Pastoral Production

Milk and Firewood in the Ecology of Turan

By: Mary Martin

Originally Published in 1980

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Pastoral production in Turan focuses on milk. Goats are the major producers because they are in milk from late February or March until late September. They are usually milked twice a day from April until midsummer and once a day thereafter. Sheep are in milk from March until mid­summer, but milked less so that the lambs (which have a higher price than kids) may receive more of the ewes’ milk. Villagers with large families also keep a cow in order to have fresh milk through the winter. In the summer cow’s milk is often combined with sheep and goat’s milk for processing.

Milk production is measured per animal by the amount of clarified butter produced. On the average, Turan residents estimate 400-500 grams per village animal and 1000­1500 grams for those animals which graze away from the villages year round. Sheep milk is richer in fat which gives ewes a greater yield of clarified butter but less of other products such as qorut. For this reason sheep milk is sometimes processed separately at milking stations. Processing milk into products that can be stored for later consumption or sale requires large amounts of firewood. The collection of this firewood from the live as well as the dead vegetation, in addition to the pressure of grazing, constitutes perhaps the most significant factor in the ecology of Turan today.

Milk and its products vary in their processing and use throughout Iran. Some products made in Turan are not known elsewhere, and in other areas of Iran often products are found which are less impor­tant or even unknown in Turan. The fol­lowing chart illustrates the products which are important in the Turan diet and the way in which they are processed. 

Panir (cheese)

In late summer and fall fresh milk is heated and rennet is added. This mixture is poured into a cloth on a tray to set and drain. The cheese is eaten fresh or salted and stored in untanned goatskins for winter consumption.

Arisha (flour and cheese mixture)

In the late summer (cheese-making time), flour, turmeric, and sugar are added to cheese which is then heated and stirred briskly with special spoons. Arisha is dis­tributed to shepherds as part of their rations—primarily by Sangsari owners.

Lor (boiled whey)

Some families collect the liquid from the cheese-making process, boil it until it solidifies and eat it fresh.

 Tarr (dried boiled liquid residue of qorut)

In early summer when qorut is being made, its liquid is saved and boiled. When it thickens it is whipped with the plant Lactuca orientalis, formed into little mounds and dried. It is used in home cooking and given as gifts to urban rela­tives, because it is valued as a souring agent in Persian cuisine.

Qeimaq (a crust of aerated cream)

In the spring and early summer, when the milk is heated in the morning to make yoghurt, it is ladled up and poured back causing froth to form on the top. This layer forms a crust and is removed before the yoghurt is stored in skins. It is eaten with bread or mixed with rice dishes.

Qorut (sun-dried balls of boiled, drained dugh) In the early summer dugh is boiled several hours until it thickens. This thickened dugh, called lath, is further drained in woolen bags or plastic gunny sacks. The lath is then formed into small balls which dry in the sun. Qorut is easily stored and is reconstituted for cooking.

Rushir (the cream ream layer of fresh milk)

At the beginning of summer when the ani­mals are milked twice, the evening milk is saved overnight to be combined with the morning milk before it is heated and converted to yoghurt. The layer of cream which forms is sometimes eaten with bread for breakfast.

Qorut Masti (a richer type of qorut)

In the spring fresh milk is added to dugh when it is boiled. The remain­der of the process is the same as for regular qorut. This type is made for home consumption only. Kettle placed over a fire. This fire symbol has also been used to indicate those steps in milk processing which require firewood.

Mast (yoghurt) Throughout the year, whenever milk is avail­able it is heated and a starter is added to con­vert it to yoghurt. The yoghurt may be eaten fresh, stored, or processed further into other products.

Dugh (churned yoghurt)

Dugh is the liquid re­maining after yoghurt has been churned and butter removed.

V Kama (evaporated fresh and partially boiled dugh)

In early summer dugh is boiled until it begins to thicken. It Is put into skins where it slowly evaporates and thickens Fresh dugh is added periodically. Kama is made for home con­sumption and is recon­stituted with water for cooking. It is eaten when families desire foods considered “hot” as opposed to those categorized as “cold,” such as mast chekida which has a similar appearance and taste. 

Gur Mast (fresh milk and yoghurt)

In the spring two parts fresh yoghurt are combined with one part fresh milk and eaten with bread.

Mast Chekida (drained yoghurt)

In late summer yoghurt is put into skins so that the liquid will evaporate and the yoghurt thicken. It is then transferred to storage skins for winter when it is eaten as is or reconstituted for cook­ing by adding water. On a smaller scale the yoghurt can be drained in cloth bags for sum­mer home consumption.

Kara (butter)

In spring and early summer when the fat content of milk is high­est, each day’s yoghurt is stored in skins until there is enough to fill a churn (a large tanned skin). The yoghurt is then churned with a long stick. The butter is removed and whatever is not eaten immediately is salted and saved in tins in cool places until the end of summer, when it is clarified.

Raughan-e-zard (clarified butter)

In August all the butter is combined In a large pot and boiled. Flour is added to help separate out the solids. This product is sold at ten dollars per kilogram to town merchants or local residents. Raughan intended for home con­sumption receives extra boiling.

Cite This Article

Martin, Mary. "Pastoral Production." Expedition Magazine 22, no. 4 (August, 1980): -. Accessed April 18, 2024.

This digitized article is presented here as a historical reference and may not reflect the current views of the Penn Museum.

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