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3 Methods to Separate Cream From Raw Milk

Updated: Feb 14



Cream has so many lovely uses, but if you have raw whole milk, you may be wondering what is the best way to separate cream from the milk. Emmaline and I have tried a handful of different ways and want to tell you what we have learned.

Milk needs to sit undisturbed for at least 24 hours to allow the cream to float to the top of the jar. There should be a discernable cream line.

Milk and cream separation.

How to Use a Turkey Baster to Separate Cream

First we tried the turkey baster. Neither of us had tried the Turkey Baster method to separate cream before, but we found it to be a surprisingly good technique. You just depress the bulb, insert the tip into the top of the cream and slowly release the pressure on the bulb, sucking up the cream. Keep your container for cream close by as this can be messy if you have to move it too far. Repeat until there is about 1/4 inch layer of cream left to avoid pulling off milk with it.


I found I liked the baster for later use. If I want to make whip cream I need really heavy cream, so I put the cream in the refrigerator for a day or two. After this point, there is additional separation that occurs with the heaviest cream going to the top. There is often a small amount of milk that you will see at the very bottom. This milk is what I target with the baster. I put the tip all the way to the little milk layer and pull it out from under the cream. I usually pull just a little of the bottom layer of cream too just to be thorough. Then I am left with just the heavy cream. Perfect for whipping. I really like how precise this method is.

A Ladle and Turkey Baster can be used to separate cream.

How to Use a Ladle to Separate Cream

The ladle method is the one that both of us had used in the past. It is very simple. Depending on the size container you have will determine the size ladle you use. This can be anywhere from a large ladle down to a gravy ladle. Tip the ladle sideways and gently insert into the top of the cream allowing the cream to flow into the ladle as you tip it back right side up. I would also keep your container close by for this technique so you don’t have to travel as far with a ladle full of cream. As you reach the lower portion of the cream you want to change your technique a little by gently pressing the ladle straight into the cream layer allowing the cream to pour in over the sides. Stop when there is about 1/4 inch of cream left to avoid taking milk out with your cream.


How to Use a Beverage Container to Separate Cream

The beverage container with the bottom spout was actually our favorite cream separation method. This was a pleasant surprise for us. It is a simple method but does require a little planning ahead. All you do is fill a beverage container with your milk. Wait 24-48 hours. At this point, we just use the milk in our meals and slowly pull it from under the cream using the spout. Alternatively, you could pull out the milk to below the spout all at once. I like to tip it as I pull out milk to make sure the cream level is below the spout opening to reduce the amount of milk that is pulled out with the cream. At this point, I can just place my cream container below the spout and cream is all that is flowing out. It is a fast, easy and less messy way of harvesting cream. Plus, it has the added benefit of milk being available for use before you have had a chance to harvest the cream.

A Beverage Container with a discernable cream layer.

Cream Separator

A cream separator is always an option but since they cost around $200-300 we feel they aren’t worth the cost. Not when there are so many other great ways to harvest the cream for less money.

Milk with a discernable cream layer separating the cream.

Milk with a discernable cream layer.

Separated Cream

Separated Cream

If you have any questions or comments please post them below.

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