How to Make Buttermilk

Learning how to make buttermilk is one of the easiest ways to create a cultured product from your fresh goat milk.

As with other cultured milk products, buttermilk contains significantly less lactose than regular milk, due to the conversion of lactose to lactic acid during the fermentation process. Many people who are lactose intolerant enjoy drinking fresh buttermilk as a replacement for milk in their diets.

The lactic acid in buttermilk gives it a tangy taste, and also provides for a long shelf life (often several weeks), as bacteria can not generally grow in an acidic environment.

Buttermilk is also thicker than regular milk, though still fluid, due to the "clabbering" of the milk proteins as a result of the lower pH.

Buttermilk is made from pasteurized milk and a starter of fresh cultured buttermilk.

Buy the buttermilk with the longest time to the expiration date, as the starter bacteria die out over time, making the buttermilk "weaker" as a culturing agent.

To make a quart of buttermilk:

  • Warm 3 cups of milk to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Add 1 cup of cultured buttermilk, and stir well.
  • Pour mixture into a clean quart canning jar, and tighten the lid.
  • You can sterilize the jar first by boiling in water for 10 minutes.
    Adding Buttermilk Culture to Milk

    Pouring Buttermilk Mixture into a Jar

    Shake the jar to mix thoroughly.

  • Leave at room temperature for 12-24 hours.

Alternatively, you can cover the pot in which you warmed the milk, and let culture in the pot.

When the buttermilk is ready, it will be thick enough to leave a coating on the sides of a glass. If your buttermilk does not thicken within 24 hours, the starter was likely bad. Start over, making sure to use the freshest buttermilk available.
Buttermilk Mixture in a Jar

Buttermilk Coating on a Glass



Store your fresh buttermilk in the refrigerator for up to 3 or 4 weeks.

Tip: Each time you make a quart of buttermilk, save the last cup from it to make your next quart, and you'll have a never-ending supply for making pancakes, biscuits, waffles and dressings.

Make Buttermilk or Sour Cream at Home

An alternative to using a store-bought buttermilk "mother" culture is to use a direct set culture like this one from Cultures for Health.

In addition to buttermilk, this mesophilic culture can also be used to make Crème Fraiche and cultured butter.


Using Your Buttermilk

You can replace milk with buttermilk in baked goods for lighter, fluffier breads and cakes.

Note: Always shake or stir buttermilk well before using, as the heavier portions tend to settle to the bottom over time.

Favorite Buttermilk Pancake Recipe

I've made pancakes with this recipe using fresh goat buttermilk for many years. They taste great, and freeze well, too.

Mix together the following in a large bowl:

  • 2 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. sugar

Then, add:

  • 2 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 Tbs. vegetable oil

Stir until smooth. If your buttermilk was very thick, you may need to add a little water to thin the batter, depending on whether you like thicker, heavier cakes, or thinner, lighter ones.

Pour by 1/4 cupfuls onto hot griddle, and turn when the edges begin to bubble.

Dressing

Use with commercial dip mixes to make fresh salad dressing. Replace the sour cream, cream cheese or mayonnaise in the directions with buttermilk.

Now that you don't have to run to the store each time you need buttermilk for a recipe, you're sure to find a lot more creative uses for it than you ever dreamed before!


Articles are updated frequently, so check back here for any new information related to how to make buttermilk!

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