20 Ways to Use Sour Raw Milk

sour milk clabber

I wasn’t very far into my real food journey the first time I heard the term “clabber.”

My initial thought was, “What the heck is that?” So I promptly headed to Google to check it out.

It’s amazing how something that was so common a hundred years ago is so unheard of today…

Clabber is basically thickened, sour, raw milk. Part of the reason that we don’t use the term anymore is because store-bought, pasteurized milk doesn’t clabber. It just putrefies and turns nasty. So, clabber is definitely an old-fashioned concept for most folks.

If the word sounds familiar to you, it might be because it’s the name of a popular brand of baking powder. Back in the day, women would keep clabbered milk as a natural leavening agent for baked goods. Clabber is acidic, like buttermilk, so it reacts with baking soda to produce fluffy cakes and quick breads.

However, once baking powder was introduced, clabber wasn’t as necessary. But one manufacturer of baking powder, Hulman & Company, chose to name their product Clabber Baking Powder (Clabber Girl) to help consumers understand how to use it.

So there is your history lesson for the day. 😉

As you know, I’m a big fan of raw milk for many reasons, but I especially love the fact that it doesn’t go “bad” like pasteurized milk does. Once raw milk sours, it can still be used for a whole bunch of different things, unlike the cooked stuff which must be thrown out once it turns sour.

Raw milk goes through varying stages as it sours. It starts off by slowly decreasing in sweetness each day it sits in the fridge, and if you leave it long enough, it will eventually separate into curds and whey.

Soured raw milk will maintain a “pleasantly” sour taste and smell. Now, I’m not saying that you will want to drink it straight (although some folks do), but it shouldn’t make you want to throw up when you open the lid. (If it does, toss it!)

raw milk sour milk

So, next time you end up with a gallon or two of clabber, don’t pour it down the drain– put it to good use instead:

**VERY IMPORTANT** The following ideas are only to be used with RAW milk that has soured. Do NOT attempt to use soured pasteurized milk– it is not the same and should be thrown away.

20 Ways to Use Sour (Raw) Milk

1. Make chocolate cake- use the clabber in place of the milk or buttermilk in the recipe.

2. Use it to make buttermilk biscuits (in place of the buttermilk).

3. Make zucchini bread or banana bread.

4. Add it to yeast breads or rolls.

5. Make delicious homemade waffles or pancakes.

6. Make muffins for breakfast or snacks.

7. Use it as a base for your smoothies.

8. Soak chicken or fish in sour milk to help tenderize the meat.

9. Use it as the base for a homemade marinade.

10. Use it to soak grains, Nourishing Traditions style.

11. Add it to casseroles or soups.

12. Add a little sweetener and cocoa powder to make homemade chocolate milk. (I’d do this before it starts to really separate.)

13. Make homemade pudding.

14. Feed it to your chickens, pigs, or dogs. (It’s really good for them, too!)

15. Dilute it with water, and add to your garden.

16. Use it to make homemade milk kefir

17. Dilute it with water, and give it to your tomato plants.

18. Add it to your bath- add some essential oils if you don’t care for the smell.

19. Use it as a substitute for recipes that call for buttermilk, yogurt, or sour cream.

20. Make your own whey and clabber cheese. (And once you have your homemade whey, here are 16 Things to do with Whey)

Have other ideas how to use clabber? Share them in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!

Other Posts for Dairy-Lovers:

This post was shared at Frugally Sustainable



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  1. Lillian Hughes says

    I am told that sour raw milk that is too bad to drink can be put on the garden – plants love it and bugs hate it!

  2. Amy Boyd says

    Hi there, I have just this afternoon made some awesome pikelets (you might call them drop scones?) for the children’s afternoon tea, as well as using soured cream and buttermilk for a lovely Ginger Bread Cake. Delicious; such good cooking!

    I was wondering if you could expand on the sour pasturised milk issue, as that’s our only option in supermarkets, even though Tasmania, Australia produces wonderful milk. The best (still pasturised ) milk has has soured without being aweful to smell, so I’ve used it. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    I’ve been enjoying your blog the most out of anyones I’ve ever read, as I have really been growing in my real food journey, seeking God’s best for our children’s sustenance and our daily food habits too. Thanks so much for the time you put into it; it’s great to see your creativity and practicality. Thanks.

    • says

      So happy that you’ve been enjoying the blog Amy!

      When milk is pasteurized, most, if not all, of the beneficial bacteria it contains is killed. These bacteria are what allows it to sour naturally and eventually turn into curds and whey. However, if those bacteria aren’t present, the milk just ends up going rotten.

      So, I supposed it would depend on what type of pasteurization your milk has had– (some milks are low-temp heated, while some in the US are Ultra Heat Treated, which basically makes them sterile). But, I’d still be very careful. :)

      • Lin says

        I feed clabbered milk to my chickens. I do use store milk and I put in 1/2 ice cube of frozen lemon. Sometimes I just let it sit in the shed. The smell is not any worse than smelling cottage cheeese and my chickens love it. I know you explained clabbered is a raw milk thing (I came from the farm) but this is just what happens to my store. The dogs would eat it if I let them but the chickens go nuts when it is mixed with oatmeal.

  3. Joni says

    I’ve just gotten a yogurt starter from cultures for health; is it ok to use clabber to make my yogurt? Just the slightly sour kind, not the completely separated kind. I was so glad to see this post in my mailbox this morning because my husband and I have been getting raw milk for the past few months, and it has happened more often than I like that the milk turns before we can drink it and I’ve been so frustrated at dumping it for lack of knowledge as to how to use it!

    • Lucy says

      If your raw milk is going sour fast it may not be really healthy milk from healthy cows. I milk my own cows and the milk has been still drinkable after 6 weeks. I do store it in glass which makes a huge difference. Maybe you could put into glass when you get it.

      • Valerie says

        I agree Lucy and I’m curious about my raw goat milk that basically keeps for weeks and then I’ve had a random jar go sour 2 random times!?! Even if another jar from the same day doesn’t! I generally don’t have the space to keep milk around for long but sometimes as occasional jar gets pushed to the back in rotation and it will smell like it was milked yesterday!

        • Lucy says

          The only thing I could think of is that that odd jar is not quite clean – maybe just a tiny bit around the rim, or even not quite dry enough. I wash my bottles in hot soapy water, rinse REALLY well and then place in the oven to dry – just on about 100C. I put the lids on when they are completely dry to keep them clean. If the lid is not quite dry enough, the bottle will sweat a bit, so I know that I need to re-wash! I think if you are storing raw milk, cleanliness is so important! And I agree, my milk doesn’t usually last long enough to go off!

  4. Elle J says

    I am so glad to learn that I don’t have to worry about wasting my raw milk as it gets down to the bottom of the jar and gets a little sour! These ideas are great to know. I am wondering if it can be frozen for later use, or if freezing reduces the leavening effect?

      • Elle J says

        Wonderful! I just froze some in ice trays so I can store the cubes for later use in recipes. I found that 7 cubes = approx one cup milk in my trays.
        Yay! Thanks for all the wonderful information. I really look forward to it!

  5. says

    I have enjoyed reading your blog more than any others! These tips are great and I was completely ignorant of them before finding your blog. I can’t wait until I can start using them! I’m also writing about my journey as I learn new things for homemaking and homesteading on Natural Made Simple. I just started it so any tips you may have would be great! Thanks!

    • says

      Congrats on your new blog! My best tips for bloggers are to network, network, network! And write posts that are easy for people to use and share. :)

  6. Becky says

    How long does it take to have your milk turn into clabber? I have drank raw milk my entire 40 years and didn’t know about this! Interesting. A gallon of milk only lasts a day at our house – so would have to hide some milk to make clabber!

  7. says

    I was also wondering how long it took to clabber in the Frigerator and then how long will it last after it clabbered. Funny we have been milkingcows and goats and we have turkeys and chickens that drink the left over milk. We let that milk clabber before giving it to them. We leave it outside to do that. Never thought I could let it clabber in the frig and use it. Love this…I didn’t know that we were clabbering after all. Thanks for all the raw milk information!

    • says

      It really depends– sometimes it takes about 10 days in the fridge, and sometimes a lot longer! Leaving it on the counter is definitely the easiest way if you are in a hurry.

  8. says

    My Grandma taught me about clabbered milk. I do it just the way our family used to do it in the old days except I use a low temp oven instead of the warming rack of a cook stove. I keep the milk around 100 degrees and in about 24-36 it is separated. Then I strain it and we love it spread on our homemade bread. It is also good added to sauteed onions; just add it to your helping and mix it in. Sometimes we sweeten it with honey or mix in some herbs. We love it!

  9. Sandra Beaudry says

    Where can a person find raw milk.? I was raised on raw milk in Virginia. I now live in Colorado & can’t seem to find it anywhere. I would love to be able to buy it & make my own cheese, butter, ect. like my grand ma did when I was a child.

  10. Karen says

    I froze my slightly soured raw milk in ice cube trays & then used it to make home-made soap! It’s still curing, but I’m very excited to try it as it feels quite luxurious! I still have some in the freezer, I might use it in soap or maybe I’ll try one of the suggestions here. Thanks for all the great tips. My family is new to raw milk & my boys are having varied reactions to the change in milk (from pretty laid back & accepting to running out & buying “regular” 2%) so I always worry that it might go to waste. They are 16 yrs and up, so, they really can’t be pushed too much either way. I’m confident they’ll eventually adjust & enjoy!

  11. irene says

    Hi, was wondering if you could give me some insight… I have some soured milk in my fridge that I was hoping to use, but when I took it out there is a brownish residue on top the cream layer. The glass bottle it is in has a very narrow neck so it is difficult for me get a really close look. Could something be growing on it? It was at the back of my fridge, which is usually cold enough to freeze whatever I put back there, so I don’t understand how that would happen. Everything I read about raw milk says it doesn’t go “bad”, so what happened?
    Thanks for any info you can offer

    • says

      What does it smell like? A sour smell is ok– a putrid smell that makes you run for the toilet is not. 😉 Sometimes when my milk becomes really, really sour, it’ll separate and the whey on top will be slightly brownish. Usually when it gets to that point, I usually give it to my chickens. But, that’s not to say you couldn’t use it.

  12. JenL says

    Would these ideas also apply to (quite a bit of) skimmed cream that you *ahem* left unattended in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks???? (We had sickness and other issues that interrupted by butter making schedule.) It tasted so different than my cultured cream I use for butter. Good? Bad? Give it to the pigs?

  13. Cindy says

    Hi. I found my bag of raw curdled milk (lots going on and I forgot all about it) in the fridge. It is at least 2 months old,,,maybe longer. I want to know if it should just be thrown out or is it still okay to use for something. Thanks for your help

  14. Janet says

    My mother has always used sour goat milk to help “eat” her septic waste. The bacteria that is in sour milk is supposed to be better than any store bought products (according to mom).

  15. Seija says

    Once you have clabbered the milk… how do you store it for use? And do you separate the clabbered milk from the whey (that is the watery substance correct?) I am all new to this but love that my raw milk doesn’t have to go to waste! Great post!

    • says

      I store mine in my fridge– you can separate the curds, if you wish (some folks even make a sort of cheese out of it), or you can leave it all together. :)

  16. Gail says

    Gee, Jill. All this is starting to come together. We’ve been drinking raw goat/cow milk, as well as the yogurt, keifer, and cheese. Recently learned how to make my own keifer, and now with your post, can take it a step further for clabbered milk. Thanks so much for all your helpful posts!

  17. Anne says

    How do you get past the smell? Soured milk and butter stink. My kids won’t touch it, especially if it is heated or put on warm toast. Even our cornbread made with raw soured milk has quite an odor to it!

  18. JENNIFER says

    I am raising 14 heritage Berkshire hogs and found an article about feeding expired milk to hogs as a supplement to feed. With a bit of persistence, I succeeded in finding a great source – and they love it!! Yeah for raw milk. Now that I have this article, I have more uses.

  19. Elizabeth Ryan says

    Hi. I ran across your blog because I have a larger quantity of sour milk than I usually get, so I wanted to cook with it. I usually just use it on my cereal. In the State of Ohio it is illegal to sell Raw Milk but our co-op sells local gently pasteurized non-homogenized milk in returnable glass bottles. Because it is not homogenized the cream separates out and it will sour. Sometimes the cream just separates out but sometimes it does what you call clabber. So I learned something new. The milk I have now is clabbered, which is odd on cereal. So I am thinking maybe it is whether it is homogenized or not, that is more important than whether it is pasteurized or perhaps what kind of pasteurization. I have been using sour milk from this company for years with no ill effects.

  20. Caryn Hastings says

    Thank you so much for your website, as it is so helpful to know what to do with the raw milk I get from my local farmer.
    I want to make pudding, tapioca or chocolate and I do not want to boil the milk to destroy the good bacteria. Is there a way to make it without boiling? Or is that a bad thing in the first place? Maybe boil just enough with the tapioca and add the raw milk? Up to what temp can I bring the milk, before the good bacteria is destroyed?
    You are so kind to help all of us amateur cooks.
    Bless you

  21. Penny says

    I feed clabbered milk to my chickens for almost a year now. They LOVE it! A month ago I decided to clabber what was left after we separated the milk, hoping to use a ‘waste product’ rather than the whole milk. The curds get very spongy, literally rubbery – unlike the soft curds when I clabber whole milk. I added 1/3 of a gallon of whole milk to 3 gals of separated milk – thinking maybe there was not enough cream for soft curds – I get more curds, but the texture is still pretty rubbery. Any ideas on why the curds are rubbery, & am I creating a product that is not good for my chickens. I have never seen discussion on this subject of clabbering separated milk, hoping someone has run across this & figured it out. :-)

    • says

      My hens love clabber too! Sometimes my curds are more rubbery than others–but I think they are probably just fine. I’ve clabbered skimmed milk many times.