How to Separate Cream from Raw Milk

Learn the simple steps on how to separate cream from raw milk. You will get to enjoy fresh cream in your coffee, homemade butter, ice-cream and more.

We have been getting farm fresh milk from a local farmer for quite some time. One of the greatest benefits of getting fresh milk is the amount of cream I skim off the top.

how to separate raw milk from cream in a jar

How to Separate Cream from Raw Milk in a Jar

Being a beginner homesteader one of my future goals is to have my own family milk cow. We have been doing quite a bit of research as to what breed of a cow we will eventually add to our homestead. But, we aren’t quite to that point in our lives to invest in one. Currently, I am very thankful that we have several local farmers who are willing to share their dairy products with us.

I had been purchasing organic cream from the grocery store. However, we use quite a bit of cream in our home, and it was getting rather costly. I can purchase a gallon of milk and use the cream off the top for a much lower price than getting both from the local store.

What is Raw Milk with Cream

Raw milk is milk that has not been pasteurized or homogenized. When milk is pasteurized it undergoes a process of heating the milk to a high enough temperature so it kills enzymes that are healthy. Milk is then homogenized which is a process of breaking down the fat molecules so they stay together and don’t separate as cream and it gives the milk a smooth, even consistency.

Raw milk is milk which comes from pastured cows and has not undergone any kind of processing. It contains all of the fats. There is some controversy surrounding raw milk and it is even illegal in some areas. However, I personally can’t drink store bought milk without it making me sick, but I can consume raw farm fresh milk.

Interested in finding your own source of raw milk? You can look here for a location near you.

How to Separate Raw Cream from Fresh Milk | Measuring Cup Method

  1. During transport of the milk from the farmer back to your home, the milk can get shook up and mixed with the cream. So, once you get your jars of milk home, put it in the fridge and wait for the cream to rise to the top. This can take about 24 hours. When I pick our milk up, it already shows the cream line. However, I still allow the milk to sit in the fridge before I start to skim the cream off the top.
  2. I use a measuring cup to remove the cream as it something I always have within easy reach. A 1/4 cup generally fits the best inside my half gallon jars. Search for the cream line on the jar so you know about how far down the cream is located.
  3. Gently place the measuring cup into the cream and allow the cream to fill into the measuring cup. Be careful to not go very deep because you don’t want to get down into the milk. I always leave some cream in the top of the jar because it makes the milk taste even more delicious!
  4. Scoop the cream out and place it into a separate jar. Keep repeating until you have the amount you wish to take off the top.
  5. Place a lid on the cream jar and store it in the fridge.

How to Store Raw Milk | Glass Mason Jar Storage

It is very important to handle raw milk safely. If you get it from a local farmer, know your farmer. You should know they are handling your raw milk in a safe way. You should know if they are careful to keep their equipment clean and sanitary.

I own two sets of these half gallon mason jars. I have them labeled with our last name. Each week, I take one empty set to the farmers house and leave them. Then, I pick up the set I left there the previous week. After we use a half gallon of milk, the jar is washed and placed back into the box for the next weeks milk pickup time.

Raw milk should always be kept cold and I suggest storing it towards the back of the refrigerator. Our cream is stored in quart size mason jars and also kept towards the back of the refrigerator as well.

Remove Raw Cream from Milk

More Ways on How to Separate Raw Cream from Milk

Spigot Glass Jar: Using a spigot glass jar allows you to use the milk first and then eventually all that is left is the cream. To use this method pour your milk into the glass jar and then let the cream settle on the top. Generally, 24 hours will be enough time. To get the milk, open the spigot. Eventually, all that will be left in the jar is the cream.

Personally, I have never tried this method. I always need the cream off the top before my family can finish a gallon of milk.

I also have a few concerns about using the spigot method. One of them being the spigot could get clogged. The other, that it would be hard to get it clean enough. When working with raw dairy, it is so important to make sure everything stays very clean.

Stainless Steel Ladle: This is the same process of using a measuring cup, it just has a longer handle if you need to dip further into the jar.

How to Use Fresh Raw Cream

So, you have the cream. Now, what do you do with it? There are so many things you can do with cream! Having it for my morning coffee is such an essential part of my day. I love to use it for homemade ice-cream, homemade butter and heavy whipping cream.

Recipes for Raw Cream

My homemade Coconut Cream Pie requires using cream as does my homemade Chocolate Ice-Cream Recipe.

Thank you for sharing!

36 thoughts on “How to Separate Cream from Raw Milk”

  1. Pasteurization is one of the greatest gifts to mankind, and I’ll never understand risking your kids’ health by refusing to pasteurize your milk. It’s illegal in most places for a reason.

    • The reason pasteurization was needed was because the milk industry doesn’t care for their cows and mastitis causes bacteria in the milk. It was necessary to pasteurize it. When you care for your cow and monitor for bacteria levels regularly there is no need to pasteurize. Do your research before making negative comments on a lovely, helpful post.

        • I agree. There are healthy bacteria in the raw milk that are good for our gut. Diseases seem to have risen as humans eat more processed food and fast food. I milk our own cows and love it.

        • I love raw milk, butter, heavy cream,milk, buttermilk. They pasteurized the milk in my mind so they can make more money,

      • That’s not true all dairies have to abide by strict standards to keep contamination out of milk before it is pasteurized. They then homogenize it to allow a longer shelf life. When it is distributed through supermarkets it will stand long enough that the cream will separate even into a hard layer without it. You see this with creamline milk all the time. It shouldn’t be that way but the store can’t keep going around shaking the bottles. There is a real risk to raw milk but with today’s standards probably pretty low. Personally I prefer it to be pasteurized. I remember getting green top milk from Church Lane farm near my grandparents house in England periodically. Tasted good and certainly was fresh.

    • I’m a huge fan of the raw milk!! We have a dairy farm and I have raised my kids on raw milk since they were little. They have immune systems like you wouldn’t believe and not one of them has an allergy to anything. I know where my milk comes from and that the cows are clean and our bacteria is low and I believe it’s better before it goes through a whole process to get to the stores. I’m now able to make butter and other dairy products and I’m loving it!!!

      • Well done, keep up the great process keep Milk Healthy and Complete, not boiled to a white liquid that has little benefit and a problem that is given hardly any coverage that creates for one thing lactose intolerance.
        I have a farmer close who sells his Raw Milk, it’s so much nicer, I wish he was Organic but I understand his problems, meanwhile with a small herd he is doing his very best for his cows and us.

    • I have been drinking unpasteurized milk my whole life, and I have always been healthy. If you take care of your cows then you get good milk. You risking your family’s health buying over processed foods at the store. Bacteria is so healthy for you.

    • I agree with Kate, please do your research first. Also, may I suggest that you use a little logic as well. Mankind has been drinking and using raw milk for at least 1000 years and we survived all of that time to get where we are today…, cause now the US government can step in and protect us (finally) from ourselves by requiring pasteurization. You do realize that it is really only illegal here, not in the rest of the world. I feel very fortunate to have located a source for raw milk just today. I won’t use anything else from this point forward.

    • It’s ignorant city people who don’t understand… they are so far removed from the reality of where our food comes, and how it’s even grown. Keep up the great work, we’ve used our raw milk from our dairy for over 30 years, and have NEVER had an issue. Be smart. All 5 of my babies have went from mom milk straight to cows unpasteurized milk. Love your page!!

    • Pasteurization denatures the enzyme lactate which is essential to digestion of lactose. It does not renature. The only source of lactase is milk. Hence the exponential rise of lactose intolerance in developed nations. Tuberculosis was the primary bacterium of concern. It was very rare in well cared for cows. The primary purpose of pasteurization was to increase the shelf life of milk so large scale dairies would lose less money. Studies are showing more illnesses from pasteurized products than there ever were from fresh unpasteurized products. There’s a reason it said be sure equipment is clean. Handled properly, raw milk will make your child stronger and healthier than your pasteurization.

  2. I feel like you have opened my eyes to something completely new. We moved to a township about two years ago and there’s an Amish community just two hours away from us. I’m really interested in looking up more information about this.

  3. What do you do if the milk jar opening isn’t big enough for scooping? I buy milk from a local farm and they sell it in old fashioned glass milk jugs with really narrow openings.

    I poured the milk into a different container, but haven’t seen a cream line resurface yet…what would you do? Will it resurface or have I mixed it in too much by pouring it?

    • The cream will resurface after several hours and then you can scoop it off. I am so sorry that I didn’t answer this sooner, somehow I missed the comment.

  4. My husband has recently changed career from 27 years in the army he is now a dairy farmer. It took me some getting used to the raw milk but now I’m a fan and now you’ve just taught me how to separate the cream from the milk I’m going to be making our own butter.
    Thank you

  5. If I wanted to pasteurize the cream after separating it from the milk could I do so. The farmers take wonderful care of there cows but they milk by hand and reuse buckets I would just feel safer knowing I am preventing any possibility of getting sick.

    • I boil the milk on stove and then let it sit there for an hour. Cream forms a thick layer on the top which you can easily scoop and store in a container. Keep in mind though, the cream collected this way is not something that you can use in your coffee/tea but you can still make butter out of it.

  6. I was wondering, when you are waiting for the cream line, do you refrigerate the raw milk?
    Also, can you pasteurize the milk first and still get the cream layer so it’s pasteurized milk?

    • Yes, refrigerate the milk while waiting for the cream to rise to the top of the jar. I have never pasteurized the milk.

  7. Can you help, I’ve just started making my own butter and I read a post saying unpasteurized cream was better and as we live right next to a dairy farm I collected some milk from them to try. I drew the cream off the top and put it into my mixer as per the last time but it just isn’t separating. What have I done wrong I would really like to try this healthy way of making butter and I have an easy source on my doorstep. Can anyone help

    • Hi Maureen,
      How long did you use the mixer? I use my Ninja food processor to make butter and it takes a good 10 minutes or more to make butter. In comparison, the store bought cream turns into butter much quicker.

  8. Thank you for this article! Raw milk is actually illegal in most states. But thankfully there are some ways around it. For example we are heard shares owners. We own a share of our cows, so we don’t pay for milk that is coming from them. We just pay weekly for the keep of our cows. That was we have legal documentation that the milk we use is ours to do with as we plase. I’m just learning, so far have made kiefer, yogurt, cream, butter, cream cheese and whey. Of course the milk is good and my son can now enjoy it when he couldn’t handle the stuff from the store. Thankful for all the online resources like this one so I can learn as I go.

  9. Hello! Thanks for sharing on how to extract cream off raw milk. I would like to check how do you clean the milk jars before you pass to the farmers? We buy our milk once a week and they use recyclable plastic bottles with narrow sprout. I really prefer glass jars to reduce waste. I’m not sure what is the proper way of doing it. Do I need to boil the jars with hot water to sterilize them or do I just wash it with regular washing up liquid? Thanks in advance!

  10. Until I was about 10 years old, our big family would get a weekly 5 gallon milk can of raw milk delivered from a nearby dairy farmer. The day it arrived was always very exciting! Some of my most-cherished childhood memories center around raw milk and how it impacted our lives. From the first glass upon delivery to the many recipes mother created with it, raw milk was always a ‘Special’ treat.
    50+ years later (yesterday, in fact) I located a source for raw milk (Holstein) who sells to the public. It is a 75 minute drive, but fortunately, only about a mile from my niece’s place. I hope to surprise her with a gallon of nature’s finest. I’m SO EXCITED!

  11. Been doing raw milk for about 20 years. We have recently moved and 2 of our kids are no longer at home so we aren’t consuming as much which means we have some jars that go sour.
    I want to still use the clan er and whey if possible. How old is too old? The jars I have are about 2-2.5 mos old but have been in the fridge the whole time. There is a definite cream or clabber/whey line and it looks like the cream/clabber is almost solid. Can I still use it and if so what would you recommend doing? Thanks so much!!

  12. I use a simple process even from store bought milk. Unpasteurized unhomogenized is great.

    I boil the milk, and cool it down. After few hours it is all cream top. Few times a day repeat, and use milk in the process.

    Next day, new milk cream top.



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