I’ve mentioned in the last couple posts that buttermilk has some wonderful capabilities and now it’s time to look into what types of things you can do with buttermilk. Once again, this is buttermilk made from raw milk cream that is turned into buttermilk. I cannot guarantee and do not suggest that you try culturing buttermilk from store-bought pasteurized cream.
Please refer to my post on how to make butter to get your buttermilk.
According to “Forgotten Skills of Cooking” by Darina Allen: “Buttermilk is the remaining liquid after butter is made. In olden times, this type of buttermilk was considered to be ‘the cure for all ills,’ and a visitor to a farmhouse would invariably be offered a mug of buttermilk. During turf-cutting, haymaking and harvesting, buttermilk was considered to be the best drink to give energy, slake the thirst, and cure a hangover. Young girls washed their faces in buttermilk to improve their complexion, while their mothers and grandmothers used it to make bread.” (pg. 198)
Apparently buttermilk was quite a normal and typical ingredient found in Irish households and was never wasted. Today, most people make buttermilk by adding vinegar or lemon to a cup of milk and calling it good. To me, this cannot be the same amazing buttermilk as we see described above, so what do you do with the buttermilk leftover from butter making?
There are several options. The typical options would be to either: drink it or use it in some sort of cooking. It doesn’t take more than a second to type in buttermilk recipes to a search engine and get thousands of recipes that involve buttermilk. If I make butter close to Sunday we will have buttermilk pancakes apart of our Sunday morning breakfast. Irish soda bread is another recipe that calls for buttermilk as well. When it comes to recipes it seems like the opportunities are endless with buttermilk.
When I make butter what I typically do with buttermilk is leave it on the counter to culture and become cultured buttermilk. Cultured buttermilk has plenty of different options as well. If you are into cheese making, you can use 2 tablespoons of cultured buttermilk as a substitute for a mesophilic start in your cheese. This was a really neat discovery for me, because now I don’t need to buy mesophilic starts anymore, I just simply take the cultured buttermilk and put two tablespoons into a small container and freeze it in the freezer, or if I have it fresh while I’m making cheese I’ll just add it right then.
Another way to use cultured buttermilk is to sour cream. I read several books and blogs that said sour cream was extremely easy to make, just take your cream and leave it out on the counter to sour. Whenever I did that it never tasted or smelled like sour crem and we would always end up throwing it away. However, when I read in a book it explained that by adding 1 tablespoon of cultured buttermilk into a pint of sour cream would sour the cream, I tried it and it set up and tasted like sour cream. Just take one tablespoon of your cultured buttermilk and add it to a pint of cream. Mix well, and leave on the counter for 12-24 hours (or longer) until becomes a semi-solid state that no longer is straight liquid. You can then cap your jar or container and refrigerate it and use it for cooking.
I’m sure there are a million more uses for buttermilk and I’m still just discovering them as I go along. However, most of the time when I get buttermilk, I culture it. This is because I don’t always have a place to use my buttermilk right away and I don’t wish it to spoil, so I culture it and then refrigerate it until I need it. By culturing the buttermilk you are allowing it choose a set of bacteria and then it doesn’t spoil as fast, whereas if you don’t culture it, it has the opportunity to pick up bacteria from other sources, thus causing it to spoil quickly. I use cultured buttermilk is any recipe that calls for normal buttermilk. I haven’t seen any issues with it yet, in fact, it typically gives whatever I’m cooking with a stronger, more distinct flavor, which I enjoy.
Please share any other ways you have used buttermilk in the comments below. There are so many different ways to utilized buttermilk, so feel free to share!