What do you do when you don’t have buttermilk in the fridge? The short horror moment when you discover you have none when your recipe calls for it. Wipe the sweat away, we are here to show you how to make your own buttermilk at home.
We are all familiar with butter and milk as a separate ingredient. But what about buttermilk? That’s what we are about to discover today, what it is, what its uses are for, and the ways on how to make your own buttermilk at home easily. To put it simply, buttermilk is nothing more but a humble, fermented milk. Yet, this humble ingredient holds so much promise and potential in the culinary and baking perspective.
The History of Buttermilk
Back in the olden days, the liquid leftover over from churning butter was referred to as buttermilk. It began as a by-product of butter. As the fat separated from the liquid when the cream is churned, the leftover liquid (buttermilk) would be thinner, milder, and still tasted like butter.
And after some time in the 1920’s, the buttermilk began to be commercially produced and that’s when everything changed. The buttermilk we are familiar today isn’t quite the same anymore. Today, we can see in grocery stores that most of the buttermilk cartons in fact, are consisted of milk that has been further cultured with bacteria—which causes the milk to thicken and sour.
Why is Buttermilk gaining Popularity?
Now you are wondering what’s so great about buttermilk. In fact, what is good for? Well, dear reader, the sweet, buttery baked goods that you love? Buttermilk improves them. Due to the fermentation process in which the buttermilk goes through, it is then made up with a variety of acids. And these acids can provide your baked goods a plenty of benefits, giving them a small edge that you didn’t know you need.
What’s not to like about it? While buttermilk isn’t as sour as lemon juice or vinegar, it still has a nice sourness to it that is not overbearing, giving you a subtle tang—acting as a nice palate cleanser from all the sugar and rich fats that you might be consuming. And because it’s also acidic in nature, you can use buttermilk as a tenderizer. Yes, you will soon learn enough that brining chicken in buttermilk is a Chef’s go-to for a more tender, crispier, and juicier fried chicken. But that’s not all, readers. With it acting as a tenderizer, it eats away the long strand of gluten giving your baked goods like cakes, muffins, or quick breads a good rise, and oh, makes them moist too. Since it is thicker and creamier compared to milk, adding buttermilk to your baked goods come out softer and richer.
Now before you head out to some Buttermilk...
Hold your tracks… because all too often, we tend to buy buttermilk for only a single use (when we notice a recipe calling for it). And it is later stored somewhere in your refrigerator, and then forgotten until it is too late. Short horror story right there. Maybe that’s just one of the reasons why some of us get reluctant and do not go out of our way to get buttermilk from a grocery store or supermarket.
In some countries too, buttermilk can be considered as a luxury and in some places, they are not readily available too. Let’s also not forget the situations some of us has been in where we are in the midst of following a recipe, then realizing we do not have buttermilk in our pantry. To say the least, it is frustrating.
But the frustration ends today. Because good news! For whatever reason you would have for not buying buttermilk—whether it is pricing, availability, or perishability concerns, you can always make your own one. Read on and we will show you just how to make your own buttermilk at home. It’s very simple! Aside from that, we will also enlighten you on what you can do with the leftover. Sounds good?
The DIY Buttermilk... the Easy Buttermilk Substitute.
Because buttermilk can be pricey and one of the most treasured kitchen ingredients, it’s not something we can all have the means to buy or necessarily have easy access to. So, what’s a good buttermilk substitute that comes close and you can make easily? Well, we have got just the solutions for you…
Let’s make Buttermilk
Since store-bought buttermilk is typically made from milk with added lactic bacteria these days, all you need are just a few ingredients. Chances are, you already have those ingredients in your pantry! Here are some of the few ways you can make buttermilk. Go on and select the one that’s most convenient for you based on what you have.
To make 1 cup of Buttermilk:
- Option 1: White Vinegar (1 tablespoon) + Milk (1 cup)
- Option 2: Lemon Juice (1 tablespoon) + Milk (1 cup)
- Option 3: Cream of tartar (1 and ¾ teaspoon) + Milk (1 cup)
Just pour the 1 tablespoon of Vinegar into a 1 cup measurer (approximately 250ml) and then fill the rest of the measuring cup with milk. Gently stir the mixture and let it settle for about 5 minutes. Your DIY Buttermilk is considered done. If you don’t have the vinegar, just substitute it with the lemon juice or cream of tartar with the following measurements as shown above.
Dairy-Free Buttermilk Substitution
Dairy allergies? No worries, we have got you covered. Here’s a recipe for a dairy free buttermilk substitution that you can enjoy. Instead of using 1 cup of milk, just use coconut milk instead. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose-free, so it can be used as a milk substitute for those with lactose intolerance. And, like before, add vinegar or lemon juice to a 1 cup measurer and then fill the rest of it with the coconut milk and there you have it, a dairy-free buttermilk substitute ready for you.
If you have a dairy allergy, you can also use this buttermilk substitute recipe with a small adaptation. Instead of using 1 cup of milk, use coconut milk! So, add vinegar or lemon juice to a 1 cup measurer and then fill the rest of the measuring cup with coconut milk. Voila! I dairy-free buttermilk substitute.
Vegan Buttermilk Substitution
You’re vegan? We’ve got your back too. You can always use the dairy-free substitute as mentioned earlier or you can substitute the coconut milk with soy milk. All you have to do is add 1 tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice to the 1 cup measurer and fill the rest of it with soy milk. Like before, stir it and let it rest for about 5 minutes before you use it—a vegan buttermilk substitution made easy.
Is it possible to freeze Buttermilk?
The answer is ‘yes’! To make sure your buttermilk freezes well, have it stored in a sealed container, that way, it will last in your freezer for up to 3 months. Another convenient way of storing buttermilk is to freeze them in 1 tablespoon portions using an ice cube tray. This method is essentially useful if you are planning to use just a small amount of buttermilk for your needs. Once frozen, these buttermilk cubes can be stored in a freezer bag and because they have been measured, you only need to take the number of tablespoons that your recipe calls for.
While you can freeze buttermilk, do keep in mind that it can only last for two to three weeks once you have opened it. To know if your buttermilk has gone bad, there are some signs you can look out for:
- It becomes too thick to pour or measure.
- It becomes discolored or looks mouldy.
- It smells sour (in a bad way) and is less buttery-tasting.
So, opening it and having it last for two to three weeks is not all that bad. In fact, it does give you some time to use it wisely. We will show you just what you can do with the buttermilk later, but for now, you will need to know how to use them when they are frozen.
How to use Frozen Buttermilk
Let the frozen buttermilk cubes thaw overnight in the refrigerator. Or if you are pressed for time, you can always use the microwave and have them melt at a low power. Because the solids and the whey in the buttermilk are separated when it is frozen, you will have to whisk the buttermilk or run it in a blender until the solids and whey comes together again before using it in your recipe.
Now we can finally move on to the things you can do with your (leftover) buttermilk.
What can you do with Leftover Buttermilk?
It’s clear we all love experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen. But what we don’t enjoy is the items we buy for those experiments to go to waste for that one-time use only. We get it—not all of us are great cooks in the kitchen and sometimes we just don’t know what to do with leftover ingredients!
Relatable? If yes, then here’s some saving grace for you. Are you ready? The amazing news is that buttermilk is extremely versatile! If you think about it too, it would be such a shame to let this sought-after thick and rich liquid go to waste. So, if you ever find yourself with too much buttermilk, don’t panic. In fact, know that you are blessed and that there are plenty of recipes calling out for your precious buttermilk. Time to make your pastries soar and your chickens juicier than ever! Go ahead and use your buttermilk to make…
Buttermilk Fried Chicken
Mentioned earlier, buttermilk works marvellously as a meat tenderizer. AND also a great marinade. While harsher acids like lemon juice or vinegar can tenderize, they can also dry out the meat. But soaking chicken in buttermilk helps the chicken stay juicy while tenderizing the meat. So, brine your chicken in buttermilk. Ideally, you should marinate the chicken in buttermilk for 12 to 24 hours.
Fun fact: Our Rich’s Double Cream, though not a buttermilk, also helps to tenderise chicken. Of course, there’s more to it. It is a multi-purpose cream that is versatile and consists of up to 30% fat content which can be used for culinary, pastry, and beverage applications. Read all about it here.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes
What buttermilk gives to mashed potatoes is a rich creaminess and a tangy depth. As soon as you have mashed your potatoes, add in enough buttermilk to make them extra creamy (the way you like them to be). Super easy to make that it makes you wonder why you never made buttermilk mashed potatoes all this while.
Mmm, don’t you love those honey butter biscuits from Texas Chicken? Aha, now you don’t have to go to your nearest Texas Chicken joint to enjoy some of those when you can make your own buttermilk biscuits! When you’re making biscuits, you use buttermilk for its acidity as well as its fat and liquid content. Tender and buttery, you will earn heaps of praise from your families.
Ask anyone if they love buttermilk pancakes and you will get an eager nod. There’s a reason why buttermilk pancakes are a classic in the West. Tender with a slight tang, whisk all the ingredients you need for a pancake and include buttermilk in it too. The resulting pancakes will be as light-as-a-feather. And because you just need to mix everything together before you pop the batter into the pan, it becomes a fast breakfast treat for children or a fantastic weekend brunch with friends and family.
Loved this information?
These are just few of the food you can make with buttermilk, and the list can go on. Tell us, have you ever made your own buttermilk? We’d love to hear your experiences! That said, we hope you have found this article to be useful.
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