Mongolian tour guide
top of page
  • Writer's pictureEnza Tours LLC

Short information about Mongolian dairy products

Historical and ethnographic accounts show that Mongolian dairy products have generally been processed in identical ways from the 13th century to today, although the terminology differs somewhat from region to region. Mongols milk all five of the animals, but they tend to put the milk into different uses.

Mares milk - Airag

Thus, mare’s milk is generally fermented into KOUMISS, sheep and goat’s milk is mostly used in TEA or cheeses, while cow’s Milk is used for all three purposes. Zöökhii, or cream, is one of the simplest dairy products to make, being produced by letting the milk curdle in a warm place for six to eight hours and skimming the cream off the top.

Horse Milk

This cream is strained and churned to form “white oil” (tsagaan tos), which is then gently melted to separate the “yellow oil” (shar tos), or clarified butter.

White oil - Tsagaan tos

The residue from the separation of “white oil” is tsötsgii, a delicious cream was eaten in recent times mixed with cane sugar and fried millet. Once the cream is skimmed off, the rest of the milk may be poured into a kettle over a gentle flame until it separates into curds and “yellow milk” (sharasü). The yellow milk is boiled and then mixed with culture and allowed to ferment, forming chagaa.

The chagaa is then placed in sacks and the liquid squeezed out with weight, forming a semisolid aarts. Dried in the sun, aarts becomes khuruud, a kind of rockhard cheese. This cultured cheese can be preserved indefinitely and was part of the regular rations of soldiers on campaigns. It is reconstituted for eating by placing it in hot water.