Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Clabber and Bonnyclabber

I like eating clabber. I like making clabber. I even like sound of the word clabber. It’s a word that’s kind of archaic and rather obscure. I’m always waiting for it to come up in a crossword puzzle. It hasn’t yet. The American Heritage Dictionary on my shelf defines clabber as follows; clabber n. sour, curdled milk. –tr. & intr.v. –bered, -bering, -bers. To curdle.[Short for obs. bonnyclabber < Gael. bainne clabair : bainne + clabar, thick sour milk.]
Many of us are more familiar with a Turkish word for a type of clabber. It’s called yogurt. It’s the type clabber I made yesterday and had for breakfast this morning with some fruit. It’s not the only type of clabber, but it’s the only one I’ve ever made. Different bacteria make different types of clabbers.
On a yogurt container you might read that it’s “a cultured milk product”. I like the word clabber better. It’s less scientific, more agrarian, but I suppose it would really confuse people to pick up a container of yogurt and read “XYZ yogurt, a clabber”. If I owned a yogurt company I’d call my yogurt Bonnyclabber Yogurt. Even though it’s redundant it sounds cheerful.
The word clabber definitely sounds so much better than curdled milk and is actually more concise. Curdled milk reminds me of what happens to pasteurized milk that’s kept far too long and actually starts to putrify. It’s a nasty smelly thing. I’ve also heard of another word for clabber. It’s probiotic, a new fangled word for old-fangled clabber

Whether you want to call it clabber, bonnyclabber, yogurt, a probiotic or a cultured milk product, it’s very easy to make. All you have to add to some milk is heat and certain bacteria. The most commonly used for yogurt is lactobacillus acidophilus. Clabber is also much easier to digest than milk. The bacteria have started to break down the lactose. Most of us can not digest lactose as well as we could as infants so it’s nice that those little bacteria are doing it for us.

There are special yogurt makers available, but they are for convenience, not necessity. The way I made my clabber was to 1. Heat milk to 180F for a few seconds to kill off other bacteria in it. 2. Cool milk to about 115F. 3. Add a large spoonful of plain yogurt whose container says it has active cultures. Keep it warm at about 100 – 115F. After some hours it will set, and voila it’s bonnyclabber. I kept it warm using an electric skillet rigged as a double boiler. The skillet lets me keep the temperature just right. There are many other methods that might work better for you.

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