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Airag- fermented mares milk

Updated: May 15, 2020

Airag is prescribed on the intangible cultural heritage of UNESCO on December 11, 2019. It is a drink made from mare’s fermented milk. Some regions in Mongolia make it out of cow’s milk as well. This mare’s fermented milk contains many vitamins, so it can be used in food and medicine. It is rich in globulin, a simple protein that increases the physical resistance of humans and animals, albumin, a metabolic stimulant, protein compounds involved in the production of cellular enzymes, and all kinds of amino acids. Also, it contains 20 g of fat, 23 g of protein 35 g energy which comes from sugar which helps to improve the energy of muscles, tendons, and blood vessels of the whole body by providing heat to the human body. Airag regulates the internal functions of the body, such as the cardiovascular and central nervous systems, regulates blood circulation, digestion, and very useful for people with tuberculosis, dehydration, and various intestinal diseases.

But the people who have an allergy should drink under the doctor’s advice. Mongolians have been drinking Airag for 2000 years. It has a unique method of fermenting for many generations. Only the families who have horses and mares know the secret. The mares can be milked from the end of June until the middle of September when the pasture green and milk is plentiful. During this time mares are milked 6-8 times a day, it is also to prevent the foal from thirsting in the summer heat, and in the evenings when the sun sets mares are grazed. Airag produces 2-3% alcohol fermentation along with lactic acid fermentation. In addition, Airag makes fizzy foamy noise with a pleasant odor which is due to the spontaneous formation of carbon dioxide. The color is similar to translucent white wine.

Making Airag is a special symbol of Mongolia that is a symbol as well as part of  Mongolian culture and customs. Mongolians choose an auspicious day to start and stop milking the mares. Mongolians do drink a lot of Airag and also it is the main drink in ceremonies and events, such as weddings and Naadam festivals.

Families and friends are playfully fighting with a singing game similar to stone scissors cloth. The one who lost must drink the whole big bowl of Airag as a punishment. Airag is not just about having fun and drinking, it's about living in harmony and optimism in our culture and lifestyle. Many tourists visit Mongolia to taste the Airag.

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