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February 10, 2011


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great post -- love the history behind words!

A lot of raw dairy drinkers and farmers feed their chickens clabber every day. i hear chickens love love it and that its perfect for them, getting them a lot of necessary bacteria they need. I stumbled on this site researchung clabber and how to make it! PS- the web page that i learned about the raw dairy/chicken clabber is googled "keeping a family cow"
Happy Spring!

Bonnie clabber passed into history? Nonsense. It's a twice a day staple of many families on Old Providence and Santa Catalina Islands of Colombia, S. America. The islands (along with San Andres Island) are 300 miles north of Cartagena, Colombia, 150 miles east of the Corn Islands off the east coast of Nicaragua. I stayed on Easter Week with the Archbolds of Sta. Catalina Island, and enjoyed bonnie clabber each day for morning and evening 'tea'. (Middays, we'd eat 'Old Wife'--alewife--fish whose taste is excellent and after taste, repellent, and whose dried skin is used as sandpaper.)

I knew Jay pretty well and fished with him. He was indeed a very special person whom I miss sorely.

At Grandad's, Mrs. J. would set the fresh milk in an enamel pan covered with cheesecloth on a shelf in the pantry to let the cream rise. When the cream was ready, she skimmed it off into the square glass churn. I got to turn the crank to turn the wooden paddles that churned the butter.

Then I watched Mom guzzle the resulting buttermilk. I still make cornbread & biscuits with buttermilk, but commercial whole milk doesn't clabber well, or at least the organisms that result in the clabber often produce a bitter taste instead of the desired sour cream taste.

At Granddad's, clabber was made in small quantities & served with homemade jam, which was a great foil for the sourness, or fed to a sick person, especially one suffering from intestinal problems. And Mom used the expression "ugly enough to turn milk to bonny-clabber"!


Yet another interesting and educational post, especially for this transplant from Colorado. I'm pretty sure this is something that wouldn't suit my taste buds, but I still loved reading and learning about it ... and clearly it is something new to me. Have a beautiful, blessed Monday ... and Happy Valentine's Day.

I've never heard of it.
And I'm with you, I'm not sure I would eat it either.

I enjoyed this post, but as a mix of English, Irish and Scot, I am compelled to remind everyone that if you refer to someone from Scotland as "Scotch", he or she may remind you that Scotch is a drink, not a people. People from Scotland are Scots or of Scottish descent. Many of the so-called Scots-Irish (the proper term, not Scotch-Irish), may even bristle at this term. Some of them have no love for the Irish, so prefer to be called Ulster Scots, so that their heritage is not associated with Ireland, although their ancestors may have found themselves living there (in Ulster).

Since I descend from all three in my Dad's family, I should somehow be feuding with myself, but I manage to get along!

Haven't heard any thing about clabber for a long long time we used to eat it all time back in the 50's Mom made it as often as she could, she always called it clabber cheese I had never had cottage cheese which I think is the new style of clabber cheese, I do not remember all the other stuff she made but remember some as you jog my memory every now and then.

Tipper my Mammaw had a cupboard with a flour bin and pull down front in the kitchen. When she wanted to clabber the milk she would put it in the cupboard and pull down the front and say now leave that alone "chillern". Well of course we would sneak to taste it but only till it reached a certain point in the process of becoming clabbered... My brother always wanted to be first so when he made a face that would stop a clock I knew it was no longer a thing I wanted to taste!!!!!!!!.. SANDI.

This has been so interesting..so
this evening I dug out my 1887
White House Cookbook to try and find a reference or recipe for bonny-clabber..I keep my two editions on my kitchen book shelf..this will make sense later..
The only thing I found was a recipe for Slip..The book describes it thus: "Slip is bonny-clabber without its acidity, and so delicate is its flavor that many persons like it just as well as ice cream." It goes on to give the recipe..and that it should be made only a few hours before it is to be used or it will be tough and watery. It must be served, it says, with powered sugar, nutmeg and cream...
Since it referenced bonny-clabber, I looked for a previous recipe before the Slip recipe..the only recipe was for
Curds and Cream? Could this be the (sophisticated) White House Cookbooks term for bonny-clabber?
At this time I am searching for some of my older cookbooks in hopes to find bonny-clabber. They are stored in boxes in never-never-land so I will have to hunt them...LOL
Thanks for getting me started on this project...LOL

Around here, sour milk is 'blinky' (pronounced 'blanky' and clabber is the milk that's thickened in the churn and ready to be churned.

My Granny Salmons always "clabbered" milk before churning. I wish that I could find buttermilk that good today.

Being raised in the country, we ate everything on a hog and cow and everything on a chicken but the feet--one of my grandfathers even liked chicken feet. And of course, they loved buttermilk, sour milk, and clabber. I have been unable to this day to use any milk though, that's not fresh. More power to you if you like it.

My Mama let her milk sour to a clabber so the buttermilk would be more sour. I would take a spoon and get a tiny bit to eat just before she poured into the dasher churn. Then, she would let me set my spoon up against the dasher handle so it would fill with the liquid as the process of churning continued to the best buttermilk and butter anyone could ever have. Clabber in my house referred to any milk too thick to drink. My prayers are with Mr. Henderson's family.

This is only the second time I've ever heard of this dish. My first husband's grandmother once described an ear infection, during which the eardrum ruptured and a substance resembling "clabbered milk" seeped out of the ear. Not a very good endorsement for clabber!

My mother made homemade butter, buttermilk and cottage cheese when I was growing up. I loved it all....not sure if any of it was what is being described here as bonnie clabber. She would put cream that was skimmed off of fresh cows milk in a churn and then she would pull a dasher up and down in the cream until it would form curds. Some of it was used as buttermilk and some was set to form butter.

Remember Clabber Girl Baking powder? Name must come from clabber. Does it still exist? I remember it because my cousin used to call me Clabber Girl for some unknown reason.

We never had anything but buttermilk 7 I think they let the whole milk "clabber" before churning. This is different from what I read about now--seems most just use cream to make butter. Mama & Granny never made cottage cheese, etc. but my husband's Granny did.

When we were young Mother used to fix what she called "clabbered milk". She loved it-or seemed to. Nobody else ever acquired a taste for it so she eventually stopped doing it. I hadn't thought of it in years. Now cornbread and buttermilk is a different story entirely! That's just high-class eating!

Today's post was very interesting. I guess the closest we've come to bonnie clabber is cottage cheese or buttermilk.

That was a very interesting post Tipper. I don't think clabber would be my cup of tea either.

When I was little there was a baking powder called Clabber Girl. I wonder if it was named after clabber?

Tipper--Lots of research here, although I have to wonder, as someone still in the recovery mode from "professing," whether he looked at the first and most obvious source for words (and examples of their earliest usage), the "Oxford English Dictionary." I don't have it in my library, but I did check to see if the phrase was covered in our mountain equivalent, the "Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English." It was and is defined as "Milk that has soured and begun to thicken and curdle. Same as clabber, the more common term." If you look under clabber in this wonderful reference work, you will find lots of examples of uses for the word clabber--as both a noun and a verb. For all of you who read this blog, the above-mentioned book covering Appalachian language and the way we talk in the mountains is invaluable (in fact, when I first saw Tipper's vocabulary tests, I wrongly assumed it was her source). Of course it is out of print and costs a minor fortune, but there is good news. A new edition is scheduled sometime in the next year or two. Tipper has written about it before, and maybe she can give a reference to her blog on the Dictionary.
Jim Casada

B-thanks for the comment : ) Yes I think you're right about the skim milk.

Blind Pig The Acorn

Music, Giveaways, Mountain Folk

All at www.blindpigandtheacorn.com

Great post...loved it Tipper
I have never eaten clabber unless you count the time blinked milk got poured in my coffee..ewwww.
I have heard my Grandmother talk of clabber when churning...
Something to the effect, "Thats set out long enough I don't want to make clabber." My Dad never would eat cottage cheese, he said it reminded him of eating clabber when he was a kid? Sooo, now I wonder if he was speaking of Bonnie Clabber...He couldn't talk of it without getting sick to his stomach..Mom never told him if she used cottage cheese in a recipe either. LOL
The recipe using skim milk, I believe would not be speaking of the skim milk of today...only skimmed of the top cream..don't you think?
Thanks Tipper

Thanks for sharing this post!I so appreciate Mr. Henderson's meticulous research into word origins and the history of this particular 'delicacy'.I have always heard of clabber. To this day, one of my Mother's favorite treats is cornbread crumbled up into buttermilk and eaten with a spoon. Could this be a handed down version of the 'bonny clabber'?
When my son was little, she asked if he wanted to try a sip of buttermilk. On that first (and only) taste, he made the most awful face and said, "Pigmilk!"
I agree.

Hey Tipper: If you ain't tried Bonny-Clabber you ain't missed much! I was the 'churner' at my house and the fresh butter was mighty fine! The wooden molds we used to press the butter into a beautiful form was special. But when it came to soured buttermilk I drew the line! But my mama
never threw it away - she just put it into her flour to make mighty fine bikettes! Those are a form of bread you eat with sausage gravy!!!

Eva Nell

you may be interested in Ms. Sullivan's version of cheese made in the tradition of bonny clabber.

I've only tried clabber once as a child and was not my cup of tea. But my mother loved it. She would set the milk out in the sun and let it clabber then drink it. Lord how is she still alive.

My Granddaddy in rural Kentucky ate clabber. That is all I ever heard it called. He even had a special spoon just for it. I never could force myself to try it, although I loved Granny's homemade cottage cheese.

How interesting -- I'm sorry that I did not get an opportunity to read Jay's blog while he was still with us. He must have been a fascinating man.

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