Clabber Milk-What It Is, Why You Should Eat It And How To Make It

Clabber Milk-What It Is, Why You Should Eat It And How To Make It
Clabber milk with honey

What Is Clabber Milk? Why Should I Eat It?

Clabber milk is a naturally fermented milk product that can be eaten raw or used in recipes. It also has a little leavening power all on its own so it’s great to add to baked goods. Raw cow’s milk is full of naturally occurring beneficial Lactic Acid Bacteria and when that bacteria is supported with a warm environment it will ferment the milk creating something similar to a cross between yogurt and kefir. Eventually, if left to ferment long enough the clabber milk will separate into curds and whey. Fermenting or souring milk is VERY different than having milk spoil. Spoiled milk only occurs if the beneficial bacteria found in clean raw cow’s milk has been killed by pasteurization thus allowing mold spores or other contaminants to flourish. In a fermented milk product the Lactic Acid Bacteria have soured the milk with the lactic acids they produce while consuming lactose. The higher acidity of the souring process keeps other microbes (that can be harmful to humans) from forming. It is very important that you use only high quality raw milk from clean grass fed cows when making clabber milk.

In Harold McGee’s book On Food And Cooking, The Science And Lore Of The Kitchen he elaborates on “The Health Benefits of Fermented Milks” stating:

The standard industrial yogurt and buttermilk bacteria are specialized to grow well in milk and can’t survive inside the human body. But other bacteria found in traditional, spontaneously fermented milk-Lactobacillus fermentum, L. casei, and L. brevis, for example-as well as L. planetarium from pickled vegetables, and the intestinal native L. acidophilus, do take up residence in us. Particular strains of these bacteria variously adhere to and shield the intestinal wall, secrete antibacterial compounds, boost the body’s immune response to particular disease microbes, dismantle cholesterol and cholesterol-consuming bile acids, and reduce the production of potential carcinogens.

Harold makes a good case for eating a variety of fermented foods other than commercially produced products

Making Clabber Milk

The process is very simple.

Ferment your raw milk in a clean glass jar with a clean loose fitting lid at room temperature until the milk sours and starts to separate. This can take between 1-5 days depending on the age of the milk, the temperature in your home and the natural bacteria in the milk itself.

When the clabber has solidified it can then be skimmed of the clotted cream, used for baking, eaten like yogurt, or it can be strained to separate the curds from the whey.

After straining the clabber the whey can be used as a starter for any lacto-fermented project from veggies to grains and is especially useful for starting a new batch of clabber milk. Using a tablespoon of clabber whey in the new batch of milk will speed the fermentation process along considerably. The curds will thicken and sweeten with straining and take on a cream cheese like texture.





13 Comments

    • Hi Sue,
      No, clabber and kefir are not the same. Kefir is started from a specific culture of kefir grains. Kefir grains are a symbiotic relationship between bacteria and yeast similar to a kombutcha scoby. Clabber milk is fermented using the natural bacteria in the milk itself. Kefir is actually more reliable as far as flavor and consistency go. Clabber milk can have a completely different flavor profile depending on the animal and the region the milk is from.
      Hope this helps,
      Courtney

  1. Kelsey

    When I strained the curds in cheesecloth, the whey still looks quite milky, not more golden clear like I expected. Did I strain too early? My raw milk set out for 4 days and had clear separation and clobbering. My first time so hoping I did it right! The curd look good, I tried them with some honey and cinnamon. A new flavor I’ll try to get used to! I drink coconut kefir daily and that had to grow on me too.

    • Hi Kelsey!
      I’d say that’s fairly normal. You might want to use a tighter weave cloth for straining. I recommend the organic cotton produce bags. There is a link above. Once the whey has set for awhile it may clear up. I agree, clabber has a strong, strange flavor at first. Honestly I’ve never become accustomed to it. I have a raw yogurt that I favor. But I still use clabber for baking or I hide a little in my smoothies. I happy to know I’m not the only one crazy enough to eat it 😉!
      Thanks for visiting my site. Come back soon!
      Courtney

    • Ellen L

      Perhaps the whey can be used to make some ricotta to recover the remaining proteins. I have done that with whey left over from making Chevre and I believe I also may have used or added whey from clabber as well. It is a more sour taste then just the quick culturing meso culture started cheeses, but less acid will be needed to precipitate out the ricotta as the whey is already acidic with the lactic acid.

  2. What sort of taste does the clabber have compared to yogurt and kefir? Is it similar? Can I use the clabber milk in cooking without it losing its probiotic benefit? Or does high temperature kill the little guys? Thanks!

    • Hi Billy!
      Clabber milk has a much stronger flavor than raw milk yogurt or raw milk kefir. The only way to explain it is to call it “farm-y”! It is a taste that is hard to define. Sometimes tasting sweetly spoiled and sometimes super tangy. I personally don’t like to eat it straight. But I can hide it in smoothies and dressings or eat it with honey.
      Unfortunately the probiotic benefit will be destroyed in temperatures over 115°. But on the bright side, if you cook with it you will still get the benefit of the pre-digested milk sugars and proteins that make it easier for our bodies to assimilate the nutrients in the milk.
      Thanks for checking in!
      -Courtney

    • Ellen L

      I think the final flavour will also depend on the type of animal the milk came from, cow, goat, or sheep. I think cows milk might taste more ‘farm-y’ as the moderator suggests, I don’t find that it gots that far with the milk from our goats. With good quality and variety of minerals, excellent protein from alfalfa, good copper levels etc. our milk is not goaty so the resulting things made from it are pleasant. I happen to really like clabbered milk cheese. I sense that is is very good I strain it and salt it just like I would for Chevre. It seems to me like it has similarities to Chevre, sour cream, cream cheese yogurt all rolled into one. Really the isolated bacteria used to make these various things came from somewhere! Clabber is just a little more complex then those. I also do not really find it stronger then Kefir, but we let our kefir culture with many times more grains then most people do and actually let it get thicker and more sour, rather then runny and half sweet still.

      If we all grew up before industrialized dairy came along in the ‘homogenized’ grocery supermarkets, our palates would be accustomed to traditionally made foods. Hope you can enjoy it yourself.

    • Hi Deb,
      Yes! It absolutely needs to be RAW milk. Pasteurized milk will not contain the beneficial bacteria needed to safely make clabber milk. As to making clabber with goats milk, as long as it’s raw and unpasteurized you can proceed with this recipe.
      Happy Clabbering,
      Courtney

    • Ellen L

      Deb if you can get raw goats milk of good clean quality, do make clabber from it! I was able to obtain raw goats milk occasionally where I live in Canada also despite the difficulty of finding it. Now we have our own goats for milk and I enjoyed making some clabber over the spring and summer and loved it. I strained some batches down to the thickness of a good Chevre goat cheese and froze some extra for later use too. Just know that as the seasons change so does the milk that the animals produce. Earlier in the season the milk was not at thick and had less fat then what I am getting now. Goat milk does not readily separate like cows milk, as it is naturally homogenized, but I have been getting a big cream layer forming on over half the milk after less then a week of sitting in a cold fridge. So I am curious to make clabber again now. I wish you good success and enjoyment in making it.

  3. Sylvia

    Growing up in Germany this was something we ate frequently. It was delicious..my Oma would set a bowl of milk in a side corner of her kitchen where very little activity took place except through her. We ate the clabber when it was similar to a lose set jello…delicious! …

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