Skip to Content

Clabber Milk – What It Is, Why You Should Eat It, and How To Make It

I may receive commission if you purchase through links in this post.

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.

A glass jar of clabber milk with text overlay.

Raw cow’s milk is full of naturally occurring beneficial lactic acid bacteria. When that bacteria is supported with a warm environment, it will ferment the milk and create something like 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 have 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 keeps other microbes that can be harmful to humans from growing. It is very important that you use only high-quality raw milk from clean grass-fed cows when making clabber milk.

A bowl of clabber milk with honey and crackers.

Clabber milk with honey

Why Should I Eat 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. articular strains of these bacteria vPariously 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.

Mr. McGee 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. To do so, fill your jar with hot tap water to avoid shattering the glass with the heat difference. Add the lid directly to the pan of boiling water, empty the jar of the warm water and pour boiling water into the warmed jar, and let it sit for a few minutes. Empty the jar and air dry the lid and jar on a clean towel. Let the jar and lid cool completely before using.

Add the raw milk to the sterilized jar and secure the lid loosely.

Ferment the raw milk at room temperature until the milk sours and starts to separate. This can take between 1 to 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 off the clotted cream, used for baking, eaten like yogurt, or 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.


Monday 29th of January 2024

Hello! Thanks for the wonderful information. I'm on my 3rd attempt to clabber, and while I'm getting my raw milk to clabber in about a week (it's chilly here), the flavor is not something pleasant, quite sour, a little yeasty, a little like mild blue-cheese. I've read that eventually a quicker clabber results in a sweeter product, but I've also read that continuing to use this as starter will only perpetuate this flavor profile despite speeding it up. Any advice for improving the flavor? I read these comments about clabber with honey or cookies and I can't fathom that!


Friday 22nd of March 2024

@Heather, eat it with tortilla, or simply with fried beans and eat it with it like if it was sour cream. I eat "leche agria"(clabber) every day.


Friday 23rd of February 2024

@Heather, use raw milk only

Butter For All

Friday 9th of February 2024

Hi Heather!

That does sound a little offputting. I think you should probably start a fresh batch, and make sure that milk you're using is exceptionally clean. If the milk cow has any bacterium in the udders, it can proliferate in your culture. Clabber should be cheesy and may be slightly sour tasting and smelling, but not in a bad way, if that makes sense.


Sunday 28th of January 2024

Hello Chef Courtney, Just found your site. I just found raw milk in my community and have set aside 2 cups to make clabber. I have however just read that using the heavy cream may not work? If this is true can I add more milk on day 2 or 3 so it can get the right balance to feed on? And secondly, I read that we can repeat the process, to mature the product, by taking 1/2 cup of clabber, adding milk, continue to allow fermentation. By repeating this 6 to 7 times we get a sweeter clabber. Is this true and is my understanding of the process correct? And would each repeat be for 3 days each? Thanks.

Butter For All

Friday 9th of February 2024

Hi Beate,

Your whole raw milk should work well, unless you specifically skimmed the cream off and used just that. Like I said, if it's just whole milk, that's been thoroughly shaken to emulsify the separated cream, it will work well for clabber. You are absolutely correct, continuous fermentation will improve the consistency and flavor of the clabber. Fermentation time could be anywhere between 3 to 7 days, depending on your climate and the unique culture in your clabber milk. It's like a sourdough starter, it's alive, and you just need to observe it, taste it, and experiment with timing. Good luck!


Sunday 31st of December 2023

Hi. My husband is lactose intolerant. Does clabbered milk have a lot of lactose left in it?

Butter For All

Tuesday 20th of February 2024

Hi Patricia, I would suspect that much of the lactose has been fermented away during the souring of the clabber milk. But, I do not have nutritional analysis on this, so proceed with caution.

Teresa Dyer

Monday 25th of December 2023

If I have kept my Raw milk in my fridge and have had it there. I have taken most of the cream off. But, still see a small amount. But now it taste a little sour/strong what can this be used for?

Butter For All

Tuesday 20th of February 2024

Hi Teresa, Raw milk, that is a little on the older side, as long as it's not rotten, can be used with great success in any baked good! You can put it in pancake batter, bread dough, make yogurt from it. There are lots of options

Tiny Backyard Henhouse

Tuesday 12th of December 2023

Help! After reading your article, I have two questions: 1) the article says "When the clabber has solidified it can then be skimmed off the clotted cream, used for baking, eaten like yogurt, or strained to separate the curds from the whey." I am using raw goat milk, and when it separates, how do I tell clabber from clotted cream from curds? What do you call the stuff that floats to the top and what do you call the liquid that's left? Which exactly is the clabber? 2) the article says "Using a tablespoon of clabber whey in the new batch of milk will speed the fermentation process along considerably." So only use the liquid which remains after you have removed the solids on top? Don't shake it up and then use a tablespoon of the combined contents of the jar? Thanks so much for any help and sorry for the confusion lol!

Butter For All

Saturday 16th of December 2023

Hi there!

#1 Raw goats milk might not separate the way cow's milk does because of the lower percentage of milkfat or the way its homogenized. Chances are, you wont get any clotted cream from goats milk, but if you did it would rise to the top and it would have the consistency of a lumpy sour cream. Below that (if any) you would find the clabber, a thickened milk of almost kefir consistency. If left longer, the clabber will separate further into curds (milk solids) and whey (a pale yellow liquid). As long as it hasn't turned to cheese, you should be able to stir the clabber to redistribute any solids that have separated. Technically, the whole culture is the clabber milk, but can be further talked about in those three categories. Typically for baking you would stir the clabber and use it like buttermilk, but if you want to eat the curds like yogurt it would be strained to separate the curds from whey. #2 You can use a tablespoon or two of either clabber or whey for inoculation of the next batch, it wont make much difference. I'm sorry that caused confusion.

I hope these explanations help and feel free to ask more questions if needed!

Happy Holidays,