FAMOUS SOUR MILK

Kalenjin taught how to make hygienic mursik

A favourite drink for hundreds of years, it is sometimes contaminated through unsanitary handling.

In Summary

• In Kericho, Kalenjins taught how to make mursik, yoghurt, ghee and butter that is hygienic and safe.

• Some people have added unacceptable foreign ingredients not prescribed in Kalenjin culture. A lot of milk goes to waste and people have gotten sick. 

 

Sotet gourds in which milk is fermented to produce mursik, a sour milk with smokey flavour. Gourdes are lined with ashes of special trees.
MURSIK GOURDS: Sotet gourds in which milk is fermented to produce mursik, a sour milk with smokey flavour. Gourdes are lined with ashes of special trees.
Image: COURTESY

Mursik, special fermented milk, is a famous Kalenjin drink often given to victorious athletes, enjoyed by entire communities and exported.

But it isn't always made hygienically, farmers don't always handle milk safely and sometimes unacceptable foreign ingredients are added.

Sometimes they use plastic containers, which are difficult to clean, instead of the traditional gourds or metal. Sometimes they add baking powder to speed up fermentation, which is not traditional.

 

The Kenya Dairy Board and State Department of Livestock on Friday took Kericho county dairy farmers through a day-long training on making yoghurt, mursik, ghee and butter to avoid contamination.

Mursik is made of boiled cow or goat's milk and fermented in a specially made calabash gourd or sotet that has been lined with the ashes of an indigenous shrub that gives it a smokey flavour.

The flowering shrub is known as African senna, popcorn senna, candalabra tree and peanut butter cassia.

Cabinet Administrative Secretary in the state department of Livestock Chebii Kilimo said on Friday unhygienic milk was being prepared by the community lately.

Sometimes unacceptable foreign ingredients, not approved by Kalenjin culture, are added.

CAS Chebii Kilimo, CEC Philip Mason, Kericho county commissioner Kamau Karungu and KDB managing director Margaret Kibogy.
SAFE MURSIK: CAS Chebii Kilimo, CEC Philip Mason, Kericho county commissioner Kamau Karungu and KDB managing director Margaret Kibogy.
Image: SONU TANO:

People have been hospitalised for drinking unhygienic mursik in Bureti in Kericho and Mogogosiek in neighbouring Bomet county.

KDB managing director Margaret Kibogy said experts were educating farmers on how to prepare mursik and other dairy products in hygienic conditions so no milk-related diseases would result.

She described milk as a balanced diet drink that contains what bodies need.

When milk products are made unhygienically, they go to waste and people get sick. 

She urged the Kalenjin community to go for value addition in milk processing if they expect to make big profits. Milk and tea have been big money makers.

Kericho county commissioner Kamau Karungu regretted the huge loss of milk from Kalenjin areas, though they are among leading producers.

He said the eight per cent of milk production from the community was just a drop in the ocean. He said the area could out-produce Mt Kenya, which doesn't have much land but produces enough for export and domestic use.

Promaco East Africa Limited general manager Colm D'Olier said milk is delicate and needs to be handled hygienically. A lot can go to waste if it is not handled properly.

“Take care, seek advice from livestock experts if you expect to earn profits from dairy farming," he said.

 

(Edited by V. Graham)