Clabbering buttermilk: pungent, bitter smell reminiscent of spoiled pasteurized milk that makes me feel ill. Is it bad? What happened?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 22, 2013 at 12:09 AM

This is my first time receiving raw buttermilk (or raw dairy of any sort) from a farm.

The raw milk, raw cream, and even kefir (though this was a bit pungent in an odd way, too -- smelled similar to a cow's musk when the milk and cream didn't at all) were all tasty and made me feel quite good, especially after they'd soured some.

But, the buttermilk came pungent and bitter-smelling. I felt bad immediately after every one of 3-6 times I tried to take a sip. I tried clabbering it at 70-100 (is hot here) degrees Farenheit overnight (covered in plastic jug with a few layers of toilet paper tied around the top), hoping that perhaps the whey would at least be useful for future ferments, and it's puffed up quite a bit into spongy-textured, soft white cheese-like substance, and a greyish liquid. But, it is more pungent now, and I still do not feel good after sampling the whitish curd. [Edit: The smell was familiar, and I now recall why: it is somehow reminiscent of spoiled pasteurized milk.]

[Edit: I had also left 1-2 of 3 jugs of buttermilk out for a few hours 24 hours before attempting to clabber it.]

Did I do something wrong? Is the buttermilk bad? Am I simply unaccustomed to buttermilk? (I've only ever tasted real buttermilk when making butter from the raw cream, and the buttermilk had a similar bitter taste/questionable feeling after drinking before the cream had soured but tasted delicious and slightly sweet/sour like yogurt when made from soured cream. But the farm-made buttermilk seems to smell worse and make me feel significantly more not-so-good than even the slightly bitter buttermilk from my first attempt at sweet cream.

Is it something else entirely?



on July 22, 2013
at 12:59 AM

Trust your taste and sense of smell when it comes to dairy, always. Especially if you felt bad after having some!

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on July 22, 2013
at 08:25 PM

Clabbered milk has a pleasant, clean smell IMHO. If it smells spoiled and SOUR rather than yeasty, it's spoiled. Throw it away.

I think the key is that you had left it out for many hours without culture before attempting to clabber it (I'm assuming you added some culture like yogurt)--the bad bacteria won.

I make clabbered cream by culturing it with some yogurt which has plenty of good bacteria. That does two things--it slightly acidifies the cream and it adds a lot of good bacteria that can quickly multiply before the bad bacteria has a chance. If you don't introduce the good bacteria and acidify the milk, the bad bacteria may multiply first.

I love the smell of cultured cream.

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