Date: Thu, 14 Mar 1996 16:06:16 +1608


Subject: Re: Blinky milk etc

Donald Lance asserted in the meantime that with homogenization and

pasteurization, milk doesn't do any of these things on its own. Well, Donald, I

don't claim any kind of magic touch. But milk from my local Stop-n-Shop if

left alone when I'm out of town most definitely does get blinky. I couldn't

swear to it, never having encountered clabber in its native habitat, but I'm

pretty sure I generated some clabber only a few years ago. After I poured it

down the drain and ran the disposal, I went out for dinner!

Today's milk does spoil, but the result isn't exactly like the sour milk,

clabbered milk, and clabber (curds and whey) of "olden days," You can buy

some tablets to put in modern milk and make it sour and clabber up so you

can make cottage cheese. After my parents no longer kept a milk cow, my

mother would make buttermilk and cottage cheese by using tablets that she

bought; the name of the tablets almost makes its way to the surface of my

mind, but not quite. My point was that what happens to today's milk seems

to me to be somewhat different from what raw milk used to do with the

bacteria that came from the cow (or milk lot). Raw milk turned blinky and

then sour fairly fast if you left it out of the icebox/refrigerator.

Because modern milk doesn't taste like our blinky milk of old, I don't feel

comfortable using 'blinky' but don't mind of others of non-rural persuasion


To turn the discussion to dialect research:

I've wondered whether foodways and dialect have gotten mixed together in

some of the data analysis. This conversation about clabber has brought

back old memories. What we called clabbered milk had smaller curds that

had not yet coalesced into the large curds of clabber. Sometimes either my

mother or my father (I forget which) would stir up the clabbered milk and

drink it. So I wonder whether the incidence of 'clabbered milk' bears some

relation to the distribution of the consumption of this item. (Language

and culture, etc.) Clabber, like buttermilk, was thought to be good for

digestion; in fact, nowadays doctors recommend that we should eat some

yogurt or drink buttermilk to restore "natural" intestinal flora after

taking a batch of orally-administered antiobiotics.

Donald M. Lance, University of Missouri