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The Joy Of Ayran – The Health Benefits & How To Make It

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The Turkish yoghurt drink, ayran, has caused much confusion – dare we even say distress – over the years.

By that, we mean confusion for the foreign visitor; especially British holidaymakers looking to buy ingredients for their essential morning cup of tea!

Here’s a little tale to explain what we mean…

Ayran – Drinking Yoghurt, Not Milk

Ayran Yoghurt Drink
Ayran is a salty yoghurt drink

Dad comes out to Fethiye for a visit so we phone him to check he got here okay.

Me: “Hi dad. How’s your apartment? We’ll come round to see you in a few minutes.”

Dad: (In a very grumpy voice.) “Apartment’s fine and when you come round, bring some milk with you!”

“I’ve bought two bottles and they’ve both been sour. It keeps curdling when I try to make a cup of tea and it tastes awful!”

This is our ‘tee hee moment’ because we know exactly what’s happened.

We have lots of conversations like this with people who come to Turkey and go self-catering.

We can’t decide if there are lots of Turkish shop owners who have a good old chuckle to themselves as unsuspecting foreigners pay for their ‘milk,’ (only to return to the shop again a few minutes later to make another attempt).

Or if the shop owner thinks everyone loves ayran as much as they do.

The first supposition is definitely funnier!

What Is Ayran Made Of?

Just as we learned the art of drinking that other Turkish national drink, rakı, we only started to drink ayran in any quantity once we’d lived here for three or four years.

It’s an acquired taste!

Ayran is not milk.

It’s a yoghurt drink – a mixture of natural yoghurt, water and salt.

As the hotter weather creeps along the shores of Southern Turkey, it’s a fantastic summer drink.

These days, we can’t imagine life without it!

Of course, we drink ayran year round; not just in summer.

But if it’s served ice cold on a roasting hot day, it’s liquid heaven. “Buz gibi ayran,” is a favourite Turkish phrase, often said with dreamy smile. “Ayran like ice.”

You can’t miss it when you’re in Turkey. It’s part of the fabric of Turkish society.

It’s a fact of life.

It’s sold in plastic bottles (exactly the same as a British milk bottle), glass bottles, plastic cartons, cardboard cartons, by the glass, people make their own.

Everyone drinks ayran and we’ve definitely joined the fan club too!

So, now you must be wondering…why is ayran good for you?

Ayran Benefits – 4 Fantastic Reasons to Love This Yoghurt Drink

1. It’s easy on the budget and filling

If you’re in Turkey on a budget, most of the eateries where you sit down to eat your food will sell ayran.

Eat your food, drink your ayran and it’ll be very cheap. And, just as important, you will be extra full.

These days, we’re living in a world where we know of the importance of trying to reduce our plastic usage.

If you’re in an eatery and you order ayran, ask if they serve açık (ach-ick) ayran.

This is our favourite version anyway as it’s super fresh and you get a lovely light foam spooned over the top.

It’ll typically be served in a traditional copper cup or in a glass.

Açık Ayran
Look out for these ayran machines

Much better this than a small carton that has been mass produced in a factory.

Açık ayran is more fun, too. If you don’t use your straw, you can have a frothy moustache while you drink it.

Some places even serve it with a spoon so you can take your time, eating the foam top before reaching the ice cold yoghurt drink below.

2. It’s good for you in hot weather

The summer months in Southern Turkey can see temperatures in the 40s.

And, especially along the Mediterranean coast, this is sometimes combined with sweltering humidity.

This is where you begin to understand why Turks swear by ayran.

Served icy cold, the yoghurt’s magical properties help cool down over-heated bodies while the salt replenishes those salts lost during bouts of ridiculous and uncontrollable sweating.

We love to order a glass of açık ayran with our gözleme when we’re attempting to do our food shopping at Fethiye market on Tuesdays or Çalış market on Sundays.

Shopping in the summer heat can get quite taxing on occasion.

Gözleme, mixed Turkish pickles and pickled red cabbage finished off with the yoghurt drink combo can give the necessary fuel to get round the stalls for the necessary fruit and veg.

With Gözleme
Açık ayran and gözleme make for a good shopping combo

3. Prevention is better than cure…but ayran can help the curing process, too!

Because it’s yoghurt-based it helps to settle the stomach should you be unfortunate enough to develop a dose of the Turkey Trots (you know; griping, gurgling stomach, running to the loo every few minutes).

Again, the salt will restore those salts you lose while this unpleasant action is taking place!

We all know too much sun and alcohol shouldn’t be mixed. But we’ve all done it.

In a majority of cases, this is what causes your illness – not last night’s kebab.

Get yourself to the chemist, swig your medication down, sip some ayran throughout the day and you’ll hopefully be back up and running in no time at all.

4. It’s good sporty replenishment

If you do a lot of exercise like we do, ayran is great replenishment for when you have finished your workout.

Dairy drinks (especially milk) can help your body recover quicker.

We love to glug a glass down after a long run – it replaces salts, and, after just burning so many calories, it takes away those immediate hunger pangs, too. Until your next meal.

5. Well, it just tastes great!

Copper Cup
It looks the part when served in copper or pewter cups

For some people (including us) it takes a while to get your head round drinking salty, watery, yoghurt.

But, once you’ve acquired the taste, you’ll wonder why it took so long to have this traditional Turkish drink in your life.

And it’ll really feel like a taste of Turkey if you can get it served in a classic copper or pewter cup.

How Do You Make Ayran?

So, now that we know this yoghurt drink is not only tasty but it’s also good for us, what if you can’t buy ayran in the UK or wherever else you might be reading this?

Well, thankfully, it’s really easy to get the taste of Turkey and make your own ayran at home.

As we’ve said in the notes to our recipe below, you can choose how thick or how watery you want it to be.

If we buy branded varieties, I often just pour two thirds of a glass and then top up with cold water.

How To Make Ayran
Our homemade ayran – creamy and frothy

Açık ayran is different. It looks really thick because of the foam on top but the consistency of the actual yoghurt drink is perfect for my taste.

When you make your own at home, the consistency will have changed slightly when you remove it from the fridge.

Your froth, created by blending, will have gone slightly creamier, giving you the taste of that lovely homemade texture.

And if you feel it’s too thick, just add more water.

How To Make Ayran
5 from 2 votes

How To Make Ayran

This homemade ayran yoghurt drink is creamy & frothy. It's a great cooling summer drink but you can drink it all year round.
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Course Drinks
Cuisine Turkish
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 3
Calories 100kcal
Author Turkey’s For Life

Ingredients

  • 500 grams strained natural yoghurt
  • 1 litre cold water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • In a large mixing bowl, add your strained (süzme) yoghurt.
  • Add your water a little at a time, stirring as you go so that you keep a smooth consistency.
  • Add more water if you want it thinner.
  • Mix in your salt.
  • Whisk with a hand blender for around 30 seconds until you get a foam on top.
  • Refrigerate for roughly one hour and then carefully ladle into glasses, keeping the frothy texture.

Notes

  • As with all our recipes, calories are meant as a rough guide. The brand of yoghurt you use – and the amount you use – will cause differences.
  • You can choose how thick or how watery you want your ayran to be. These measurements are not fixed.
  • Serve your ayran with a sprig of fresh mint if you like.
  • Our recipe makes just under 1 litre of ayran. The consistency of yoghurt differs so you could get more than 1 litre.
  • If you can’t find Turkish süzme yoghurt, Greek natural yoghurt is a similar consistency.

Nutrition

Serving: 1 | Calories: 100kcal

And that’s our healthy, homemade ayran recipe. If you make it, we’re sure you’ll enjoy it on hot summer days.

Afiyet Olsun!

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KKOB

Wednesday 11th of March 2020

I substitute semi-skimmed or full-fat milk for the water. Throw in a few ice cubes and whizz for a few seconds in a blender.

You can also throw in a few pieces of fruit if you want it to become a smoothy.

Turkey's For Life

Thursday 12th of March 2020

Yummy! Yeah, we make lots of smoothies with yoghurt and fruit - good calories for us when we've been for a run. :) Ayran is great for rehydration, too. :)

MARK DANTONI

Thursday 28th of June 2018

That looks so good! Ayran is such a great drink (for being non-alcoholic). You're making me miss Turkey. Best to you both.

Turkey's For Life

Saturday 30th of June 2018

Aww, sorry for making you miss Turkey. Took us a while with ayran but we've always got some in the fridge now. :)

Larry

Thursday 5th of January 2017

I recently discovered ayran via a Turkish cookbook by Ozcan Ozan. Since summers in Santiago Chile also get pretty hot, I've developed an enormous fondness for the drink. Between ayran and cerkez tavugu, maybe I'm turning into a Turk .

Turkey's For Life

Saturday 7th of January 2017

Hi Larry. Thanks for your comment. Think we've got the very cook book you mention! :) Yeah, ayran is so lovely, especially when eaten with a kebab. ;) Easy to get addicted to Turkish cuisine. :)

Bill Zablosky

Saturday 9th of July 2016

I don;t know if anyone has mentioned this but this drink is manufactured in Peterborough Ont, Canada at CDC Inc.and we just call it yogurt soda

Turkey's For Life

Sunday 10th of July 2016

No, no one mentioned it, Bill. Good to know you can drink ayran - yogurt soda - in Canada, too then. :) You can get manufactured ayran here in Turkey but most people make their own.

Claudia Fey

Saturday 20th of June 2015

I love ayran... it's healthy, it's fulfilling, it's delicious... I can't think of anything better than ayran to accompany Turkish kebabs.

Turkey's For Life

Tuesday 23rd of June 2015

Thanks for your comment, Claudia Fey. Yeah, ayran with kebabs is so lovely. It's a real staple for us in the hot summer months. :)

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