Good Food Reads

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Clabbered What? Cheese? Sour Cream? Cultured Butter?

Clabbered Raw Milk, Raw Cottage Cheese and
The Best Sour Cream and Cultured Butter You've Ever Had

So you may be wondering what clabbered milk is and why one would want it and what would one do with it. As usual, I provide the dollar answer to the nickel question so get comfy.

Clabbered milk is the spontaneous separation of the milk curd and the milk liquid (whey) in raw milk left at room temperature for a few, up to several days. The lactic acid producing bacteria that exist in raw milk proliferate. The resulting build up of acidity...

causes the milk to separate - much like adding lemon juice to regular milk only this happens more slowly.

Clabbered Milk
Nourishing Traditions, a book by Sally Fallon, got me started on this. She has a recipe for a cottage cheese made from clabbered milk (though I think she calls it cream cheese). The by-product of that process is the liquid whey that is used to soak grains or lacto-ferment food. So...I clabbered milk (the first time took 7 days) and strained it through a cheesecloth. It was SOUR and disgusting. I kept reading that raw milk 'sours' instead of going bad but it was very sour and to my palate - very bad. My family would never eat it - I couldn't talk myself into it. Then I read somewhere that the first clabbering is quite sour and that it would become less so with repeated clabbering as the colony and yeast and bacteria got stronger. To do this, I took a start off my first clabbering and added more fresh raw milk. It clabbered quicker and was, as promised, less sour but still unpleasant. I did it a third and fourth time and voila, it clabbered in 48 hours and had a slight pleasant tang. Now I keep a clabbered milk 'start' much like a sourdough start. I add fresh raw milk to it and let it sit out. If I don't have an immediate need, I store it in the fridge.

Raw Cottage Cheese
Encouraged by the pleasant smell of the clabbered milk I strained this through a cheesecloth and tried again to make fresh raw cottage cheese. I hung it in cheesecloth and let it drip for several hours. By that time, the smell and taste had gotten stronger. When I removed it from the cheese cloth it had developed a rind on the exterior so the whey from the center wasn't dripping through. As a result, it was still too wet on the inside and, again, after tasting, too strong. I threw it out.

Then I watched a video on cheesemaking. The woman rinsed her cheese in cold water by dipping the ball of cheese still hanging in the cheesecloth in a bowl of ice water to rinse off any remaining whey (the whey is the strong stuff). That was the epiphane. I tried again by taking my non sour clabbered milk and putting it in a cheesecloth. This time, instead of just hanging it and letting it drip, I hung it up while constantly pulling up sides and rolling it around in the hanging cheesecloth so it wouldn't develop a rind and continually drip. This takes a decent 20-30 minutes for a gallon of clabbered milk and is quite heavy. Then I took the remaining ball, still wrapped in cheesecloth, and dipped it in a bowl of ice water to rinse it. Then I repeated the process of moving it around and letting it drain again. This time it only took another few minutes. Once it looked like it was firm enough, I put the ball of curds in a bowl with some salt and mixed. It was, surprisingly, very tasty. I am sure you could use it for cream cheese but it really tasted and seemed to me more like a cottage cheese. Nevertheless, I was pleased. My favorite way to eat it is with bottled peaches - lots of sugar, I know, it's slightly on the forbidden list but it will have to do until the fresh tomatoes are ready to harvest. Grocery store tomatoes just remind me of when my brother when as a child, used to ask me if I wanted Kool-Aid and would give it to me without sugar just to tease me. Nasty.

Sour Cream & Cultured Butter
This was a pleasant accident. Sour cream has alluded me. I tried a mail-order culture with my raw cream and it was good but didn't thicken until it got too sour. I tried a store-bought brand of sour cream and added that to my raw cream and let it sit out and, again, by the time it was creamy and thick, too sour. I also wanted to try cultured butter to see if my milk allergy daughter could do cultured milk products. (She had a violent reaction to raw milk; diarrhea, vomiting and eczema but tolerates my waffles made with clabbered milk and whole wheat flour soaked overnight.)

Instead of using a mesophilic starter culture, I used a few tablespoons of my clabbered milk in a half gallon of raw cream. I checked it at 12 hours and it was still runny. At 24 hours it looked beautiful like heavenly pillows of creamy deliciousness. I didn't have time to churn then, so I put it in the fridge until the next morning. Food Snob and I tasted it and it was great - not too sour and the consistency....mmmm. This is our new sour cream. Awesome! We poured it out to churn it into butter and the texture changed as we got closer to the bottom. It was more like clabbered milk or cottage cheese - a little lumpy. We stopped pouring. We tasted. That was a little more sour so we didn't include it in the butter. We churned for about 20 minutes and it broke. We strained the buttermilk and kneaded the butter until the buttermilk was out rinsing all the while with cold water. Actually, I just like to knead a handful with my hands under a trickle of cold water from the sink until it squishes clear. Then we salted it and spread it on homemade bread. It was much lighter in color than the sweet cream butter I have made and more complex in flavor. I finally know why people rave about cultured butter. It was great. We tested it beside a nice brand of store-bought butter and the store-bought butter fell flat.

Clarified Butter or Ghee side note
I made ghee a few months ago by following the instructions from a man on Youtube. I made it out of sweet cream raw butter and it was tasty. It even smelled like caramel. I know this cooks the butter and kills the enzymes but it also removes all the milk proteins which are hard to digest - another option for my milk allergy daughter.

The Chemist

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