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Clabber for Cheesemaking

Making your own cheese at home can be a rewarding and enjoyable hobby. The most common cheese making results from commercial cultures.  However recently I have been experimenting with a traditional style of making cheese using a clabber starter.

Commercial starter cultures are standardized combinations of bacteria that are added to milk to begin the fermentation process. They provide consistency and predictable results, making them popular for commercial cheese production. These starter cultures are selected to produce specific flavors, textures, and aromas in the cheese, and they help to prevent the growth of unwanted bacteria.

On the other hand, clabber is a more traditional method that relies on naturally occurring lactic acid bacteria present in the environment to sour the milk. This method is slower and less predictable than using commercial starter cultures, as the composition of the bacteria in clabber can vary depending on factors such as temperature and location. Clabber may result in a more complex flavor profile due to the mixture of bacteria involved, and it is often associated with artisanal and homemade cheese production.

Here are some tips for keeping a clabber starter for cheesemaking.

To begin, you'll need to acquire a good quality clabber starter culture. This can often be sourced from specialty cheesemaking stores or reputable online suppliers. You can also make your own at home using raw milk.  Once you have your starter culture, it's important to keep it in a cool, dark place, ideally in the refrigerator. Ensure that it is stored in an airtight container to prevent contamination from other bacteria.


When it comes to maintaining your clabber starter, it's essential to feed and refresh it regularly. This involves adding fresh raw milk to the starter to keep the bacterial culture active and healthy. Depending on the temperature of your home, this may need to be done daily or weekly. By regularly feeding and refreshing your clabber starter, you will ensure that it remains potent and active for your cheesemaking endeavors.


It's also important to monitor the aroma and texture of your clabber starter. A healthy clabber starter should have a pleasant, tangy aroma and a smooth, creamy texture. If you notice any off-putting odors or unusual textures, it may be a sign that the culture has become contaminated or is no longer active.


Keeping a clabber starter for cheesemaking involves proper storage, regular feeding, and attentive monitoring. With the right care and attention, your clabber starter will provide you with the essential bacterial culture needed to produce delicious homemade cheese.  Want to know more?  We love to be a resource so please reach out with any questions!

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