For the longest time, I’ve wanted to make this Japanese milk drink. J. remembers first having Calpis with his Japanese tutor, about twenty years ago. They would sit out on her sun-porch to study; one day she served him a glass of the pleasant milky white soft drink. But I recall that thirty years (+) ago, J. brought me a beautiful blue-paper wrapped bottle from Manna, the foreign and very exotic grocery store in Ann Arbor. It looked like a bottle of fine liqueur—a drink for celebration with its cheerful patter of white dots. Then he told me it is called “cowpiss!”
One of us remembers he visited me when were in junior high school. I should ask him if he thought I was “cute” back then!
A note, we celebrated closing the deal on our new house, though not with Calipco; the paper signing session was like a party and we had champagne and lunch with our buyer’s agent afterward.
A note, too: I first found it online four or five years ago, but I have not actually tried this recipe. It’s easier to find it ready-made than to find citric acid! If you try it, let me know how you like it?
Calpis (カルピス Karupisu) is a Japanese uncarbonated soft drink, manufactured by Calpis Co., Ltd. headquartered in Shibuya, Tokyo. The beverage has a light, somewhat milky, and slightly acidic flavor, similar to plain or vanilla-flavored yogurt. Its ingredients include water, nonfat dry milk and lactic acid, and is produced by lactic acid fermentation.
It was first marketed on July 7, 1919. It quickly became popular in pre-war Japan as its concentrated form meant it kept well without refrigeration. The polka dot packaging used to be white dots against a blue background until the colours were inverted in 1953. It was originally themed on the Milky Way, which is in reference to the Japanese festival of Tanabata on July 7, a traditional observation seen as the start of the summer.
From the Calpico site:
In 1991, CAPY U.S.A. Inc. (presently CALPIS U.S.A., Inc.) was founded in Los Angeles and started distribuitng CALPICO Concentrate which is the export version of CALPIS.
Check out the site for more info about how Calpico is made!
(It’s obvious that the North American name was changed because of the unfortunate pronunciation in English.)
A very popular Japanese drink
with a refreshing yogurt flavor.
- 1 pint (about 2 cups) plain yogurt (450 g)
- 2 1/2 cups sugar (500 g)
- 1 1/2 teaspoon citric acid powder (or 9 tablespoons of lemon juice)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Using a double boiler, combine and stir the yogurt and sugar into the inner saucepan until smooth:
Heat it at about 160°F to 175°F (71°C to 79°C) for 15 minutes, while stirring constantly. Never let it boil.
When the syrup is at room temperature, add the citric acid or the lemon juice.
For serving, dilute the syrup with 3 or 4 times the amount of water or soda to your taste. Serve with ice and a slice of lemon. Note: This syrup preserves well in the refrigerator.
This recipe works much better with citric acid powder. If using lemons, you will need a lot of lemon juice to get strong acidity.