Clabber. It’s a word that might sound unfamiliar to many, but it holds a fascinating place in the realm of dairy products. If you’ve ever wondered what clabber is and how to use it, you’re in for a treat. So, grab a cup of tea, settle in, and let’s dive into the world of clabber.
Have you ever heard of clabber? If not, buckle in and grab your tea cup because this isn’t your typical supermarket dairy product; it’s a testament to the power of natural fermentation and a throwback to a time when refrigeration was a luxury few could afford. If you’re a fan of yogurt, cottage cheese, kefir, or any other fermented dairy, you’re going to love learning about raw milk clabber.
What is Raw Milk Clabber?
First things first, what exactly is clabber? Clabber is a traditional dairy product that is made from raw milk when the milk sours. It has a thick and custard-like consistency with a slightly tangy flavor. In essence, clabber is the result of raw milk fermenting and curdling naturally due to the activity of beneficial bacteria.
What is Raw Milk and Is Raw Milk Safe?
I discussed this HERE when I gave you the benefits of raw milk, but let’s go over it again. Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized. Instead, it is milked from the cow or goat and immediately cooled to preserve the good bacteria within it. From there, it is bottled and drank as is. Raw milk is typically full cream which also opens the possibilities to making raw milk butter, sour cream, clotted cream and so much more.
Generally, yes, raw milk is safe except in the case of infants, the elderly and severely immunocompromised people. However, with that said, the cow that your source your milk from is incredibly important. Proper care and maintenance of the farm – cleanliness, teet car, etc – and of the cow is vital. Without it, you are putting your family at an unnecessary risk of illness.
In other words, if you’re going to drink raw milk, know where it comes from first.
What is the Difference Between Buttermilk and Clabbered Milk?
Buttermilk and clabbered milk are both fermented dairy products, but they’re created through slightly different processes and have distinct characteristics.
Traditional buttermilk is the liquid that’s left over after churning butter from cream. It’s tangy, slightly sour, and thinner than regular milk. However, most buttermilk available in stores today is actually cultured buttermilk, made by adding specific bacteria to pasteurized milk to ferment it.
With that said, if you have cream from raw milk (HERE is how to separate milk from cream), you can not only make your own buttermilk (how HERE), but homemade butter (Recipe HERE) as well. All you need is that cream, something for draining the butter and a jar.
While both have a tangy flavor, clabbered milk is typically thicker and more sour than buttermilk. They can often be used as substitutes for each other, especially in baking things such as homemade bread and biscuits, where their acidity helps to activate baking soda and create a light, fluffy texture.
How to Make Clabbered Milk
Now, you might be wondering why clabber must be made from raw milk and why pasteurized milk won’t work. Well, the answer lies in the process of pasteurization itself. Pasteurization involves heating milk to high temperatures to kill harmful bacteria, prolong its shelf life, and ensure its safety. While pasteurization serves an important purpose, it also destroys the beneficial bacteria necessary for clabber formation. So, if you want to make clabber, raw milk is the only way to go.
Making clabber is a relatively simple process, but it does require a bit of patience. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to make your own clabber:
- Start with fresh raw milk: Raw milk can be obtained from local farms or specialized vendors. Ensure that the milk is fresh and of high quality. Quality milk is essential for a delicious and safe clabber.
- Choose a clean container: Select a clean and preferably glass container to hold the milk. Glass is a good choice as it doesn’t react with the acids produced during fermentation. I like to use THESE jars to store my raw milk.
- Allow the milk to sit at room temperature: Pour the raw milk into the container and cover it loosely. Place the container in a warm spot, away from direct sunlight. The ideal temperature for clabber formation is around 70°F (21°C). Yes, you are essentialling allowing the milk to spoil on purpose. Raw milk never actually spoils though; instead, it clabbers!
- Be patient and wait: Now comes the waiting game. Allow the milk to sit undisturbed for approximately 24 to 48 hours. During this time, the natural bacteria present in the milk will begin to multiply and ferment the lactose, causing the milk to thicken and develop the characteristic tangy flavor.
- Check for clabber formation: After 24 to 48 hours, check the consistency of the milk. It should have thickened considerably, resembling a custard-like texture. If it hasn’t reached the desired consistency, give it a little more time.
- Drain the clabber from the whey: Whey also forms when clabber does. Whey in itself has a lot of great uses, but you’ll need to separate it from the clabber. To do this, simply place the clabber in cheesecloth and hang it to drain. Use a bowl to catch the whey. Once it has drained, they are both ready to store.
- Store in the refrigerator: Once the clabber has reached the desired consistency, transfer it to the refrigerator to halt the fermentation process. The clabber can be stored in the refrigerator for several days, but it’s best to consume it within a week for optimal freshness.
Now that you have your homemade clabber, you might be wondering how to use it. Clabber can be enjoyed in a variety of ways, adding a unique and tangy twist to your culinary creations. Here are a few ideas:
- Spread it on toast: Clabber makes for a delightful spread on freshly toasted bread. Top it with your favorite jam or raw honey for a delicious breakfast treat.
- Blend it into smoothies: Add a dollop of clabber to your favorite fruit smoothie recipe for an extra tangy kick. It adds a creamy texture and a delightful tartness to your refreshing drink.
- Use it in baking: Clabber can be substituted for sour cream or yogurt in many baking recipes. It adds moisture, richness, and a subtle tang to cakes, muffins, and pancakes.
- Create savory dips and dressings: Clabber can be transformed into a delectable savory dip or dressing by combining it with herbs, spices, and other flavorings. It pairs wonderfully with vegetables, crackers, or as a topping for salads.
- Make clabber cheese: If you’re feeling adventurous, you can take your clabber a step further and turn it into a homemade clabber cream cheese. Simply strain the clabber through a cheesecloth or a fine-mesh sieve to separate the whey from the curds. The resulting curds can be pressed to create a soft and creamy cheese.
- Enhance soups and stews: Add a spoonful of clabber to your soups or stews just before serving to give them a delightful tang and creaminess. It adds a unique twist to traditional recipes and enhances the overall flavor profile.
Remember, when using clabber in recipes, it’s important to consider its tangy flavor. Depending on your personal preference, you may need to adjust the amounts to achieve the desired balance in your dishes.
So, if you’re looking to explore the world of unique dairy products and savor a taste of tradition, why not give clabber a try? With a little patience and the right ingredients, you can create your own homemade clabber and embark on a delightful culinary adventure.