Clabbered Milk: Easy Buttermilk, Yogurt & Sour Cream Subsitute


Clabbered milk or Clabber is a soured raw milk product that is similar to yogurt, sour cream, skyr, viili or quark. It is also known as Bonny Clabber, Autumn Milk, Clotted Milk, Curdled Milk, Rammed Milk or Dickmilch. (Ahem… German for “thick milk.”) Way back before there was baking powder and milk pasteurization, clabbered milk was made regularly as a buttermilk substitute that was used as a quick leavener. In baking, the soured milk reacts with the baking soda giving biscuits and pancakes a light and fluffy personality. (I never quite understood  naming baking powder “clabber girl” but I guess it makes sense now doesn’t it ?)


Clabbered milk is also very typically consumed for breakfast just as skyr or yogurt would be, with a sprinkle of sugar, a drizzle of honey or molasses or even fancified with some cinnamon, nutmeg, jam and dried fruit. Savory applications for clabber include Bavarian-Austrian soups such as Autumn Milk Soup or Stosuppe that date back to the 1500’s. Farmers would take autumn milk, or thick, fermented soured milk and mix it with flour or potatoes to thicken it.  Cumin salt and pepper simply seasoned this bechamel, or buttermilk gravy soup. This soup was served as breakfast or supper with potatoes or stale bread. In Europe, clabber remained popular even through the thirties and forties, it wasn’t until the regularity of pasteurization that clotted milk disappeared. Unlike homemade yogurt this thick, sour, raw milk is insanely easy to prepare. While yogurt typically has an ideal temperature of around 100-108 degree’s farenheit, clabber’s happy place is right around 70 which is what I would assume to be an average room temperature for most homes. Clabbered dairy is nutritious, raw and tasty!


What’s So Great About Fermented Dairy ? – When the lactose is consumed by the fermentation process, milk becomes easier to digest. Raw dairy is said to be consumable for even the lactose intolerant, fermented dairy such as yogurt, kefir and clabber are even easier to digest since even less lactose is present. Fermented, raw dairy is rich with enzymes, beneficial bacteria and even more vitamins than what is found in regular or even raw milk. It builds your immunity, it aids digestion and it has an increased amount of vitamins and cultures  that make it ideal for your nutrient dense diet.

Is all Soured Milk Created Equal? – No, there actually is a difference between yogurt, kefir, clabber, skyr and so on. The difference is the live cultures found in each product. Kefir has the widest variety of cultures and yeasts as well. Sour cream, yogurt and skyr typically have a similar amount of bacteria that are comparable to one another but the cultures will vary. Clabber or buttermilk are a little simpler yet. This product is made simply with whatever bacteria exist naturally in your raw milk. The bacteria will vary from region to region, cow to cow. Local, living food is the best thing you can consume to boost your immunity.


 Clabber, A Stupid Simple (RAW) Substitute for Buttermilk, Yogurt and Sour Cream

I have had a lot of ups and downs with preparing my own fermented dairy goods at home. I have found that this clabber as well as Kefir are the easiest, most straight forward, stupid-proof recipes. Raw milk is critical for properly fermenting dairy because it contains the beneficial bacteria’s that will ferment and culture the milk. Fermented dairy made with raw milk will have the widest variety of nutrients. The sole purpose of pasteurization is to kill the bacteria, without the bacteria and enzymes you have dead food and dead food does not encourage life! Remember, not that long ago it was not “raw milk” it was simply milk. If for some reason you do not have access to raw dairy pasteurized “organic” (hormone and antibiotic free) milk can be used, however a starter culture of some sort will always be necessary and it will not be “clabber.” Clabbered milk specifically refers to simply souring raw milk. I also use the clabber method to prepare homemade sour cream and yogurt because it is the best way to ferment in a cold climate.

  • 3-4 cups raw milk, a week or two old is best
  1. Place raw milk in a clean jar with a loose fitting lid. (you can also use use a towel and rubber band) 
  2. Place in a cabinet or warm-ish spot for 3-4 days.
  3. When you can tilt the jar to the side and it stays in one cohesive shape your clabber (yogurt or sour cream) is finished.


  •  Using this “clabber method” is the easiest way to prepare homemade yogurt in a cold climate, use a skyr or viili starter for best results.
  • The longer you ferment, the more it will separate. The more it separates the easier it is to strain. Strained clabber has a texture that is closer to clotted cream or or Greek yogurt. 
  • Fresh, or even not so “fresh” raw milk is necessary, but  since you are souring it anyway go ahead and buy that clearance milk that is about to expire for half the price! Use raw milk that is a week or two old for the best results.
  • Clabbered milk can be used in any recipe that calls for buttermilk, yogurt or kefir.

NOTE: For homemade sour cream add a tablespoon or so of purchased sour cream and use raw cream, if available. For stress-free yogurt use a few tablespoons of prepared yogurt with milk and/or cream. (use prepared skyr or another Scandinavian starter for best results in a cold climate) I have “clabbered” dairy using this same process with an old batch of yogurt or sour cream. I typically exclusively use raw, whole milk for all of my fermented milk projects. (This results in sour cream that is not as thick as you would expect)

14 thoughts on “Clabbered Milk: Easy Buttermilk, Yogurt & Sour Cream Subsitute

  1. March 13, 2013 at 8:02 am

    Fermented food is wonderful. That is something I’ve never eaten or made…

    The most difficult part of the recipe is finding raw milk…



  2. Alyse
    March 14, 2013 at 6:56 am

    I make clabbered cream from the raw milk I buy at my farmer’s market. It thickens right up if I set the cream ut for 12- 18 hours. I can then make butter and butter milk or choose to use the clotted cream as is for baking, pancakes or waffles, scrambled eggs omelets, quiche or like yogurt. So simple and rich! Strained through cheese cloth over night over a bowl to catch the whey and you have a simple cheese. 🙂

  3. Shirley Owens
    September 10, 2013 at 6:08 pm

    Alyse, This is exactly the information I needed to get my first batch of butter and buttermilk made. I wasn’t sure about the temperature at which to clott the cream I have skimmed off. I have a really good source for raw milk and I don’t want to waste any of this blessing. Thanks, Shirley

  4. Raheel
    February 28, 2014 at 2:52 pm

    I have raw milk that is about 3 weeks old that I used to make kefir through a freeze dried kefir starter kit and the kefir has a weird taste to it. I have only made and drank kefir once before so I don’t know much, but this kefir gave me a bitter taste. I felt it on the back of my tongue and almost in my nose kind of. Does anyone have more experience with this? Has this gone bad? Is this normal?

    If it is beneficial to drink, I don’t care about the taste. I just don’t want to be harming myself.


  5. Cat
    March 4, 2014 at 2:23 am

    I can’t really advise you on whether or not the milk may or may not be safe. I can say that from my own experiences the soured milk that is a few weeks past it’s “expiration date” has been more sour and more cheesy but not bitter. Even clabber I would consider to be more sour than especially bitter. I wish I could be of more assistance!

  6. April 19, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    Finally! Someone with information on souring milking and making your own culture. This has been such hard information to find. It is so important to not lose vital food information. We have been so dumped down about food most of us have no idea how to make simple dairy products. But now I know! Thank you. ! I have my own diary goats and this is my first year getting milk. And am now learning critical old time food skills. Thank you so much. This is such important information. When thinks go south in our lives we have to know how to make food from our own resources. Thanks again for post this information.

  7. Alaister
    June 18, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    We leave raw milk in the fridge for 3-4 weeks then take it out and let it sit at room temperature until the plastic bottles have swollen and the milk has separated into curds and cloudy whey. We then strain it through a jam strainer overnight, pack the curds into a container, the whey into bottles and place them in the fridge. The curds turn into soft cheese that becomes more tasty as time progresses and after several weeks it’s still great to eat and definitely not ‘off’. The whey tastes very nice too, if ever so slightly vinegary; it goes into our morning green shakes to add protein. Although raw milk is excellent, the results of this souring are even better – and probably even more healthy.

  8. Michele
    July 13, 2014 at 5:16 am

    I actually have 2 quarts of fresh raw cream sitting on the counter right now. I used a couple tablespoons of yogurt per quart to help get it started. This is a new process for me to try.Tomorrow I get to start shaking, and hope to have nice butter and buttermilk for breakfast. It sure smells good right now too 🙂

  9. Sandra
    December 23, 2014 at 10:28 pm

    Thank you for your posts. I tried the sour cream and the clabber-yogurt. The sour cream did not come out. It had a bitter taste, cheesy taste.
    The yogurt came out and is mild and tasty. We have our own cow, so we have extra milk. That’s why I’m trying to make these recipes. I will keep trying, till I figure it out.

  10. Cat
    January 27, 2015 at 12:42 am

    Sorry you had no luck, in climates where the temperature is cooler sometimes it takes longer while a hotter and more humid climate things may go really quickly. I hope it works better for you in the future!

  11. j london
    March 19, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    remember … your source of milk varies … by the cow , & by what the cow eats … a batch of weeds can really produce some bitter milk …
    … also ( my theory ) ,,, the “Ultra Pasturized” milk … seems harder to ferment .. I use 1/2 & 1/2 ( raw = unavailable) … seems to work better …
    …. the “Whole D … ultra pasteurized” seems to inhibit growth … and smells unpleasant …
    … my batches seem to vary wildly … as do my starters ( just break capsules of probiotic into milk & leave at room temp (24-30 hrs) or in the oven at 100 for 8 hrs …

  12. Sally
    July 11, 2016 at 1:13 pm

    Can you clabber your raw milk and just drink it as is??? Or do you ‘have’ to do something else with it? I don’t really want to use it for cooking with, as the whole reason I am clabbering my raw milk is to consume the beneficial bacteria, which will come from the fermentation of the milk and cooking with it will surely kill this beneficial bacteria?

  13. Cat
    November 17, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    You can drink the sour milk. You can make smoothies with it or make kefir or yogurt.

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