Think of lacto-fermented foods like clabbered milk, sauerkraut or pickles as “super-raw” foods. The enzymes in lacto-fermented foods more than compensate for the enzymes lost in the foods that are cooked when consumed with a meal.
Lactic acid is what is responsible for the magic of lacto-fermentation; it preserves food by inhibiting putrefying bacteria. This organic acid is produced by a beneficial bacterium present on the surface of all plants and animals – even our own skin!
Traditional cuisines from around the world prized lacto-fermented foods and beverages for their medicinal properties as well as delicious taste. Most traditional cuisines included at least one fermented food or beverage with every meal, which worked to improve digestion and nutrient absorption.
Why Clabbered Milk is Important
When embarking on the adventure of lacto-fermentation for the first time, a basic ingredient required by many recipes is liquid whey.
Liquid whey serves as an inoculant and so is of critical value in fermenting vegetables, fruit chutneys and beverages; having some on hand is of primarily importance when incorporating these traditional methods into your routine.
Whey must be homemade and can be easily made by straining the clear liquid from plain yogurt, kefir, or clabbered raw milk through a dishtowel into a bowl. Powdered whey cannot be used as a substitute as whey is very fragile and its qualities are ruined when it is dried or powdered.
Once you’ve got a big jar of liquid whey ready to go from your first batch of clabbered milk, the world of fermenting food is truly your oyster! The whey lasts 6 months in the refrigerator, so it makes sense to make large batches at a time.
I’ve Left the Raw Milk on the Counter for a Week and it Won’t Clabber!
If after following the recipe below, your the raw milk still does not clabber, it’s time to have a conversation with your dairy farmer.
There is likely an issue with the Milk Urea Nitrogen value (MUN), which probably measures 23 or over. A high MUN prevents the raw milk from fermenting into yogurt or even clabbering properly. Cream from high MUN milk will not whip properly either.
This article on evaluating a grassfed dairy farm provides more information.
Homemade Clabbered Milk Recipe
Recipe for making clabbered milk at home which can be used for making homemade fermented foods and drinks loaded with enzymes and probiotics. Makes a great substitute for yogurt in smoothies too.
Add optional yogurt OR lemon juice to milk container if you need clabbered milk as quickly as possible. Skip this step if your milk is already sour or you are not in a hurry.
Shake up milk container vigorously.
Leave on the counter for 1-5 days until yogurt like curds form and separate from the clear liquid (whey) portion of the milk. How long this will take depends on the temperature in your home as well as the freshness of the milk. Here in Florida, clabbering typically takes 1-2 days no matter the time of year.
When attempting to clabber milk, it is best to use raw milk that is a week old or more. Keep it at room temperature on the kitchen counter and don't try to clabber in the refrigerator.
If your raw milk is very fresh and you don't have time to wait the many days until it clabbers, add the optional a few drops of lemon juice or a tablespoon of yogurt to the container of milk and shake it up. Leave on the counter as usual and it will clabber much more quickly.
NEVER attempt to clabber pasteurized milk even if low temp (vat) pasteurized. It will go putrid if left on the counter and is never safe to consume.
Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist
The Healthy Home Economist has been a Nutrition Educator since 2002. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Nutrition nonprofit the Weston A. Price Foundation since 2011.
Sarah earned a Bachelor of Arts (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Economics from Furman University and a Master’s degree in Government (Financial Management) from the University of Pennsylvania.
Mother to three healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.