My brother sent me a tattered notebook from 1915. It belonged to my great-grandmother, was passed down to my grandmother, then my mother, then to him. He was always a good cook, but he passed the book on to me so I can pass it on to one of my kids.

Inside was an odd cookie recipe using sour milk. I wondered why they'd want to use that until I realized that there was little electricity let alone refrigeration in rural areas. When the milk soured they didn't want to waste it or to give it to the piglets. Hence the sour milk cookie recipes came into being.

The recipe is in my great-grandmother's handwriting. I can tell it's hers because she included a translation of Goethe from German into English in the first part of the notebook. Besides, that was when they used to teach penmanship in grade school. Hattie had a beautiful, flowing penmanship style.

Anyway, here is the recipe. Next time you have some milk that is smelling a bit off, now you can bust out some tasty cookies instead of dumping it down the sink to feed the sewer rats and alligators.


  • 2 cups of cane sugar
  • 1 cup of shortening or lard
  • 2 eggs, beaten in a mug
  • 1 cup of sour milk
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 4 cups white flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 & 1/4 tsp vanilla or almond if available

The Magic:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees or use the wood-fired oven.
  2. Mix the sugar and shortening together in a large bowl. 
  3. Wisk or beat in eggs. Set aside.
  4. Wisk the baking soda into the sour milk until it begins to foam.
  5. Add to the large bowl and beat all ingredients until mixed well.
  6. Add the baking powder to the flour and run through a sifter to mix well over the large bowl.
  7. Add in salt and vanilla or almond if available.
  8. Beat well.
  9. Roll out dough with a rolling pin until about one quarter inch thick and cut into 2 to 3 inch circles.
  10. Place on greased and floured baking sheet.
  11. Cook for ten minutes or until the tops are lightly browned. Do not overcook.
  12. Allow to cool and place in a jar.



DonJaime asked: Have you tested this? Sour (pasteurised/heat-treated) milk these days isn't the same as sour (raw) milk in the good old days.
Rancid_Pickle replied: Excellent question! We would make these when it started to smell sour so we could use up the rest of the milk.

lizardinlaw sez: We use sour milk for pancakes and waffles, and old cookbooks tell you to sour it with vinegar if you don't have sour milk.
Rancid_Pickle replys: I forgot about that, thank you. After I clean my Keurig with vinegar and rinse it out I have to drink tea with lemon for the first three runs because any lingering vinegar will make the coffee creamer curdle.

As requested by NanceMuse