Bonny Clabber Panna Cotta {*raw milk *wild fermentation}– Traditional, GAPS

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When I was 16 I went to Lyon, France, to stay with a family in a very small, rural town. Fields of sunflowers were grown for harvest nearby, and the TrainΒ Γ  Grande Vitesse would go by occasionally. I’d ride the family’s bike to buy baguettes down in the village, and ride that bike down narrow dirt paths through the cow-speckled sunflower fields on boring, lazy afternoons.

In the mornings, the French mother would provide pastries from a local patisserie, and little cups of a tart dairy product that tasted like something between cheese and yogurt. My French “sister” taught me to unmold the dairy into a little dish. Then we’d pour granulated sugar and cream all over the top and eat it with a spoon. It was tart and tangy, and certainly sweet with the sugar, and rich. They did not know the name in English; it was not as high in fat as creme fraiche.

I always wondered what that cup custard was. There are many forms of cultured dairy that are not familiar to Americans. What I was eating was probably not raw dairy, but bonny clabber panna cotta hits closer to that flavor and texture than anything else I’ve tried.

Tart and cheesy, somewhat rich, and teaming with probiotics, this recipe brings back those old, beautiful, French food memories, and recreates them for my 14-year-old son who loves this snack treat just as much as I loved my mystery breakfast back then.

Wild Fermentation

Wild fermentation is the easiest approach to fermenting; and certainly bonny clabber is the easiest ferment there is to make– although no less magical than the more difficult processes.

If we set out at room temperature raw mother’s milk (whether cow, human, sheep, goat etc.), for a few days, a separation will occur, a separation into curds and whey.

What’s happening on a microscopic level is evidence of the charged nutrition therein. If there was any doubt that mother’s milk of every kind is teaming with probiotics, making bonny clabber lays those doubts to rest.

Bonny clabber is just raw milk that’s allowed to sit in a warm place, the perfect breeding ground for its own probiotics to mulitply. The milk thickens visibly, becoming gelatinous, wiggly amidst watery whey.

Bonny Clabber Panna Cotta {*raw milk *wild fermentation}

I make bonny clabber into panna cotta because it’s a wonderful way to use/include the whey from the clabber, while creating an edible (instead of drinkable) snack.

(There are a lot of other [fun] uses for whey and clabber, by the way; both can be used in this sourdough grain-free cassava flour waffle recipe, for example, to reduce phytates. The probiotics predigest the antinutrients, making my favorite breakfast more digestible and nutritious.)

Bonny clabber panna cotta is a lot like a bowl of yogurt, but the process fits into our lifestyle better and more easily than making yogurt. I don’t have to do much. I just set the raw milk out on the counter for few days until it thickens and/or separates. During this time the probiotics are mulitplying. Then I take less than 10 minutes to make this recipe. I don’t need any special equipment or ingredients. I always have gelatin on hand. I can pour the clabber into little bowls or one big one, and serve it as a snack or with any meal throughout the week.

I like that this recipe uses the whey! That can be a downside to a lot of homemade cheese dairy recipes, you have so much whey leftover. By using just a bit of gut-nourishing gelatin the mineral and probiotic-rich whey can remain a part of this treat, thus no waste, the added nutrition, and no added step of trying to figure out what to do with the whey or storing it until ready to use.

Clabber for Gut-Healing, the GAPS Diet and SIBO

Clabber does not have as many probiotic strains as inoculating raw milk with kefir grains; but this is actually good for some of us. When healing through the GAPS Diet or from SIBO, (which is a proliferation in the small intestine that can be exacerbated by too many probiotics), a gentle, slow reintroduction of probiotics is better . So I don’t make clabber because it boasts the MOST probiotics, but because it’s rich in them, still quite nourishing, easy to make, and gentle on my body.

Clabber is clearly a 24-hour+ ferment, which makes it a great option for the GAPS Diet. The probiotics and lactase in raw milk consume the proteins and milk sugars present (the lactose) in raw milk, thus making clabber a great choice for the GAPS Diet, similar to the homemade 24-hour yogurt that’s taught on the diet. So if you’re on GAPS, this is one more great snack or condiment that’s easy to add to your base of foods, assuming you tolerate dairy. (source)

Bonny Clabber Panna Cotta {*raw milk *wild fermentation!}-- Traditional, GAPS... This is super fun to make and easy, too. It's mineral and probiotic-rich, quick to make, and magical. It uses the whey, too, which is great! Reminds me of a French treat I loved there so many years ago...such a lovely breakfast, snack or lunch.


Bonny Clabber Panna Cotta
Prep Time
10 mins
Total Time
10 mins
Servings: 3 servings
Author: Megan
  • 2 cups bonny clabber (clabbered raw milk)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup or honey for GAPS Diet (or use less sweetener, to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons gelatin see link and discount code below in Recipe notes
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or 1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder, see link below
  • pinch sea salt
  1. Place water in small saucepan. Sprinkle gelatin over its surface, and allow to bloom 1 minute. Stir in gelatin, and turn heat to medium.
  2. Stir continually over medium heat until steamy and the liquid is foamy, 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat, and allow to cool 5 minutes.
  3. In large bowl whisk together clabbered milk, maple syrup, vanilla and sea salt. While whisking, stir in gelatin water.
  4. Pour mixture into desired serving dish or dishes, or shallow mold(s), if you wish to unmold it for serving.
  5. Depending on dish size, refrigerate a minimum of 3 hours or overnight. Serve by itself or with any condiment such as fresh fruit.
Recipe Notes

Get 10% off sustainably-sourced gelatin HERE by entering BEAUTIFUL10 at checkout.

Use the whole vanilla pod! πŸ™‚ Here's vanilla bean powder, sustainably-sourced, a beautiful ingredient, and more affordable than vanilla extract.

Do you have a source for local, raw milk? Have you made clabber, the easiest of all ferments?

If you need a source for raw milk, start by calling your local Weston A. Price chapter leader. You can also check this map to see the legality of raw milk in your state. And you can check local farmers’ listings here.


Comments 25

  1. I’ve been trying to learn more about fermentation outside of yogurt and kombucha, so thanks for such and awesome idea, I love panna cotta!

  2. I LOVED reading about your experience in France as a teenager. I also love that you figured out how to make your own version. This is lovely Megan!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed reading about bonny clabber. I guess there are cultures that have never heard of panna cotta, but bonny clabber is an everyday affair, lol! πŸ™‚

  3. I receive raw milk weekly, and this sounds yummy! You said you leave milk on countertop until it thickens. Do I need to cover with cheesecloth or anything? Thanks for your reply! I am so happy I stumbled upon your site on Pinterest! We are trying to incorporate more traditional foods into our diet.

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