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The Kid Should See This

Making goats milk aaruul, a traditional nomadic cheese in Mongolia

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In the Selenge Province of northern Mongolia, nomadic mother Pagma and her child work together to catch and milk a few goats from their herd. Paired with a lovely soundtrack, travel channel Artger documents their work.

With the fresh milk, the pair make a nutritious fermented cheese snack called aaruul, traditional dried curds that will be stored through the winter and beyond. From Culture, a magazine about cheese:

“A nomadic lifestyle gave Mongolians the flexibility they needed to move constantly in search of pasture. Milk (along with meat) became their primary source of sustenance. Enabling life on the fringes, the substance became revered…

“Here there are no ‘cheesemakers’; instead, milk transformation is woven into the fabric of everyday life, into a household cuisine based on not wasting a drop…”

curds
To make aaruul, the milk is boiled to separate the curds and whey. Then the curds, sometimes sweetened with sugar, are squeezed over and over again, wrapped in the cloth and pressed with a wooden board.

As the whey slowly drains, the curds come together in a solid loaf. She cuts the loaf into pieces and shares them with her child.


Laid out in the sun for a week or two, often on top of the ger (yurt), the aaruul will air dry into super hard and hardy chunks. Aaruul can taste both sweet and sour, but via View Mongolia, “aaruul taste varies from region to region or depending on the ingredients.” From Culture:

“These dried-curd cheeses are a far cry from the European traditions we know, but that makes sense: In sedentary societies, giant wheels can be matured slowly and carefully over timeβ€”in a culture always on the move, small-format, rock-hard curds are much more practical.

“The protein-packed morsels last indefinitely; acidic, yeasty, and pungent, they can be sucked on like candy, or mixed with hot water or coffee to make a nutritious drink when fresh milk is scarce.”

cutting the cheese, readying it to dry
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