How to Cook With Goat's Milk: The Clabbering Process
By Dokos Cuddy
Learn how to cook with goat’s milk, the milk can be used instead of cow’s milk and substituted in most everyday recipes.
Goat Milk Recipes
How to Cook With Goat’s Milk: The Clabbering Process
Our “happy homestead herd” of goats provides us with so much raw milk for drinking and cooking, that — for several months now — I’ve been experimenting with different ways of how to cook with goat’s milk. My most interesting investigation, I feel, has centered around clabbering (the process whereby raw milk separates naturally into curds and whey) and I’ve come up with some results that would have improved Little Miss Muffet’s diet considerably.
As you probably know, fats — in the form of shortenings and heavy cow’s cream, creamed cheese, and butter — traditionally have been used in baked goods because of the rich taste and fine texture they impart. But alas they’re also hard to digest, low in nutritive value, and laced with cholesterol. (Cold-pressed oils are more digestible, but their cost has risen alarmingly and they generally produce a poorer texture in baked items.)
Goat’s milk, however, contains such small fat globules that the fluid is practically homogenized as it comes from the animal. This makes goat’s milk very easy to digest. Furthermore, the curd from clabbered goat’s milk also contains these molecules of fat plus all the nutritive values of the whole milk, plus lactic acid (the agent present also in buttermilk, yogurt, and sour cream — which produces those tender crusts we all find so delicious). This curd, in fact, can be successfully substituted for any type of cream or other fats in any baking recipe. (Visit the Image Gallery to find a simple chart on how to substitute curd for creams.)
To clabber goat’s milk, you must start with the raw fluid since pasteurization kills the organisms responsible for the clabbering process. If you don’t have your own doe, chances are good nowadays that there’s a farm or store nearby where you can buy goat’s milk (although most states now require grocers to carry only dairy products that have been pasteurized, so you’d better inquire before you buy).
Pour the liquid (you might as well start with a couple of quarts) into a container. I recommend a wide-mouth glass jar, so you can both observe the process and — once it’s complete — remove the curd easily. (If, however, you must use a metal container, be sure it’s either enameled or stainless steel.) Drape a cloth over the top of the jar or pan to keep out foreign matter and set it in a warm, draft-free place where its temperature will stay near 90 degrees Fahrenheit. (Those of you smart enough to do your cookin’ on a wood stove can set the receptacle on the top’s coolest rear corner.)
During the next two days, as the friendly bacteria work on it, the milk will become more and more mottled. Don’t be alarmed, it’s supposed to look that way. On the third or fourth day, depending on how high and consistent the temperature’s been, the curd will coagulate dramatically and resolve into a white mass floating on the bluish whey like cumulus clouds against a summer sky. When the separation is quite distinct, the milk has clabbered.
Carefully slice down through the curd with a large spoon and lift it out from underneath, taking care to disturb it as little as possible. Plop the quivery mass onto a square of muslin (a piece of cheesecloth folded over twice or a clean, old sock also works well), gather up the corners and gently squeeze out the excess whey over the container. Both the solid matter and the liquid should then be put away in a refrigerator or other cool place and used within a few days. To prevent undesirable odors from getting into the curd, store it in a covered vessel. And when you use the clabber, don’t forget to save some — about three tablespoons per quart of milk — to add to the next batch to speed up the souring process.
If you’re wondering what to do with all that whey sitting in the fridge, here are some suggestions:
1. Instead of 1 cup of curd in the biscuit recipe, use 3/4 cup of whey and double the amount of oil.
2. Substitute the fluid for buttermilk in pancakes, waffles, and cakes.
3. Make Norwegian Whey Cheese: Evaporate the liquid left from clabbering over low heat, while you stir it often, until the whey becomes creamy. Then stir the fluid constantly, still over low heat, until it reaches a pasty consistency. Spoon the result into greased bowls or molds and let it cool. When you tip the “cake” out you’ll have a grayish-brown, highly nutritious cheese with a concentrated sweet-sour-salty flavor.
4. Endear yourself to your livestock, it’s nutritious for them, too, and they love it!
That’s all for now. Until I can do some more experimenting happy clabbering!
See the “cooking with clabber” recipes I’ve developed at the top of this article.
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