Getting the Most Out of Raw Milk
Did you know that raw milk never goes bad? That's right, it never goes bad! Pasteurized milk from the stores goes bad, but not raw milk.
Instead, it just changes!
One thing it can do is go "sour" but that isn't a bad thing. Have you seen recipes that call for buttermilk or "soured" milk? With many bread, biscuit or pancake recipes the need for a more sour milk is called for and makes for an excellent taste and texture.
Another thing the milk can do is become clabbered. Clabbered is when the milk starts to become gel-like and starts to become more like a yogurt consistency. How do you get clabbered milk? Just take your raw milk and sit it out on the counter for a few days and it will become more like a yogurt all by itself. The milk will become more tart over 3 or 5 days and the longer it sits the more sour it will become. While it won't be sweet anymore it still won't be disgusting to eat, just a bit tart but not bad. It is like a nice yogurt, a little tangy and sour but quite good to eat.
When this happens to raw milk it may become too tart eventually, but it is not bad for us! Many still believe that raw milk is dangerous but this simply isn't true. What is dangerous is the pasteurized milk that we buy in the stores. We really have no idea if it has gone bad or not. If pasteurized milk does go bad it is because of outside contaminants which were allowed to grow unconstrained due to the killing of all of the good bacteria through the pasteurization process. In today's world, we have great sanitary opportunities when we milk cows and we have learned how to use these skills to ensure our buckets and other supplies are kept very clean. Because of this, we do not need to pasteurize milk, we just need to be clean when we are collecting and bottling the milk.
Raw milk that has clabbered contains a lot of probiotics, the good bacteria that we need for a healthy gut.
Years ago, before refrigeration, it was a common practice to keep milk sweet for a short time and then just sit it out for it to clabber and be made into cheese and other healthy items.
We use our raw milk that has been clabbered and then strained off to make both whey and cream cheese. We can make a wonderful cream cheese spread just by sitting our milk out on the counter for a week and then straining it!
Whey is the clear liquid that drains off of the clabbered milk when strained. The remaining milk/yogurt that is collected is the cheese. It really is that simple!
Depending on the warmth of your kitchen and the amount of probiotics (good bacteria) in the milk, a clabber can develop in 3 to 5 days or a bit longer. We simply start a clabber by leaving the milk out on the counter. Doing this it can develop different flavors because it takes so long to develop and inoculate those bacteria. One way to speed this process up is by using some clabbered milk you have made in the past. Simply take a spoonful of some clabbered milk you have left to sit on the counter for 5 to 7 days, and add that spoonful to a fresh jar of milk. By using a culture from the original jar to start a new one, you speed up the culturing process and will have a more consistent flavor and a faster end result.
It is so simple! Just like making yogurt, adding some of one culture to start a new one will jump start it to culturing in as little as 24 to 48 hours, and you get an even better flavor.
What to do once you get a clabber?
Once your milk is clabbered enough, just put it in the refrigerator and keep it at that same level of sourness and that stops the culturing or slows it down for another week or two. It won't go bad. It will never poison someone, it can keep there until it has cultured too much and you no longer want to eat it.
From there you can use it to make whey and to make cream cheese. By pouring the clabbered milk into a cheese cloth and draining it for about 48 hours, you will be able to get two useful products from it. (Muslin cloth - a true cheese cloth - is the best for this purpose but I was without any so I used a LOT of layers of a winder woven cheese cloth. Really this is too widely woven to do a great job but in this case it is what I had to use.)