The Milkweed Diaries

Monday, July 13, 2009

What to do with Sour Milk

Image by Jorge Arrieta

Over the summer, we get a large quantity of fresh raw milk on a regular basis. While the raw milk abundance is completely awesome, it can be hard to keep up with such a high-volume, ongoing milk influx.

We have just begun to scratch the surface of cheese-making in the past few years, and continue gradually to expand our cheese repertoire, but in the meantime, highly perishable raw milk tends to crowd our small fridge in the summer, and I am always in search of quick, spontaneous ways to make use of milk at various stages of souring.

Fortunately, making food with slightly fermented milk is an ancient tradition, and there are some delightful ways to make use of soured milk.

Here's my favorite way to enjoy sour milk so far:

Fluffy Sour Milk Pancakes

I can't describe how delicious and addictive these pancakes are. I think I ate them for 3 meals in a row in one recent 24-hour period. Mmmmmm.

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 Tbs. butter, melted
  • 2 cups sour milk
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Tbs. sugar

Simple ingredients + sour milk = super-delightful pancakes.

  1. Mix dry ingredients in a bowl (sift if you want to - I don't sift because I am a lazy cook).
  2. Beat the egg well. Add the beaten egg, along with the milk and butter, to the dry ingredients.
  3. Let sit for at least a half hour and up to a day. I discovered by accident that if you ferment the batter overnight after mixing it up, you will have significantly fluffier pancakes. If you are going to let the batter sit for more than an hour or so, put it in the fridge in a loosely covered, non-plastic container with plenty of "headroom" for the batter to rise. It only took one explosion in our refrigerator to learn the importance of leaving room for expansion inside the container when you store the batter -- it's alive!
  4. After the batter has had a chance to rise for an hour or a day, spoon onto a hot, buttered cast iron griddle or skillet.
  5. Cook until browned on both sides.
  6. Serve hot. I like these best topped just with butter and honey, but you can of course top them with any favorite pancake topping. . .maple syrup, jam or apple butter, yogurt, or fresh fruit. They are also good with fresh ricotta cheese. Yum!

On Souring

Raw milk sours well, and ours is usually sour within 4 or 5 days in the fridge. Pasteurized milk probably would not sour enough to work for this or other recipes calling for sour milk.

There are various instructions available online for faking sour milk by combining pasteurized milk and lemon juice or vinegar. Faked sour milk, however, would contain none of the beneficial bacteria of fermented milk, and I doubt it would taste as good. It definitely would not add the fluff/heft to the pancakes that comes from bubbly, fermenting sour milk.

Notes on raw milk and commercial dairy:

Lots of info on raw milk can be found at: and

More on the movement to expand food choices to include legal access to raw milk can be found
on the Farm to Consumer Foundation's website, including information on how to start a cow share.

In stark contrast to raw milk from grass-fed cows living on small local farms, most commercial dairy in the US is produced in big CAFOs -- factory farms that waste resources, confine animals in cruel conditions, and pump dairy cows massive doses of hormones and antibiotics. Raw milk tends to be sold by small operations directly to the consumer. This means that the milk-drinker has a chance to see the cow and the milking operation firsthand. I'll take raw, local milk from a cow I've met over ultra-pasteurized CAFO milk any day!


Green Bean said...

Super helpful post!! I'm amazed how many things can be made from sour milk! Will never throw it out again.

Milkweed said...

Thanks G.B. ! I made them again this morning with *fresh blueberries* ~ mmmm!

Randy said...

Great post! I've been making the recipes contained in "Nourishing Traditions" which has opened a whole new world of traditionally prepared foods that are much more nutritious and assimilable to the body. Glad to see more of this type of food prep going around. I'm in California but fortunately, we can still get raw milk from two companies at out local health food store. I've already made cream cheese and whey from raw milk, as well as buttermilk, kefir and creme fraiche (yum!). Making pancakes with real cultured buttermilk, like the recipe above, breaks down the phytates in the grain so that the nutrients can be absorbed completely.

La Belle Coccinelle said...

Thanks for this idea and this recipe, I was looking for things to do with soured milk (what a waste to throw it out!) and happened upon your blog. I made these pancakes with a blend of buckwheat, rye and spelt flours, and they were delicious!

Organic Miami Child said...

nice post! isn't it great how raw soured milk can actually be used instead of turning putrid and being dumped down the drain...

I plan to come out next week to the plant sale. Maybe you'll let me in on your secret raw milk source :)

Milkweed said...

Thanks for reading, LBC and OMC!

The Religion Blogger said...

Just found this recipie and your blog while searching for a way to use up our freshly soured milk. Delicious! I couldn't wait the hour to let them rise, but they were still the lightest, yummiest pancakes I've made. I can't wait to read more! Thanks!