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