I tried to take cream from raw (full fat) milk by the common method: leaving the milk at refrigerator overnight, then taking the cream from top. The amount of cream came to the top was low, and after separation, the milk was still fully fat. Then, next day new cream came onto the top, and the milk was still fat.

Is there a practical method (probably similar to industrial approach to skim milk) for full separation of cream from milk?

  • 2
    Industrial approaches aren't generally practical for home use - for example, they might be using centrifuges for this.
    – Cascabel
    Jul 13, 2013 at 14:16
  • 6
    This approach is made for use on farms, where they milk their own milk. The milk in the supermarket is specially treated ("homogenized") so this separation cannot happen. There are very few (expensive organic, minimally processed, hard-to-find) brands which don't homogenize. So unless you can get your milk fresh from the farm, this will not work for you.
    – rumtscho
    Jul 13, 2013 at 16:24

5 Answers 5


If you have raw milk and let it sit, the cream will indeed rise to the top. To separate, you can just wait and skim off the cream as you did. However, if you store the raw milk in the refrigerator, it will take longer for the cream to rise. Perhaps that is why you are having difficulties. Alternatively, you can use a spigot jar to drain the "skimmed" milk from the raw milk, leaving the cream behind.

I think you end up with about 1/10th of your raw milk that is cream.

  • You mean keeping the raw milk in ambient temperature to separate the cream? Is it safe to keep the milk out of the fridge?
    – Googlebot
    Jul 13, 2013 at 11:02
  • 1
    No it is not safe. This is why industrial cream is centrifuged.
    – SAJ14SAJ
    Jul 13, 2013 at 14:23
  • 5
    If you have really fresh raw milk and let it sit out ion room temperature for a couple of days, you can make sour milk, which is almost like yoghurt. It will coagulate (from naturally occurring bacteria) and a layer of sour cream will separate on top. It might not be considered safe by all puritan standards (if the milk hasn't been gained from hygienically questionable sources it should be fine, as this method has been used in Europe for centuries ^_^), it is however extremely delicious ^_^ Jul 14, 2013 at 22:52

Even if your purchasing milk from a dairy that doesn't pasteurize their product the amount of cream is going to be very minimal. Dairies separate all the cream from their milk and when they package it as whole milk they only add back 3 and 1/2 percent cream to make whole milk. This means that for a gallon of milk (which is 128 ounces) they only return 4.48 ounces of cream. Or 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon of cream. So even if you think that what separated from allowing it to set in the refrigerator overnight was low, if you separated out close to a half cup, your not going to get much more than that.

The only way to get more cream in your whole milk is by milking your own cow or finding a neighbor that milks and doesn't skim the milk himself. Also if your after high cream production make sure that the grain you're feeding is formulated to help the cow produce a high amount of cream.

  • 3
    cream ≠ butterfat, which is being conflated in this answer. Homogenization ≠ pasteurization, as well.
    – Ecnerwal
    Sep 27, 2017 at 13:22

I have started making Skyr and it is a low fat product. So I let my raw milk stand in the fridge a full 3 days before I collect the cream. I use a turkey baster:

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You could also sanitize a hose put it in the milk before letting it stand and siphon the skim from the bottom leaving the cream. (You would have to sanitize the tube first.)


For raw milk. You use a blue filter. Or so called. You pour the milk threw them. The cream stays in the filter. You may not have these in America. But used in the Philippines & other 3rd world places. Try on line under dairy filters to find them. Normally found at feed stores here.

  • I think I found them under Hambi dairy supplies Looking at dairy filters. Just now.
    – J Bergen
    Sep 27, 2017 at 19:47

Letting the milk sit out for half an hour to an hour to warm up to separate the cream from it is safe. Yogurt is made by heating the milk, letting it cool, then adding bacterial cultures (ie, a bit of previously made yogurt).

Similarly, if the milk is off a bit, freeze it as it's perfect as buttermilk in recipes.

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