Why Am I Making Buttermilk?
I’ve had a buttermilk issue for a few years now, and from what I hear I’m not alone. The problem is that I can’t find it in small amounts, and I almost never use up the whole container before it’s out of date. I have many uses for it, and I need it all the time, but I only use small amounts for all the uses.
I have been told that you can freeze it. I have tried that, but it didn’t work out for me at the time, and I wasn’t sure if the cultures would survive. Turns out, they do, but they don’t last a long time in the freezer and you really need to freeze the buttermilk when it is as fresh as possible because that helps the cultures survive longer.
You can read a cool Instructable about it by a scientist.
Waste wasn’t the only issue. Store-bought buttermilk has too many ingredients. When I say, “too many,” I mean unnecessary things that shouldn’t be in it. The easiest way to make your own buttermilk is to start with store-bought buttermilk for your cultures. That doesn’t entirely eliminate the extraneous ingredients, but it reduces them. Since you make each subsequent batch using some of the last batch you made, you will eventually get to the point where those ingredients are practically non-existent.
The alternative to using store-bought buttermilk is to use buttermilk starter. Then, again, you use your buttermilk moving forward. That would eliminate the extra ingredients entirely. I haven’t tried doing it that way. If you have tried both methods, let me know which one you like better and why.
I use buttermilk to make Ranch dressing and homemade sour cream on a regular basis. I will be posting an updated version of the sour cream recipe soon. Less frequently, I use it to soak chicken before cooking, make fried chicken, and in other recipes like homemade tortillas and other breads.
It’s also good for your skin. You can use it alone to clean your face or mix it with raw honey to make a nice mask.
Cultured vs Traditional Buttermilk
I don’t know about you, but I used to be confused about buttermilk. What I always knew of as buttermilk was the liquid that is left over from churning butter. That’s traditional buttermilk and totally different to what you can buy in stores today or what recipes call for.
Traditional buttermilk doesn’t have cultures, so it can’t be used to make more buttermilk or sour cream. It is not acidic like cultured buttermilk, so doesn’t have the same flavor or chemical effect when used in recipes.
What About Adding Lemon Juice to Regular Milk?
When you mention “making” buttermilk to most people, they think you’re talking about the old trick of adding lemon juice to regular milk when you don’t have or can’t find buttermilk for a recipe.
That will work for some recipes. It gives it the acidity and tangy flavor, so it will activate baking soda and generally achieve the flavor you want. But again, no cultures. It won’t make more buttermilk or sour cream. And, you get none of the health benefits of the live active cultures.
How to Make Buttermilk
This is insanely simple!Find a glass jar with a lid. Boil some water to sterilize the jar and lid. I just set them in the sink, pour the boiling water in them and dump it back out.
Fill the jar with ¾ milk and ¼ buttermilk.
Put the lid on tightly and shake it up to mix well.
Put it in a warm dark place. If you don’t have a dark place, cover it with a towel to protect it from the light.
Wait 12 to 24 hours.
Taste and refrigerate.
The end result should be thicker than the milk you used. It will turn into buttermilk faster in warmer temperatures, so keep that in mind when planning ahead. If you want to be sure it stays warm in a chilly house, you can put it in a cooler along with a jar of very hot water.
For the jar, I have started using freezer-safe canning jars. They are better for pouring and easier to clean than regular jars with a shoulder.I used to use Jars I had saved from Spaghetti sauce, but now I use those for fly-proof drinking glasses.
Have you tried making your own buttermilk? If so, tell me about it in the comments!