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Clabber is a food produced by allowing unpasteurized milk to turn sour at a specific humidity and temperature. Over time, the milk thickens or curdles into a yogurt-like substance with a strong, sour flavor. In rural areas of the Southern United States, it was commonly eaten for breakfast with brown sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, or molasses added. Some people also eat it with fruit or black pepper and cream. Prior to the now-popular use of baking soda, clabber was used as a quick leavener in baking. Due to its stability, clabbered milk has been popular in areas without access to steady refrigeration.
Clabber was brought to the South by the Ulster Scots who settled in the Appalachian Mountains. Clabber is still sometimes referred to as bonny clabber (originally "bainne clábair", from Gaelic bainne — milk, and clábair — sour milk). Clabber passed into Scots and Hiberno-English dialects meaning wet, gooey mud, though it is commonly used now in the noun form to refer to the food or in the verb form "to curdle". A German version is called Dickmilch (thick milk), a Scandinavian filmjölk. In France, a similar food made from cream is known as crème fraîche.
Clabber was sometimes served with a specialized spoon. This is a serving utensil formed with the handle made at a 90 degree angle from the spoon bowl, to accommodate the manner in which clabber had to be ladled out of the container in which it formed.
With the rise of pasteurization the making of clabber virtually stopped, except on farms that had easy access to unprocessed cow's milk. A somewhat similar food can be made from pasteurized milk by adding a couple of tablespoons of commercial buttermilk or sour milk to a glass of milk.
- "Word of Mouth: Clabber". The Kitchn. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- "What Is Clabbered Milk?". wisegeek.com. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
- "Bonnyclabber - Definition of bonnyclabber by Merriam-Webster". merriam-webster.com. Retrieved 27 May 2015.
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