Friday, January 22, 2010

Make Your Own Cultured Buttermilk

Hubby loves buttermilk but buttermilk is expensive, unless you can find it on sale. With this in mind, I have been looking into making our own. I came caross a reference to homemade cultured buttermilk by accident about a month ago and that started the chain of research on the subject. Why should culturing bettermilk be difficult. I have been making yogurt for decades. Can this milk culture be any more difficult?

It isn't. Its easier. The culture that makes "cultured" buttermilk will grow at room temperature! That makes it a lot easier to make than yogurt. No warming the milk and keeping it at that warmer temp for eight hours.

This is not real buttermilk. Real buttermilk is what farmers pour off the butter after churning. This is, however, what most people drink from the grocery store, called "cultured" buttermilk. It is a mesophilic culture growing in milk. This is the same culture used to make many cheeses.

I bought a small container of cultered buttermilk at the store. It is important to buy one with live culture. Only a small portion of this is needed to turn a bowl of milk into cultured buttermilk. The process takes about 24 hours at room temperature.
I used storebought 2% milk and let a bowl of it warm to room temperature. I then added about a 2" square amount of buttermilk and left it for 24 hours.

Ta-da! Buttermilk! Thick and delicious!

You can freeze the buttermilk in small pieces, like in an ice cube tray, to use for baking. It is no longer suitable as starter for more buttermilk after it has been frozen. You won't want to drink it after freezing, either.

I don't have ice cube trays, so I put a piece of plastic wrap across the top of a tiny muffin pan and poured buttermilk into each one. I set this in the freezer. When they were hard I put them all in a freezer bag and put back in the freezer. Now I can take out as much as I need for a recipe.

Because we turn our heat down at night, our kitchen is a lot colder than "room temperature". For this reason I left it an extra half day. The next time I make it I will put it in the yogurt maker so the temperature will stay constant. My yogurt maker is a gallon tub in a styrofoam container made for it.


Wretha said...

This sounds similar to something I make called crème fraîche, aka creme fresh. I made it with heavy cream and a spoon of sour cream, you can also substitute buttermilk for the sour cream, some directions I found on line call for heating the heavy cream, I never did, I just add the cour cream (or buttermilk) to the heavy cream, stir it well and leave out, covered loosely on the counter for a day to a day and a half. Refrigerate once it is thick and creamy, it will have a sour, nutty flavor, I love it! Here is a site that has a recipe similar to how I made it:


The Japanese Redneck said...

The only thing that confused me is what is a 2" square amount of buttermilk?

How much 2% milk did you use?

Kim said...

I make my buttermilk and cultured sour cream the same way. It works great and really does save money!

Providence Acres - Sheryl said...

I don't think there is an specific amount of buttermilk required to culture the milk. Its just to add the correct bacteria culture to the milk so it can grow in there. You should be fine with about a 1/4 cup of buttermilk to 2 litres of milk. Stir well.

I fill my 2 litre yogurt maker tub with slightly warm milk and add the warmed buttermilk. I make it in there because we turn the heat down to 10c at night.

Ovenbird said...

I have made buttermilk to use for baking from non-fat dried milk also, and if you make mozzarella cheese, you can use the whey any way you would use buttermilk. From a a gallon of milk you get 8 oz cheese and 3 1/2 quarts of whey.

perfectginger said...

So interesting, thank you!! Unfortunately here in Spain we don´t get buttermilk, we found it once in a supermarket but it seems it´s not there anymore :(. I´ll keep on searching though.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I am wondering why you wouldn't be able to use frozen buttermilk cubes as a starter though ?? I do that with yogurt already and it works just fine. I looked on several sites and there are people who are reporting that they use frozen cubes as starters to make their own buttermilk. (I've only made it once so far using a fresh unfrozen starter but I would like to be able to freeze some in the future, that would be more convenient for me especially since I only have a small glass of buttermilk daily...) I guess I'll have to experiment since I'm a newbie (although I have been making my own yogurt once a week for a year now : 3 containers each time.)

Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm said...

I tried freezing some for starter but when I used it, it didn't make into buttermilk. I don't know why. I would love to be able to freeze starter.

You freeze yogurt in small pieces and use the previously frozen ones for yogurt starter and it works?

Hmmmmm...I'm going to need to try that. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

FYI: It isn't necessary to let the milk or buttermilk come to room temperature before mixing them together.