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

Learn all about the health benefits of Clabber Milk and how to make it.


What Is Clabber Milk?

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.


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

Clabber milk with honey


Why Should I Eat It?

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.

Start by sterilizing a glass jar and lid in boiling water. Fill your jar with hot tap water first to avoid shattering the glass with the heat difference. Add the lid directly to the pan of boiling water and pour boiling water into the warmed jar and let it sit for a few minutes. Let the jar and lid cool before using.

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.



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Tuesday 12th of May 2020

I had a gallon of store bought milk get thick and chunky. It still smelled good and tasted good, so I let it set out in a bowl and it separated into curds and whey. I gradually heated it to 100 degrees and strained it and made cottage cheese and whey. They taste good. Are they safe to consume? The milk was whole milk from Walmart.

Butter For All

Wednesday 13th of May 2020

Hi Jane,

I would personally never drink curdled pasteurized milk. You have no idea what kind of bacteria is in there and it's definitely not the bacteria that milk starts with before pasteurization. I personally would have to say no, it's not safe to eat... But that's just me.

Hope this helps!



Thursday 16th of April 2020

This looks great! I heard it's excellent with corn bread.

Brenda Norman

Sunday 28th of June 2020

I grew up dinking Clabbered milk. It was made from Milk left in the plastic jug my mother brought from the store. My mother made cornbread with it and we drank it. And I am healthy.

Butter For All

Thursday 16th of April 2020

Hi Karen,

As one commenter pointed out, it gets better after a few batches, so don't be put off if the first batch or two is on the funky side!



tuwey mercy

Wednesday 25th of March 2020

hi i let my raw milk ferment and has stayed in the glass jar for four months, is it safe to consume? is there any harm if it ferments for such a long time? mercy

Butter For All

Friday 27th of March 2020

Hi Mercy,

I'm sorry I cannot advise you on this. Four months seems like a very long time, has it turned to cheese?


Monday 23rd of March 2020

Great information--thanks. I just got some raw goat milk and I wanted to try clabbering it. It finally did separate around day 5, but I left it out over one more night and woke up to find its really separated to the top and its got a little brownness on the surface.

As you can imagine I'm a little apprehensive to try it. It smells sour, I can't tell if its off or not since its my first time. Any thoughts?

Butter For All

Friday 27th of March 2020

Hi David,

Glad you found this useful! It is interesting that it discolored. I would say to scrap that batch, not worth the risk. If you didn't las time, make sure to sterilize your jar and lid with boiling water, that might help fend off unwanted bacteria in the future.

Hope this helps!



Thursday 27th of February 2020

Hi, A friend of mine was very concerned when she saw I was keeping my raw milk outside to ferment. I wouldn't have taken it that serious if she didn't have a background in microbiology, but she might have been misinformed still… She said that bacteria like Listeria and Enterobacter would cause disease only when they surpassed a certain limit through keeping the milk outside. I don't know how true that is - but from what I've read, raw milk contains enzymes and antibodies that make it less susceptible to bacterial contamination, and if a batch of milk really has dangerous pathogens, it is because the cow was ill and they would show up in the pasteurized milk just as well, if not even with a higher probability.

She meant raw milk would be probably fine, but letting it sit oustide (ferment) would be unsafe. This doesn't make sense to me, as fermented raw milk products are also available in stores, and are being produced by more or less the same process. This was my first time trying it my own, but I consume store bought raw yogurt frequently and never had issues, in fact it's even easier on me than normal raw milk and of course pasteurised which I don't tolerate at. So I would think she is probably just biased by the mainstream "scientific" view on raw milk, as so many others… Any thoughts on this?

Butter For All

Sunday 1st of March 2020

Hi Zeena!

You are 100% correct! People have been letting clean raw milk from healthy animals culture at room temperatures for ages without issues. If there was an undesired pathogen present, your nose would know!!! I'm sure there is some small risk, as with any ferment or culture, see, when the raw milk is left out to clabber the strongest bacteria will prevail. In most cases that is the various strains of lactobacilli.

It sounds like you have a strong microbiome from eating ferments, I personally wouldn't worry. Especially if the clabber milk smells good and tastes good. Getting it to taste good can take several batches! Another way to make sure your good bacteria prevail is by culturing the milk like in do in my Raw Milk Yogurt!

Hope this helps!