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.
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.