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)