I’m a pretty cultured person…
Learning how to make buttermilk is one of the easiest things to do if you are just starting out in the world of home dairy. And real homemade buttermilk is out-of-this world.
One word of warning– once you make your first batch of homemade buttermilk, you’ll likely never be satisfied with the store-bought versions again…
If you’re smack-dab in the middle of a baking project and stumbled on this post looking for a quick buttermilk substitute, you won’t want to wait for your milk to culture. Instead, simply add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to 1 cup of milk. Stir. Once you see tiny curdles forming in the milk, you can use it. And then come back later to make real culture buttermilk. 😉
How to Make Buttermilk
First, let’s set the record straight– there are actually two different kinds of buttermilk:
- Cultured buttermilk– this is the kind we’re making today.
- Old-Fashioned or traditional buttermilk — this is the kind resulting from making butter. (Here’s how to make your own butter. )
Although you can use both types of buttermilk to make those buttermilk biscuits or pancakes, cultured buttermilk is my favorite because it is thick and creamy and has the most delightful tangy smell.
Cultured buttermilk is also an excellent probiotic-base for your dips and salad dressings.
How to Make Buttermilk (Cultured Version)
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- 4 cups whole milk (see note below)
- ONE of the following:
*If using 1 cup of cultured buttermilk as your starter, reduce the amount of whole milk to 3 cups.
Gently stir the starter culture into the milk (I use a mason jar) and cover it with a towel and rubber band. Avoid capping it tightly with a lid, as the culture needs room to breathe.
Allow the milk to culture at room temperature for 12-24 hours. When it is complete, the buttermilk will be thick and have a delicious tangy smell.
Store your finished buttermilk in the fridge (it usually lasts at least several weeks for me).
Homemade Buttermilk Notes:
- I always use my raw milk when making homemade buttermilk, although pasteurized milk will work too. Just avoid ultra-pasteurized milk (UHT) as it will produce inconsistent results.
- Although it’s handy to buy the powdered buttermilk culture and store it in your fridge, I prefer using existing cultured buttermilk to make my fresh batches. I think it has a better tang to it.
- Use your tangy homemade buttermilk to create probiotic dips, dressings, and smoothies. Or, use it in your favorite baked goods–like my favorite flaky Buttermilk Biscuits.
- If your buttermilk doesn’t thicken within 12-24 hours, it may be due to one of the following factors:
- The starter culture was dead or inactive
- It needs to culture a bit longer
- Your kitchen is abnormally cold
- If you accidentally culture your buttermilk too long, that’s OK. It’ll just be a little thicker (more like the consistency of yogurt), but it’s still totally usable.
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 1 packet direct-set sour cream culture
- OR ⅛th teaspoon mesophilic starter culture
- OR 1 cup sour cream with live, active cultures
- Gently mix the starter culture into the cream.
- Cover loosely.
- Allow to culture at room temperature for 12-24 hours.
- It should keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.
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