Cultured buttermilk is more than just soured milk used for baking. It is a probiotic beverage with a slightly cottage cheese-like flavor.
Made with a mesophilic (room temperature loving) culture, means it is REALLY easy! So homemade buttermilk is a simple and delicious alternative to homemade yogurt and milk kefir.
Types of Buttermilk
Homemade buttermilk falls into three different types:
- Leftover from churning butter: Traditionally buttermilk is the leftover liquid from churning butter. It is quite thin and slightly sweet. It’s really fun and easy to make homemade butter.
- Soured milk: Many homemade buttermilk recipes involve mixing milk with lemon juice or vinegar to create soured milk that is only good for baking. It lacks all the flavor that comes with cultured buttermilk.
- Cultured buttermilk: Cultured buttermilk is usually made by fermenting skim milk with a bacteria culture. Not only is REALLY easy to make, it’s packed full of flavor and probiotics!
Where to find culture for homemade buttermilk
The hardest part of making buttermilk is finding a good culture!
Not all grocery store brands of buttermilk have a good culture. You may have to experiment with a few different brands to find something that works. Here are a few things to look for:
- Smaller dairies
- Organic dairies
- Avoid short expiry dates (you want the freshest culture available)
Saving buttermilk culture
Buttermilk can be recultured over and over again. The only trick is to make sure that you maintain a vigorous culture. Here is how to save your culture for future batches of buttermilk:
- Buttermilk needs to be recultured every week to remain vigorous.
- Alternatively, freeze portions 1/2 cup of buttermilk for future batches. It will remain vigorous for at least 4 months.
How To Use Cultured Buttermilk
Here are a few ways to enjoy cultured buttermilk:
- Buttermilk is perfect for providing acidity in soda bread, pancakes, and muffins.
- It can be served as a mild-tasting yogurt. To make thick, yogurt-like buttermilk, heat the milk like you would for yogurt, to denature the proteins. Then let it cool to room temperature before stirring in the culture. There’s no need to use a yogurt maker because it prefers temperatures around 72 F (22 C).
- Fermented buttermilk is perfect for smoothies.
- We use it instead of milk on our cereal in the morning. (I’m not even sure my kids know what cereal tastes like without fermented milk)!
- Culturing milk with buttermilk is a great way to preserve milk while camping or traveling. It doesn’t need to be kept cool.
Buttermilk can be made by fermenting milk with a buttermilk culture. Cultured buttermilk is a flavorful and probiotic drink. It is a delicious substitute for yogurt and perfect for baking!
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Total Time: 5 minutes
- Yield: 2 1/2 cups 1x
- Category: Beverage
- Method: Fermented
- Cuisine: Traditional
- Diet: Vegetarian
- 2 cups milk (whole or skim)
- 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk
- Mix the buttermilk and milk in a clean glass jar.
- Put the lid on the jar and leave the jar to ferment on the counter for 4-12 hours (see notes). Buttermilk thickens best at temperatures of around 68F to 86F (20C to 30C). So expect it to take a bit longer if it’s colder than that.
- Taste the buttermilk to decide when it is done. It should taste slightly sour and a bit like cottage cheese.
- Store in the refrigerator and use within 2 weeks.
- The first time you make buttermilk, it may take a little longer (up to 24 hours) to achieve a nice flavor. It will depend on the quality of your buttermilk culture. However, once you’ve established your culture, it should ferment quickly.
- If it hasn’t fermented within 24 hours, then the culture wasn’t alive and vigorous. If this happens, then I recommend trying a different brand. See the section above for more information on finding good buttermilk cultures.
- To maintain an active culture, make buttermilk at least once a week. See the section above for other options.
Keywords: probiotic, cultured, gluten free, easy, healthy, yogurt, kefir