Date: Wed, 13 Mar 1996 18:05:17 +1608


Subject: Re: Clabber milk -Reply

Natalie said:

Isn't "blue john" simply skimmed milk?

In our family, blue john was skim milk that had so little butterfat that it

was tasteless or even tasted a little bad. We always left enough cream in

the milk to keep it from tasting like blue john. We used the term 'blinky'

for the early stage of souring. And blue john that was blinky really

tasted bad. Tarpley found regional distribution of the meanings of these

terms in East Texas, but I don't have his book and don't recall


On the question of "clabber," I'm confused about how many variations

we're talking about. Are we talking about "clabber" by itself versus

"clabber milk" or "clabbered milk" (versus other totally different terms)?

I can't remember which I heard most often: just clabber or clabber milk

(parallel with butter milk) or clabbered milk. I think all three terms

were used in Mississippi in the late '40s and early '50s.

Natalie reminds me of my quandaries and what I figured out as a teenager

(early teens). Before the curds were fully developed into large chunks

we'd talk about that as clabbered milk, but we didn't consume it at that

stage. What we would eat or make cottage cheese of was clabber, the curds.

Mother had several uses for whey too. When I came across different

responses in dialect surveys (much past my teens), I just thought some

people didn't quite understand all the stages of the process, or maybe

didn't like or eat clabber. Don't we all think our family language is

right -- that is, in regard to dialect items?

Donald M. Lance, University of Missouri