Monday, 16 November 2015

Clabber Girl – Or Milkmaid?


When we were on holiday in Vermont [was it really 11 years ago?] I was intrigued to see this on sale – and bought it, just because I loved the packaging [it was an unusual holiday souvenir – but remarkably inexpensive!] Apparently clabber girls were the US equivalent of milkmaids. [Sadly the term now has an unfortunate slang definition]Clabber is thickened, curdled milk - something akin to yogurt.

I have been making my own yogurt for ages, by various methods, but have now settled down to regularly using a Salter electric yogurt maker [£5 from Robery Dyas], which I put on overnight, and in the morning have a litre of lovely thick Greek style yogurt.  I use 1 litre of Sainsburys Basics UHT, 1 or 2 tbsp of milk powder [depending on thickness required] and 2 tbsp of yogurt from previous batch. stir it all up, plug in, switch on – and by morning it is all done. The inner pot has a cute little shovel which fits into the lid too.

yogurt and cheese

I reckon that this costs me around 70-75p a litre in total [that is milk, powder, electricity**]. Which is cheaper than the basic stuff from the supermarket. I reserve 2 tbsp for the next batch, then put the remainder, covered in the fridge. We eat this as a dessert – maybe with fruit, a spoonful of jam or honey, a scoop of granola or a sprinkling of nuts, or blob of Nutella. I also use it in recipes requiring yogurt.  But lately I have also been making soft cheese. I cannot eat hard cheese, but this is mild and bland and a usual thing to have around.

yogurt and cheese-001

I put a coffee filter inside my large funnel, which is balanced securely on my Pyrex jug. Spoon some yogurt inside, and leave it to drain. After a remarkably short time, there is cheese in the filter and whey in the jug. The whey gets used in scones or pancake batter, and the cheese has loads of uses – spread on crackers, in brown bread sandwiches with smoked salmon [the cheapo trimmings] used in place of mascarpone in recipes, to enrich sauces…It can be seasoned with salt&pepper, or sugar, depending on the recipe. It is especially good drizzled with sweet chilli sauce. And again, this cheese is a fraction of the price of a tub from the supermarket.

**if I am saving 50p a week on the cost of bought yogurt [we eat a lot] then the machine has already paid for itself.

Finally, one of my favourite pictures – Vermeer’s Milkmaid [btw that thing on the floor behind her is a footwarmer –not a mousetrap!]



  1. I'm very interested in this, as I used to make yogurt years ago. I am curious as to where you buy your milk? Even Tesco is charging 95p a litre at the moment - of which the farmers, of course, only receive around 23p. I expect it's still cheaper than supermarket yoghurt.

    1. Sainbury's Basics Skimmed UHT is 65p a litre- and does not need any pre-heating before it goes into the yogurt maker. Sainsburys website says they pay 70% of price back to the farmers [ie >45p] Tescos website says they pay >39p a litre. But as Hugh FW has shown us recently, the supermarket websites are sometimes a little misleading!!

  2. Sorry - if I'd re-read your post, I'd have seen it was UHT, I was thinking of fresh milk prices. I don't really trust what any of them say they pay their farmers :-( I'll be looking out for a yoghurt maker now as I eat it nearly every day.


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