hist-brewing: Kumiss by ya

DEPiLLsb42 at aol.com DEPiLLsb42 at aol.com
Thu Dec 30 09:24:39 PST 1999

Zemetrius at aol.com writes:

> has anyone made any kumiss? i would be very interested in discussing this  with subject.

I've never made it intentionally. (leaving a quart of milk in the car over a hot weekend doesn't count) but there are a lot more recipes out there than I would have thought. It seems distilled fermented mare's milk is araka. (http://www.amug.org/~blinn/micros_p3.html)

Stephan's Florigium, of course, has a bunch of recipes and discussion.

<<From: habura at vccnw13.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)
Subject: Re: Kumiss: thanks for info.
Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Date: Thu, 1 Apr 1993 13:40:08 GMT 
Yeasts and Milk: The organism that ferments lactose isn't yeast; it's a bacterium, generally genus Lactobacillus. Yeats can ferment other sugars, like sucrose and glucose. 
To deal with this, you might want to consider picking up one of the following: 
Lactase supplements. These are common in drugstores; they're sold for the use of lactose-intolerant individuals (like yours truly). These will break the lactose down into yeast-fermentable sugars. Don't heat them above body temperature; they're enzymes and heat-labile. 
Yogurt with active culture. Try an organic food store for this. These can be used as a starter culture to make a dilute yogurt sort of thing. I don't think it would be alcoholic, but you might use it in conjunction with sugar and yeast to get a thick, mildly alcoholic glop. 
Rennin. This is found in the stomachs of pigs, and might be the "magic ingredient" for real kumiss. It's commercially used for production of some cheeses. They now have bacteria that produce it, too, so the price isn't that bad. Try a dairy or a scientific supply house, like Sigma. 
I would not recommend using the Lactobacillus acidophilus-supplemented milks as a starter culture. Given enough time, these organisms produce a hideous-tasting fermentation product; I imagine they would produce a kumiss with all the taste appeal of toxic waste. 
Andrea Habura
(who is usually Alison MacDermot around here, but Alison doesn't know diddly about microbiology, and Andrea does. In this post, I'm using the word "fermentation" to indicate "any non-aerobic process by which organisms derive energy".) 
From: corun at access.digex.com (Corun MacAnndra)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Kumiss: thanks for info.
Date: 1 Apr 1993 10:38:53 -0500
Organization: Express Access Online Communications, Greenbelt, MD USA 
I've been waiting until I could talk to one of my Brothers about how he made kumiss before posting this as I've never done it. Todric's recipe is as follows; 
Take skim milk (or regular milk, but watered down). Add lactose to this. Mare's milk is much higher in lactose than cow's milk. Then use bread yeast, not brewer's yeast, as a starter. This apparently has the desired effect of producing the alchohol out of the lactose. Mix this in one of those plastic water carriers (the five gallon ones with the handle and spout), and hang it up so you can shake it vigorously from time to time. This prevents the kumiss from turning to yoghurt. The spout can also be opened periodically to burp it and release the pressure (or you end up with kumiss mines exploding in camp). 
I have been told that the kumiss bag was hung up just inside the yurt door so that it could be shook by people going to and from the yurt, thereby imparting a little of their energy into the drink as well. Before the kumiss was drunk, a little was spilled on the ground as an offering to the Tengri. To the best of my knowledge, this tradition is still practiced today. 
In the exhibit that came to the Smithsonian a few years ago from Russia, entitled Nomads of the Eurasian Steppe, the were many kumiss implements, including ladles and stirring spoons, as well as leather bags and pitchers. Some of the ladles were highly decorated, and one pitcher seemed to be made of a long necked gourd that was decorated with very intricate geometric patterns of red and black. I usually bring to Pennsic the photos that I was allowed by the Russians to take of this exhibit. Anyone interested in seeing these (some really nice costume and jewelry shots too) may come to Moritu camp at Pennsic and ask for me. My yurt is modelled on the one that was in this exhibit. The Russians invited me back after the exhibit closed to take measurements and photos of the inside, since no one was allowed in it during the exhibit. A marvelous chance at research. 
In service,

Corun MacAnndra | Nothing's perfect.
Dark Horde by birth | I've seen it, and it is.
Moritu by choice | T. Koenig 
From: corun at access.digex.com (Corun MacAnndra)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Kumiss question
Date: 3 Apr 1993 11:49:27 -0500
Organization: Express Access Online Communications, Greenbelt, MD USA 
In article <2APR199311513494 at rosie.uh.edu> st1xe at rosie.uh.edu (Brown, Derek S) writes: >Though I have never made kumiss, I am thinking of doing so and have a question.
>I don't know where to get mare's milk. I have seen the use of skim milk
>here on the Rialto but wonder is anyone has ever tried goat's milk instead.
>It can be gotten from most health food stores and has almost no lactose in
>it, which is why lactose intolerant people can drink it. Any ideas? 
THe only place I know to get mare's milk is to find someone who raises horses and talk them into milking a mare or two during foaling season. They will probably look askance at you for making such a request, since milking horses is not (to my knowledge) a very common practice in the U.S. Still, if you tell them it's for medaeval research, they may be more accomodating. 
I have a friend who's family raises Shires, the biggest horse in existence, but she has yet to talk her father into milking one of them. This is a daunting task on even as horse a small as the ones common to the steppe, and even more so on one as large as a Shire. She once told me of a foal their mare had that stood nearly eleven hands at birth. That's a big baby. 
In service,

Corun MacAnndra | Yes, we have no bananas.
Dark Horde by birth | No bananas in Scranton, P A Moritu by choice | H. Chapin 
From: svartorm at netaxs.com (Emil Stecher)
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Re: Morgans/koumiss
Date: 19 Mar 1994 08:52:08 GMT
Organization: Netaxs BBS and shell accounts! 
: : Second, has anyone out there tried/had/made koumiss, the Mongol
: : mare's milk stuff? 
I have never brewed a mare's milk koumis, but long years ago Duke Sir Asbjorn came up with a recipe for what I think of as pseudokoumis, and which was reffered to around Carolingia as Electric Milk or the ol' Moloko.

     The recipe, as best I remember went:
            Add 1 tbsp of honey to 1quart of whole (cow's) milk.
            Boil until the milk skims.
            Add 1/8 tsp fleischman's yeast when the milk had cooled.
            Jug it up and wait a day or two.

The taste was, I seem to recall, like that of a sharp buttermilk. This version is not particularly alcoholic. I liked it. 
Some years ago a gentleman from Ostgard, as I heard the tale, contacted the embassy of the People's republic of Outer Mongolia to the U.N., asked for and received a recipe for koumis. You might try that option. My understanding is that it went something like this:
Take a goat's stomach, fill it with mare's milk, sew it shut. Get several huskies with hardwood staves to beat this for a while, then let it sit until the curds and whey separate. Drain off the whey, mix it with honey, then seal it up again. Go away for a month or two. When you come back, it's koumis time.

                              Hope this helps some,
                                   Barak Raz

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
From: Paul Placeway <pwp at cs.cmu.edu>
Subject: Re: Morgans/koumiss
Organization: School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon
Date: Tue, 22 Mar 1994 05:38:42 GMT 
<: : Second, has anyone out there tried/had/made koumiss, the Mongol <: : mare's milk stuff? 
A number of years ago, a friend of mine (AEldred) figured out a moreor -less safe way to make the stuff. The basic idea is that some cold lagering yeasts will work below the maximum safe temperature to store milk, so after sufficient adjustment you can make the stuff in your fridge. 
I believe the basic idea was to take a bunch of cow's or goat's milk, mix in some kind of sugar (I believe AEldred used lactose; honey may be a good choice because of antibiotic effects), pitch in cold lagering yeast, put the whole mess in a gallon glass jug with water lock, and put it in your fridge. Check the water lock often since most self-defrosting fridges tend to dehydrate things quickly. 
I leave the question of whether one would *want* to make this stuff in one's fridge to the reader. I did sample the result -- kinda like fizzy, slightly alcoholic, not-sweet milk. Odd stuff. 
-- Tofi 
From: HAROLD.FELD at hq.doe.GOV
Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
Subject: Kumiss
Date: 24 Mar 1994 09:17:03 -0500
Organization: The Internet 
Greetings from Yaakov. 

          I love Kumiss (my lady thinks the whole concept is gross
          and, in a fit of prejudice, will not even remain around
          while I am drinking it) and have brewed it a number of
          times.  I usually take a quart of skim milk, three teaspoons
          of sugar, and some champagne yeast (wine yeast works too).

          I brew at room tempature.  Pre-start the yeast with some
          commercial yeast starter before adding it to the milk and
          seal.  This will prevent it from going bad.  The alcohol
          generated will also act as a preservative.  (I have stored
          Kumiss for over a month at room tempature with no

          Note from experience- do not try this with chocolate milk.
          I did once, the chocolate precipitated out and made the
          texture fairly horrid.

          Yaakov (who before marraige used to add kumiss to his
          morning tea, but has given it up in the interests of marital

From: Philip & Susan Troy <troy at asan.com>
Date: Tue, 13 May 1997 18:35:27 -0400
Subject: Re: SC - kvas 
> Yes, I am. It does clear up some of the questions about kvas and I
> almost always like to learn about new things even if not always
> willing to try them. Kvass is a lot higher on my list of things to
> try than Kumiss though. 
I rather liked it myself (kumiss, that is). The most important rule seems to be that if you can't get mare's milk, don't let anyone try to talk you into using goat's or sheep's milk! Otherwise you'll end up with an intriguing Romano cheese wine...nowadays cow's milk is considered an acceptable substitute, apparently. The final product is rather like half whey and half white wine, with about 1% alcohol. 
Date: Wed, 2 Jul 1997 10:27:50 +22300454 (EST)
From: karen at addl.purdue.edu (Karen Stegmeier)
To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: mares milk 
No I don't think you will get busted for unnatural acts by ordering some Mares Milk. Occasionally Vets will have some for orpahn foals but more often they would have frozen colostrum and then use foallac a powdered mares milk replacer, neither of which would be good for doing what I think you are going to be doing. Your best bet is to call your State equestrian association and tell them that you need to locate someone with a nursing mare and see if they will sell you some milk. You won't be able to get a couple of gallons all at once Horses produce small amounts continuously during their lactation rather than being used to only being milked a couple times a day like a cow. There are also Nurse Mare farms, but as I said you need to check with your state eq. association and they can direct you. I don't think I would tell them why you need it, but that is up to you.
Also keep in mind that the anti-parisitic drugs that are given to modern horses ussually say Not for horses intended for food I don't know if this applies to the milk as well, but You will want to be careful not to get milk that was taken the week after the horse was just de-wormed. Some people de-worm monthly, some twice a year or so. I have often said that I want to eventually do an all equine related Arts and Sciences Pentathalon entry, but I think I'll skip the equine related brewing and vintning idea. It is not to my tastes, but best of luck to you! 
-Lady Isabeau Pferdebandiger, Constellation Region, Middle 
Date: Wed, 02 Jul 1997 19:43:02 -0400 (EDT)
From: ALBAN at delphi.com
To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu
Subject: Re: mares milk 
One of the odder book titles that I've run across and that I absolutely have to read some day was along the lines of "Kumiss and Mongolian Ceremonies". . . 
(Further bibliographic information will have to wait for a couple of weeks until I get back from vacation, to my _real_ computer.) 
Date: Fri, 31 Oct 1997 09:11:26 -0600
From: mfgunter at tddeng00.fnts.com (Michael F. Gunter)
Subject: SC - Kumiss 
I got to try kumiss a few weeks ago. As the new Elfsea Defender we were hosted at all of the Cultural Camps on the site. In the Mongol encampment one of the dishes offered was kumiss. I don't know if this was "real kumiss" or an easy-bake variation but I thought it was wonderful. It tasted a bit like vodka mixed with milk. This sounds disgusting but is actually pretty good. The milk smooths and cools the bite of the alcohol while providing that wonderful warm relaxing glow of hard alcohol. Not bad at all actually. 
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 1997 18:46:58 -0400
From: renfrow at skylands.net (Cindy Renfrow)
Subject: Re: SC - Re: sca-cooks V1 #484 
>Conchobar says:
> Ok, I foolishly agreed to make a soup/stew for our event in March.
>Me too! It's the first time I've volunteered for such a thing. The
>title of the event is "Cossaks, Mongols & Huns" and I don't have to stick
>to the theme, but it would be nice. Anyone have an idea what Cossaks,
>Mongols or Huns ate?
Here's a little something for you: 
"He had us asked what we wanted to drink, wine or terracina, which is rice wine (cervisia), or caracosmos, which is clarified mare's milk, or bal, which is honey mead. For in winter they make use of these four kinds of drinks."(From "A Mission to the Great Khan," by William of Rubruck, c. 1253-4, found in Ross, p. 469.) 
1 part mare's milk 1/8 part cow's milk, soured
1/6 part water 
Take of fresh mare's milk, of one day, any quantity; add to it a sixth-part water, and pour the mixture into a wooden vessel; use then, as a ferment, an eighth-part of the sourest cow's milk that can be got; but at any future preparation, a small portion of old koumiss will better answer the purpose of souring. Cover the vessel with a thick cloth, and set it in place of moderate warmth; leave it at rest twenty-four hours; at the end of which time the milk will have become sour, and a thick substance will be gathered on its top; then, with a stick, made at the lower end in the manner of churn staff, beat it till the thick substance above mentioned be blended intimately with the subjacent fluid. In this situation leave it again at rest for twenty-four hours more; after which, pour it into a higher and narrower vessel, resembling a churn, where the agitation must be repeated as before, till the liquor appear to be perfectly homogeneous; and in this state it is called koumiss: of !
which the taste ought to be a pleasant mixture of sweet and sour. Agitation must be employed every time before it is used...
(From The American Economical Housekeeper and Family Receipt Book, by Mrs. Esther Allen Howland, 1850.)
(Excerpted from A Sip Through Time, copyright 1994, Cindy Renfrow.) 
Subject: Re: koumiss
Date: Tue, 10 Mar 1998 13:03:15 EST
From: Bojegei <Bojegei at aol.com>
To: stefan at texas.net 
Hi Stefan, Aislinn Columba (sdale at mail.tqci.net) requested that I send a copy of my Koumiss posting to you for the florilegium. So, in case your interested in posting it, here it is. The source goes on to detail the mongols method of preserving butter for the winter plus a method of making dried milk so they could reconstitute it in the winter when they mares & cows couldn't be milked. If you'd like to post that too let me know and I'll send it to you this weekend. 
It might also be of interest to other vinters due to the description of caracosmos and reference to the lees of wine - this indicates (to me, at least) that as early as the 1250's they were aging wine at least long enough for the yeast (lees) to settle out. I've had some people tell me that they drank wine while it was still fermenting! 
aka Kate Bercaw 
From: bojegei at aol.com (Bojegei)
>John Groseclose wrote:
>> Koumiss is fermented mare's milk. I've tried it... Didn't like it very
>> much, but then there are people for whom Scotch is distasteful.
>Do you perchance have a recipe? My cheesemaking husband would love to
>find one...
The following is an excerpt from _The Journey of William of Rubruck_ who was sent to the court of Mongu Khan. He started the journey in 1253 and the narrative was written upon his return. 
"Cosmos, that is mare's milk, is made in this way: they stretch along the ground a long rope attached to two stakes stuck into the earth and at about nine o'clock they tie to this rope the foals of the mares they want to milk. Then the mothers stand near their foals and let themselves be peacefully milked; if any one of them is too restless, then a man takes the foal and, placing it under her lets it suck a little, and he takes it away again and the milker takes its place. 
And so, when they have collected a great quantity of milk, whish is as sweet as cow's milk when it is fresh, they pour it into a large skin or bag and they begin churning it with a specially made stick which is as big as a man's head at its lower end, and hollowed out; and when they beat it quickly it begins to bubble like new wine and to turn sour and ferment, and they churn it until they can extract the butter. Then they taste it and when it is fairly pungent they drink it. As long as one is drinking, it bites the tongue like vinegar; when one stops, it leaves on the tongue the taste of milk of almonds and greatly delights the inner man; it even intoxicates those who have not a very good head. It also greatly provokes urine. 
For use of the great lords they also make caracosmos, that is black cosmos, in this wise. Mare's milk does not curdle. Now it is a general rule that the milk of any animal, in the stomach of whose young rennet is not found, does not curdle; it is not found in the stomach of a young horse, hence the milk of a mare does not curdle. And so they churn the milk until everyithing that is solid in it sinks right to the bottom like the lees of wine, and what is pure remains on top and is like whey or white must. The dregs are very white and are given to the slaves and have a most soporific effect. The clear liquid the masters drink and it is certainly a very pleasant drink and really potent." >>

here are some more leads:


And, oddly enough, there's a reference to it on Nestle's tips page. Mmmm.... good in cookies. Yum.


Wolfscairn, West
(aka Eleanor Hazleberie aka Acacia Brewer aka Seher Deka al Kashif, aka...)

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