Friday, March 5, 2010

Clabbered Milk


Clabbered milk is the next thing to take up residence on my very overcrowded counter.  I have read that you should just keep a jar sitting out all the time. Whenever you use any, just add some milk back into it.  My philosophy of adding one thing at a time into our routine brings me to this next.  I am headed to some other raw milk stuff, but need to get this step figured out.  So.... my clabber jar will be living right next to my sourdough starter crock.  I hope it does not smell terrible.

One important note, the clabbering process only works with raw or unpasteurized milk. Pasteurized milk, if left out, only produces the nasty sour milk that we all know and don't love today.

What is clabber?  Clabber is naturally soured raw milk.  It is also the beginning of all raw cheese. Take a 1/2 quart of fresh milk and leave it out (cover with a towel or cheese cloth, it must be able to breathe). Wait for it to thicken. Depending on the temperature in your house this could take one to three days. It should be the consistency of pudding. Bacteria in the milk begin their process of converting lactose (a sugar, and therefore sweet) into lactic acid (which being an acid, is tart or sour.)  This gives the milk a sour, acidic taste that is more tangy than buttermilk or yogurt.

It will smell very sour at this phase.... probably too sour to use. Dump half the jar out and replace with fresh milk and mix. Let that sit a day till it "clabbers" again. It won't be so sour now.  Again, a similar process to growing a sourdough starter.   If necessary, you could again dump half of this and make a third generation, but with the price of raw milk, I don't think so.  I confess that some creme fraiche will be going into the first batch to get it started and none of it is going to be thrown out!  I will use it in something.

The clabbered milk you have produced can then either be left out (if it is not too warm in your house or you use it often) or refrigerated. When you need some in a milk product, scrape the stuff off the top and toss it (it sounds like a "bloom" on other cultured stuff), then spoon out what you need and refill the  jar with fresh milk. Just keep your little clabber garden going.

Now, on to the bigger question....What do you use it for?
  • It is the beginning of all cheese (which I want to learn how to make)
  • Starter for cottage cheese
  • Starter for sour cream
  • Starter for cultured butter
  • Add texture to baked goods such as pancakes, bread, muffins. 
I don't know how this will all turn out, but plan to give it the old college try.  This is just the next step in our raw milk adventure.  I did find out where the word came from...  The word ‘clabber’ comes from the Irish word for thickened or the Scots word for mud, whichever you like, and the Irish word for milk is banne (thank you MacBain’s Dictionary). Together they make up the word ‘bonnyclabber’, which is what we know as buttermilk..

Best of Health to you


  1. First, I love your counter top! So much good stuff happening there.
    Second, I'll be super interested to see what comes of this and how it all works out for you. I too am not into "throwing out" ANY raw milk because it is soooooooo pricey for us after we pay for the shipping!

  2. I love your counter too! Who would have thought we would need to make clabbered milk? What a funny word.

    I was doing some experimental cooking today. 1. My mayo did not turn out but 2. I made kifer cottage cheese that turned out more like riccotta cheese, which is my favorite so that was great.

    Tomorrow we get to go pick up our FREE raw milk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so excited both because its raw & free. God Bless, Melissa

  3. Wow! I'm a few steps behind this one, but I will have to try it sometime!

    My cute husband is very interested in your amazing garden. We'd love to see some more pictures. The one on top of your blog is so precious. Someday we will be real farmers like you guys. ;) But for now, we just bought wood to build a raised planter for veggies in our back yard. :)

  4. Thanks everyone for the input. This is an amazing adventure. Melissa - you got raw milk FREE??? That is amazing. I would suggest you give them a "donation" because it is illegal for them to sell it to you. Then, it is a win-win. Maybe don't give it to them when the milk changes hands, but ask if you could send them a check for feed or something. A month's worth would be good.

    Use the mayo that didn't turn out for salad dressing. There are a bunch in Nourishing Traditions. I realized I didn't do anything on salad, so I will have to backtrack again. :) Maybe you could come up with a terrific salad dressing.

    Also, please do pictures and maybe write something up on milk, kifer cottage cheese and other stuff. Then everyone can try something different. I am on the stepping stone to make cheese and cottage cheese without buying anything.... maybe a starter culture, but I hope not. We'll see.

    Vanessa, I do plan to begin a garden section soon. I intended to start a few weeks ago, but have been crazy busy. I'll try again this week. Jason and Apryle just built boxes, so I might be able to pitch in there an get some pics and stuff on raised bed gardening.

    Be blessed all. The Lord's day is good and reminds me that we are created to Worship the God of our salvation and creation.

    Love ya

  5. How's the Clabber going? I'm so excited, we just picked up 2 gallons of free raw milk!!!!! I might give you a call tomorrow because I'm not sure what I'm going to do with all of it. I'll get your number from my mom.

    I really thought there was no hope of getting raw milk here & with your links, a little research & a drive we got it!

    Hope your Sunday was well (and a relaxing Sabbath day). Melissa

  6. Melissa.... this morning you probably have cream on the top of your milk. You probably want to skim some of that off. You can make butter, and sour cream from that.

    From the milk you could try low temp yogurt. We use that instead of milk on the soaked granola. It is good in smoothies too. Use the fresh milk for a couple of days while all this is culturing, then you can switch. After it cultures it keeps for a long, long time.

    You could also try some "farmers" cheese - kind of like separating the yogurt out. I'll post a bunch of recipes for you.

    You should also probably think about getting a clabber going. I think that means you don't have to spend a bunch of money on cultures. You can use creme fraische (I can never figure out how to spell the darn thing). Just buy some pasturized creme fraische and you can mix it into your clabber to get it going.

    My clabber looks good and does not smell bad at all. I did use the creme fresche to get it going and it looks really nice, kind of like sour cream...... kind of.

    I am so excited for you. Can you do a great post on your adventure and the links you used so I can link up to it. Maybe Vanessa and Heather could both try to find the same situation.

    Keep me posted. I'll be home today and waiting to hear from you. Give me a call if you want. I'll FB my phone number to you.

  7. Hello my American friends!:
    I am French born and a country girl. We got our milk raw from the farm. Mom boiled the milk we used in coffee, soup, etc. But we always kept a jar of raw, uncooked milk to let it clabber or sour.
    You never had to worry about the milk left to sour because any bad bacteria would be eliminated in the process of souring.
    This sour milk with the cream on top has a sweet smell and is most delicious and digestible. It contains enzymes and acidophilus, calcium, magnesium, etc...
    We used to drain a little of the whey through a cheese cloth and feed it to chickens or pigs (added to cooked potatoes).

    In the summer we would have a dinner of this drained sour milk with boiled new potatoes and some chives, and it was one of our favorites as children.

    As I have a source of raw milk here in California, I continue souring it like Mom did in France, and have a cup or two for lunch.

    I believe it is very healthy but would like to have a comparison of its composition to compare to that of unsoured raw milk. My guess is that the sour milk, on top of being more digestible, is probably also more nutritious.

    Thank you. Gabrielle K.

  8. I recently bought a dairy farm and have started making cheese, sour cream, and butter, etc... I came across clabbered milk quite by accident when I had left out a gallon of raw milk for lack of room in my fridge and it got thick and creamy..I tasted it and it was delicious. Then I read about clabbered milk. My countertop now looks like yours..containers of milk clabbering, and pots of milk curdling in the midst of cheesemaking. I love it!! It's a labor of love and a labor for health!!

  9. I am working on my first clabber. Started with fresh raw milk, but I didn't scrape the cream off (it was in a narrow topped bottle and I couldn't see the separation) after almost 24 hours it was thick enough to coat the jar, but it smells fermented like bread dough that correct? Or should I start over? The plan is to make cultured buttermilk.

  10. Hi,
    I have left out my raw biodynamic milk on bench for a few days - it is very thick and has like a mould or fungus on top. It smells delicious like cheese. Is it safe? I have googled everywhere and can find no answer.

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