The range of Russian dairy products in Russia strikes imagination and taste buds. There is a lot of healthy diet drinks, from thicker kefir or ryazhenka to fizzy ayran. Cottage cheese tvorog can be eaten on its own or be an ingredient for several delicious recipes, and smetana sour cream is a traditional dip sauce or condiment for pancakes and soups.
Read and discover the Russian dairy foods!
Tvorog is Russian pressed cottage cheese, similar to curd or farmer cheese. The distinctive features of Russian tvorog is that it has it has firmer curds (particles).
Tvorog is featured in many traditional Russian recipes: breakfast pancakes syrniki, zapekanka – tvorog baked in oven, vareniki – dumplings with sweet stuffing, vatrushka cakes or traditional Easter dish paskha.
It can also be eaten on its own as a healthy snack food and a great start to the day. You can mix it with sour cream, jams, honey, nuts, fruit – anything of your choice.
Smetana is Russian sour cream widely used in the national cuisine:
- As a condiment to various pancakes, including cottage cheese pancakes syrniki or savoury potato pancakes draniki. Also served with dumplings pelmeni or vareniki.
- As a sauce to salads
- As a final touch to soups, such as borscht
- As a casserole sauce used in stews – its high content in fat allows smetana not to curdle at higher temperatures unlike similar crème fraîche.
- As a base for cremes or desserts
- Mixed with tvorog for breakfast
Smetana is also very popular in Ukrainian, Belarusian and Polish cuisines.
Ayran is a refreshing fermented diary drink. This slightly fizzy sour drink made of yoghurt substance is a great thirst quencher.
It has made its way to Russia either from Turkic countries such as Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Tajikistan or from the North Caucasus countries such as Armenia, where this drink is also very popular.
Ayran can give you an energy boost and revive you on a sweltering day. Try it and discover for yourself.
Another similar drink is tan.
Curd snack (Rus. “glazirovannyi syrok”, literally coated cheese) is a compact size diary snack made of sweet pressed mass of curd or quark cheese and coated with chocolate or icing.
Curd snacks can have a filing of poppy seeds, condensed milk or jam.
This tiny treat is a great tea-time dessert. Even if you are not a fan of dairy products, you’re going to love this snack!
Kefir is a fermented milk drink and an organic health booster. Similar in taste to yoghurt, it has a thinner consistency and thus sold as drink. It originated in Caucasus mountains where people are known for their longevity and is treated there as a heavenly gift.
These are some of the constituents of kefir that speak for themselves:
- Micro-organisms: lactic acid bacteria, yeasts
- Vitamins or pro-vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, vitamin D, vitamin K2, folic acid
- Minerals: calcium, iron, iodine
Health benefits of kefir are considered higher than that of yoghurt because kefir has much more microorganisms. Kefir is good for ingestion and is believed to reduce cholesterol and have an antioxidant effect.
Kefir is widely popular in Russia since Soviet times. It can be drank at breakfast, or mixed with cereal the night before so it gets into a porridge substance by morning. It is also used in cold summer soup Okroshka. Also, kefir is used for a thick kind of blini (pancakes).
Kefir is considered as a diet food and is often a used for a detox day. On this day kefir becomes the main food of the day’s diet with little amount of other healthy products – some nuts, vegetables or buckwheat.
If you find that kefir is a bit too tangy for your taste try drinking it with some sweeter fruit and you’ll soon grow into it.
Ryazhenka is a Russian-Ukrainian dairy drink similar to yoghurt. It has creamy color and characteristic taste with a caramel twist. Because of its health benefits and lovely taste it is a great drink for children and it is loved by healthy eaters as a dietary product.
Ryazhenka has almost the same nutritional properties as milk but they are better absorbed and digested by human body, especially protein. Rich in calcium and phosphor, this Russian dairy product is more delicate in taste than kefir but higher in calories.
Ryazhenka is cooked from baked milk by adding special souring ferments. Baked milk (топленое молоко) is drink which has a long tradition. It was cooked in Russian villages by leaving a jug of boiled milk in an oven for a day or over night until it is coated with a brown crust. The milk changes its color and taste and gets thicker consistency.
Today, both baked milk and fermented ryazhenka are produced on an industrial scale. However, those who like to experiment can try to cook baked milk at home by pouring the milk that has just boiled into a thermos flask (which is washed with hot boiled water) and leaving for 4-6 hours.