar in which the liquors are stored,
> and there are servants all ready to pour them out when they hear the
> angel trumpeting. And there are branches of silver on the tree, and
> leaves and fruit. When then drink is wanted, the head butler cries to
> the angel to blow his trumpet. Then he who is concealed in the vault,
> hearing this blows with all his might in the pipe leading to the
> angel, and the angel places the trumpet to his mouth, and blows the
> trumpet right loudly. Then the servants who are in the cellar,
> hearing this, pour the different liquors into the proper conduits,
> and the conduits lead them down into the bowls prepared for that, and
> then the butlers draw it and carry it to the palace to the men and
> women.
> Ok. Now for some references:
> The first reference I'd recommend is:
> (1994) Milk and Milk Products from Medieval to Modern Times -
> Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Ethnological Food
> Research - Edited by Patricia Lysaught. It contains an
> article: "Koumiss in Mongol Culture: Past and present" by Joyce S.
> Toomre.
> There is also a GREAT website which contains many period texts of
> travellers to Mongolia and are available here:
> http://depts.washington.edu/uwch/silkroad/texts/texts.html
> Great stuff here on central Asian milk stuff:
> http://depts.washington.edu/uwch/silkroad/culture/food/food.html
> The main Mongolian Cookbook (Yin Shan Cheng Yao) is actually
> completely devoid of references to milk products. Theories here is
> that they were 'too mundane' to be mentioned, considered to have no
> medicinal qualities at that time/place and thus omitted (unlikely) or
> that milk products weren't available in that time/place
> (1456/Capital) and were omitted. Perhaps it was because the author
> was Chinese. The recipes themselves record the intrusion of alien
> (and some believe unsophisticated) Mongol cookery based on mutton
> into Chinese cuisine. It was written by Hu Szu-Hui, who probably
> came from a bilingual Chinese-Turkic family in northwest China and
> who served as imperial dietary physician to several short-lived
> descendents of Qubilai Qan in the early 1300s.
> I know it probably doesn't help but I'd thought I'd let you know that
> I'm even more in the dark about Kumiss than I used to be!
> Sorry for the huge ramble, I hope some have found it vaguely
> interesting... Should I write this into an article for the next BVI
> newsletter?
> Cheers,
> Drake.

Saint Phlip

Heat it up
Hit it hard
Repent as necessary.


It's the smith who makes the tools, not the tools which make the smith.

.I never wanted to see anybody die, but there are a few obituary
notices I have read with pleasure. -Clarence Darrow

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