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

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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 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.

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

Ferment your raw milk 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.

If you loved learning about Clabber Milk you might want to learn everything about Sourdough!

Start with this free guide,

Demystifying Sourdough – Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About Sourdough Starter – Why It’s Better For You – And How To Start One

Sourdough starter that is active and fresh makes wonderful artisan bread!



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Tuesday 6th of October 2020

Hello! How long and where can I keep the strained whey for the next batch of clabber milk? And also, how can I use the clotted cream? Is it similar to sour cream? The milk I got recently has a very thick layer of cream on top so I wouldn't want to waste it :)

Butter For All

Thursday 8th of October 2020

Hi Natalia,

You would keep whey in a clean jar in the refrigerator. It will last many weeks, but will eventually get very strong and alcoholic. Correct, clotted cream can be used just like sour cream, on berries, in smoothies, ice cream, butter, etc. Or you can skim the cream prior to clabbering and use it sweet. Hope that helps!



Saturday 26th of September 2020

We buy raw cow milk. The other day someone left the fridge door ajar overnight (the fridge is on our front porch) and the milk was warm by morning. We put it in another fridge to cool back down, but found that after 5-7 days, it is a turning bitter and separating. I thought this was the beginning of it clabbering. After reading though and seeing that it should be left out for several days, I am wondering if its doing something different. I'd love to still use it (there were 5 gallons in the fridge...). Any help would be appreciated.

Butter For All

Sunday 27th of September 2020

Hi Vicki!

It does sound like it's clabbering, but I imagine it's just taking longer in the cooler temp. You could try gently heating it until the curd separates from the whey giving you cottage cheese. You can use it in baked goods, and it makes great animal feed. The problem with clabber is you never know which bacteria are proliferating, just make sure you trust your nose on this one. If it smells off and makes your stomach turn it isn't good to drink. If it smells tart and sour, like yogurt, then it is probably fine. This is why I generally sour my milk with a continuous yogurt culture, I've found I get better more consistent results that way. But I understand you had no choice in the matter this time... I sure hope you don't have to dump all that milk! Wishing you the best, Courtney

Johney Freeman

Tuesday 8th of September 2020

Enjoyed all of your great knowledge and comments on clabbered milk. Thanks

Butter For All

Sunday 13th of September 2020

Thanks, Johney! Happy to hear it 😊


Friday 24th of July 2020

I have 1/4 gallon of raw cow's milk from about 2.5 months ago. I've been cooking up at my mother in law's house (we all live in close proximity on a beef ranch) and totally forgot about the raw milk down in my fridge! It has since separated into 3 layers; what appears to be cream, then whey, then milk? Is this "safe" to use for baking, or do I need to send it out to the chickens or cats?

Butter For All

Sunday 26th of July 2020

Hi Nicole,

I can't really say since I'm not there to see and smell it. But typically your nose will know! If it smells sour and tangy it's probably fine but if there is any off smell that makes you question it or color changes then it should be tossed.

In either case it sounds like it won't go to waste. Good job!

Best of luck,



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!