Friday, January 21, 2011

Homemade Buttermilk

There are so many delicious recipes out there that call for buttermilk.  I hardly ever buy it, however, because it is so expensive.  Last week one quart of buttermilk on sale at WinCo cost one dollar.  One dollar doesn’t seem like much, but that’s $4 per gallon!  Consequently, I usually substitute sour milk.

That all changed about two weeks ago.  I was attending a women’s event at my church when one of the ladies, Suzy, mentioned that she had made Kimiko’s corn bread.  She went on to tell me that she used homemade buttermilk and said it is really easy.  I was shocked because I had previously looked it up in a cookbook I have and it was really complicated.  The next day I started my own batch of buttermilk.  I have since used it to make pancakes, buttermilk biscuits, and dumplings.  Thanks to Suzy, my baking has been revolutionized!

Like she said, it’s really easy!  Originally, the term buttermilk referred to the liquid leftover after making butter.  Today, buttermilk is milk that has been cultured with bacteria.  You do need to buy some buttermilk to start out, but once you start, you can just keep replenishing what you have with milk.  That means this buttermilk costs the same as milk!  I made one batch with skim milk and another with 1%.  Both turned out great.

Don’t let this recipe scare you just because you leave it out of the fridge for two days.  If you keep it in a sealed container and then store it at proper fridge temperatures once it is cultured, it will be perfectly safe.  The starter bacteria reproduce rapidly.  As long as you keep your milk and buttermilk free from contamination, those good bacteria will prevent bad bacteria from thriving.  Of course, you should discard any batch that turns color or develops an odor.

My buttermilk is culturing on the microwave.

Be sure to shake or stir your buttermilk before using it.  This homemade version is a lot thicker than the store-bought kind but still substitutes cup for cup.

Homemade Buttermilk
2 Tbsp. cultured buttermilk
1 qt. milk

Combine buttermilk and milk in a 1-quart container.  Shake to mix.  Leave out at room temperature for 2 days.  Refrigerate and use as needed.

This is another of my favorite kitchen tools--
Chef Shot.  It's perfect for measuring small
amounts of liquids.  A similar one is available
here:  Harold Mini Measuring Glass

When you run low, start over again with 2 Tbsp. of your homemade buttermilk or simply add more milk to your container.

I had about 1/2 cup left in this container so
I just added more milk to start over.

Yield:  1 quart.  Total cost:  the cost of your milk; for me, about $0.50/quart or $2/gallon.


Kristin said...

Will that "starter" keep indefinitely in the fridge?

Sumiko said...

Hi, Kristin! I would probably discard all but 2 Tbsp. after 2 or 3 weeks and start over. I'm sure it would be safe to use longer than that, especially since it will be baked or cooked. But to be on the safe side, I'm going to say a couple of weeks. If you make a batch or two of pancakes every couple weeks, you'll use it before then. And for me, it would be cost-effective to have to throw out a batch every now and then than buy buttermilk every time I need it. Hope this helps!!

William said...


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