What is Buttermilk?

What is Buttermilk? Well, there’s the old answer and the new, and both are good.

The old answer is that buttermilk was the thin, non-fat but rich tasting liquid left in a churn after making butter, full of healthful, delicious cultures that develop naturally when cream is left at room temperature for a few hours to improve the flavor of the butter. The cultures meant that buttermilk kept longer than raw milk in the days before easy cooling and refrigeration, which made it useful in cooking.


The new answer is that buttermilk is still cultured milk, similar to natural yogurt and kefir, but instead of being a by-product of churning most dairies inoculate fresh, pasteurized milk with cultures (harmless lactic acid bacteria) that transform it into the buttermilk we buy in bottles and cartons in stores.


Store bought buttermilk is thicker, tangier, and more acidic than home made, so if you’re preparing a recipe that calls for buttermilk, it’s best to stick with store-bought, especially in baked goods that depend on precise leavening. Many recipes that call for buttermilk include baking soda as part of the leavening, to balance the acidity in the commercial buttermilk.

Here are some ways you can use buttermilk in your next recipe:


Biscuits, Cornbread, Pancakes and Waffles, Marinade for Fried Chicken, Brine for Steaks,

Smoothies, Substitute for Cream in Curries and Soups and Creamy Salad Dressing
















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