Homemade Cultured Buttermilk

I use a lot of buttermilk.  And by ‘a lot’ I mean a ton.  Many of my baked goods contain buttermilk.  Much of my salad dressing uses buttermilk.  And The Evil Genius?  He drinks buttermilk. *  We go through a lot of the stuff.  And I may have mentioned that I live in the middle of nowhere in Amish country before (or a million times before, but who’s counting?) so frequent last minute trips to the store are not convenient.

*Now before any of you out there yawp with a resounding, “EW!” let me just mention that millions of Southerners and displaced Southerners are right now saying, “Mmmmmmmm! A nice tall glass of buttermilk with salt and pepper sounds mighty fine right now.”  A reminder: never yuck another person’s yum.  Unless we’re talking durian, then all bets are off… (You may want to read about my family vs. Durian.)

There are probably quite a few of you out there saying, “Oh pish,” (Someone other than me says that, right?), “All you have to do is add a little vinegar or lemon juice to milk and you get the same thing.  Why buy buttermilk?”  See?  I just knew someone out there was saying it.  Not so fast!  It’s not the same thing.  To prove my point, I have to make a scientific sidebar.

Scientific Sidebar Alert!

Buttermilk is used in recipes for several important reasons:

  • Buttermilk is acidic, so it helps invigorate leavening agents -such as baking powder, baking soda and yeast- when added to baked goods.  The acid also helps combat discoloration in baked goods and promotes deep, beautiful browning.
  • Buttermilk contains natural emulsifiers; this improves texture and aroma, and extends shelf life after baking.
  • Remember how buttermilk is acidic?  That makes it a wonderful addition to marinades for chicken and pork.  The acid helps tenderize the meat and gives it a tangy flavor.
  • You know the ‘cultured’ part of cultured buttermilk?  It’s good for you. It contains many active cultures similar to those found in yogurt. Most of the cultures generally found in buttermilk are form the Lactococcus Lactis family and many of their subspecies.  Those cultures are what make buttermilk so thick and creamy.  And what?  Good for you!

Now that you know more than you probably ever wanted to know about buttermilk let’s get onto the ‘Why make my own?’ thing.  Because you can.  Seriously.  You need more than that?  Okay.  Also make it because it’s dirt cheap, it’s super simple, it’s really fun and you’ll never run out of buttermilk again.

Hang on one second.  Someone out there just said, “I never use a whole thing of buttermilk.  What do I do with all that buttermilk?”  I’m so glad you asked.  How about a few of these ideas:

Bacon and Swiss Rye Muffins These are every bit as good as they sound and as easy as pie.  No wait!  They’re easier than pie.  Pie can be hard.

Buttermilk Cornbread Rounds Based on my Grandma’s Buttermilk Cornbread recipe, these perfectly portioned cornbread rounds fit neatly in the hand and go anywhere cornbread goes, but look cuter doing it!  This one’s going a little way back in the FWF archives.  When you read it, please forgive the “I’m learning” format!

Buttermilk Pancakes Nothing beats beautiful, light, airy buttermilk pancakes smothered in real maple syrup.  Nothing.  This one’s also reaching back.  Wow.  I played around with those fonts and indentations a bit, didn’t I?

Garam Masala Depression Cake from Val.  Nothin’ depressing about THAT cake, I’ll tell you. We’re talking about a decadent, Garam Masala flavored chocolate cake with orange buttercream and toasted coconut.  Oh my. I only take issue with the number of servings Val specified in it.  It looks like a one-person cake to me.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention these others…

Are you good and hungry yet?  Excellent.  Let’s make some buttermilk.  I promise it doesn’t take but two shakes.

Homemade Cultured Buttermilk

Scroll to the bottom for an easy-print version of this recipe!


  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk (from the store or home cultured)
  • 1 to 2 quarts skim,1%,  2%, or whole milk from the store or raw milk

Also needed:

  • 1 clean, dry quart or half gallon jar with a tight fitting two piece lid.

Okay.  Ready?  If you blink you’ll miss how to do it.

Pour buttermilk (1/4 cup for a quart jar or 1/2 cup for a half gallon jar) into your clean jar.  Top off the jar with your plain milk.  Tightly screw lid to the jar and shake vigorously for 1 minute.  Place in a warm (but not hot) area out of direct sunlight.  Let it sit there for 12 to 24 hours, until thickened.  Refrigerate when thick.  Use within two weeks.  If you re-culture this regularly, you can carry on re-culturing indefinitely.  I always feel like I’m stickin’ it to the man when I do homemade stuff like this.  Who doesn’t love beating the system?

Now here’s a glimpse of my finished product.  Note that mine is super thick.  I used raw, whole milk to culture my buttermilk.  If you use skim, it may end up a little thinner than what you see here.

4.2 from 13 reviews
Homemade Cultured Buttermilk
Prep time
Total time
Once you've made this you'll never want to go back to storebought cultured buttermilk or vinegar soured milk. This is thick and creamy and tangy and perfect.
Recipe type: Ingredient, Condiment, Home Cheese Making
Serves: 12
  • ¼ to ½ cup cultured buttermilk (from the store or home cultured)
  • 1 to 2 quarts skim,1%, 2%, or whole milk from the store or raw milk
  • Also needed:
  • 1 clean, dry quart or half gallon jar with a tight fitting two piece lid.
  1. Okay. Ready? If you blink you'll miss how to do it.
  2. Pour buttermilk (1/4 cup for a quart jar or ½ cup for a half gallon jar) into your clean jar. Top off the jar with your plain milk. Tightly screw lid to the jar and shake vigorously for 1 minute. Place in a warm (but not hot) area out of direct sunlight. Let it sit there for 12 to 24 hours, until thickened. Refrigerate when thick. Use within two weeks.
If you re-culture this regularly, you can carry on re-culturing indefinitely. I always feel like I'm stickin' it to the man when I do homemade stuff like this. Who doesn't love beating the system?



  1. says

    Silly question, I’m sure, but I’m just learning so much stuff lately. Why does it need to be a 2 part lid? Because you were so specific in the direction, I just wanted to be ask in case I was missing something along the way.

    I’m looking forward to this, actually. I’ll be one of those that says ewwwwwwwwww because I hate milk. Really. I’m transitioning my kids back to whole milk, but they aren’t buttermilk fans, either. However, even if we’re not drinking it, I definitely want to be cooking/baking with it more.

    • Rebecca says

      Thanks for the support Valli!

      Darcy- Not a silly question at all! I specified the two-piece lid because it is what more folks have available to them. If you have another equally tight fitting lid, you can certainly use that in place of the two-piece lid! I’m not a milk drinker either, but I certainly do enough cooking with it.

  2. Amanda says

    Brilliant! I am always looking for ways to make things at home and save some money. I have a question though. How do you re-culture the mixture?

    • Rebecca says

      Amanda- Good question. You save the last 1/4 cup of the jar of buttermilk you made and pour it into a clean jar which you top off with fresh milk, shake, and let rest at room temperature again. If you re-culture it at least once a week and use clean jars, you should be able to re-culture indefinitely!

  3. says

    You have just changed my life! I NEVER have buttermilk on hand so I’ve been making it the vinegar route but thinking it’s not as good. Who knew I could culture my own and it would keep for 2 weeks?!

    By reculture, do you mean taking some of the old buttermilk and mixing with the new milk and repeating the process? Just want to make sure I do this right.

  4. Traci says

    I love love love this post!! Recipes that use buttermilk are my fav..but it’s so expensive! I normally do the whole lemon juice trick…but never again! Thanks for saving us more money and making our food better! :)

  5. says

    I am raising my 9 month old daughter to be a good eater (I hope lol) and somehow ended up on your web site. I love your photos and writing. By the way, you’ve almost convinced me to try drinking buttermilk!!

    I got a recognition award from a fellow blogger the other day. Very Nice. I was asked to pass it on to other bloggers I like. You are on the list. Check out the posting at my blog, Global Table…


  6. Christine says

    Hi from up in Canada in Vancouver! I learned of your site some time ago from Food and Whine and have been quietly making TONS of your stuff and failing to thank you or comment on how marvelous it has all been (ok I was worried about the black beans when I tasted part way through, but they were great and perfect with the also muy delicioso cuban pork)!

    On to buttermilk. The current buttermilk in my fridge (hopefully destined for some kind of supermoist and dense lemon poppyseed or blueberry muffin or bread – got a favourite recipe for that?) doesn’t say “cultured” but the ingredient list mentions bacterial culture – do you think I can assume I’ve got the right stuff? Does it matter if I top off whole milk “starter” with skim milk or vice versa? I think it would be handy to have both on hand…

    Final confession – being especially northern I don’t drink buttermilk, but really love extensively tasting raw batter for baked goods that contain it…. I bet everybody else does too!

    Thanks for everything!

  7. says

    Very cool post!

    I have been making “buttermilk” with vinegar for awhile now and I’m actually glad to see a better method. I don’t really use a lot of buttermilk so I hate having to buy it for just a small amount and then always wasting the rest when it goes bad.

    Thanks Rebecca!

  8. says

    Ooh, I’m very excited about this. I’m one of those ppl who has a buttermilk container sitting in the fridge since the last time I needed it – wondering if buttermilk can actually “go bad.”

    But, if I made a science project out of it, I might be more “vested” in the project. Perhaps I would make some of those scrumptious looking buttermilk pancakes or garam masala cake you featured! Yum!

    (Waves at Darcy and Lisa.)
    Lisa – thanks for telling us about this gal.
    Looks like this blog is a keeper – adding it to my read regularly list :)

  9. Rebecca says

    Lisa Glad you found me! (Thank you, Krysta!)

    Mayberry Magpie- Hi Joan! You got it right. Reculturing is just taking a little of the current batch to make a new batch. It’s like the dairy gift that keeps on giving.

    Ranee- Bad is good! Down with government! (That’s a ‘The Tick’ quote in case my nefarious blog is being monitored.)

    Traci- You are mighty welcome! Thanks for being here.

    Sascha-Thanks for the sweet award and thank you for raising an adventurous eater!

    Christine-) You can definitely mix and match your starter and milk butterfat. Go where your whimsy takes you! It’s very forgiving… And thank YOU for everything. It’s nice to know people are playing along in the kitchen with me. :-)

    Liam-First, great name. I’m pretty partial to it myself… :-) Second, you’re welcome. It’s fun, isn’t it?

    DanaMc-Yay! I’m excited that you’re excited. And I’m glad Lisa’s bringing her friends along. Party at my house. I’ll provide the buttermilk. :-)

  10. Susan says

    Thanks so much for the buttermilk recipe. After I made some I remembered hearing Paula Dean mentioning on her show that you could make creme fraiche. I did some searching and found it!!! To one cup of heavy cream (not ultra pastuerized) add either 2 tablespoons of sour cream or buttermilk and keep out at room temperature (covered) for at least 4 hours or overnight. After it’s thickened, cover with cling wrap and put it in the refrigerator. This is much cheaper than creme fraiche but it may take some looking to find the heavy cream that is not ultra pasteurized. Some health food stores have it and I found it at Trader Joe’s.

  11. Rebecca says

    Susan- You are most welcome! And there really is nothing like homemade creme fraiche, is there? You’re absolutely right about how finding non-ultrapasteurized cream is the tricky part. Even when you’re watching for it it’s hard to find. Booo. I just hit up my friends with dairy cows. :-)

  12. Trish says

    I’m on a “homemade” mission as of late and plan on making butter tomorrow. I apologize for the novice question that will soon follow…Is the liquid that remains after making butter considered buttermilk? Would the remnants be “cultured buttermilk” or is there a process that would transform them into this much sought after substance? I only ask because I plan on making cream cheese with the “buttermilk” after the butter experiment is complete. Thanks for any insight you have to offer!

    • Rebecca says

      Hiya Trish- Great question! When you make butter, the liquid that comes off is indeed old-fashioned buttermilk. It is a very low-fat product as most of the fat globules have gone into the butter. Old-fashioned buttermilk, because of it’s incredibly low fat content, is not usually used in cheese making. I have not used it successfully for cheese making.

      Cultured buttermilk, as purchased in stores, is generally a direct-cultured (i.e. good bacterial cultures directly introduced to) skim milk. It is also low-fat, but the cultures thicken it. You could do an experiment with the old-fashioned buttermilk by adding 1 part store-bought cultured buttermilk to 3 parts old-fashioned buttermilk, shaking, and leaving at room temperature for 24 hours. If it clabbers (thickens) then it is now cultured low-fat buttermilk.

  13. Becky says

    I’m am so glad I found your excellent post. I’ve been getting raw milk (Jersey cows; delicious) for about a month now, but since I have to drive 40 minutes one way to pick it up, I felt compelled to get TWO gallons a week (it’s only $3 a gallon) so I didn’t run out (or use up more “food miles” than my conscience would allow…).

    But, this has meant I’m often left with milk, at the end of the week. A friend sent me some of her kefir grains, and after my initial fear, that’s working great and we’re enjoying our home made kefir. BUT that didn’t use up enough.

    So…I found this page! And it worked! Beautifully, in fact, and almost 24 hours to the minute, from when I started it. (Mine is yellower than your picture, because the cows are now on grass, and their milk has turned yellow) It feels like magic…like alchemy! I’ve turned straw into gold, I’ve found an endless supply of the Good Stuff. Almost still can’t believe it, but there it is, in the jar, labeled and ready to make delicious foods.

    Thanks so much for the excellent instructions and pictures.

  14. Mandy says

    I just wanted you to know I have been making this buttermilk since you posted this and I love it! Thanks so much, I bake a lot so I use a lot of buttermilk, and I love being able to make my own- better, cheaper and ready when I need it!
    I just have to be sure to leave a note under the jar saying “leave out” so no one does me the favor of putting the buttermilk in the fridge when it is being cultured.

  15. Jan says

    I really want to make homemade bmilk but right now the only milk available to me is unhom. store bought milk. I’m worried about leaving this milk on the counter for 12 to 24 hrs. Is it safe to leave this out over night. If you could answer this I would love it!

  16. Lisa says

    I have to say that your site has really rocked my world. From finding out about the Artisan Bread in Five books (wow, who knew I could bake bread!) to this. I have made this twice now. The first time with skim milk, I wasn’t too pleased with the texture. It looked kind of seperated, not smooth. The second batch, I used 2% milk and got a much better result. I am totally hooked. What a great site. You are truely an inspiration!

  17. Robbie says

    Hi all — I am a lifelong buttermilk fan, so am thrilled to find this site. I went hunting for how to make my own, as I always wish I had more than what I have. One great way to use it? In the blender with chunks of frozen ripe bananas or strawberries(or any other fruit, really), maybe a little honey or other sweetener. It is so refreshing — tastes kind of like liquid cheesecake, and makes a wonderful breakfast when the weather is hot.

  18. says

    “you re-culture this regularly, you can carry on re-culturing indefinitely.” This is very true. In India, they have been re-culturing yogurt and buttermilk for more than 3,000 years! In my own family, we have a 40-year uninterrupted line of yogurt!

  19. Laura says

    We have been drinking raw milk for ages but I am still trying to learn to work with it beyond just drinking it. I hate that I didn’t grow up in the kitchen with some wonderful farm wife so I’d just know all the things I want to know…. I do make yogurt, so that I can do, and I’ve done butter.

    So my questions:
    -Sometime we drink all our milk, sometimes we don’t. Is it better when making butter, yogurt, buttermilk, etc to use the milk at it’s freshest? B/c I sometimes don’t know until the end of the week that I’ll have extra.

    -How would I make home cultured buttermilk? Buy starter and go from there?

    -If a baking recipe calls for milk, can I always sub buttermilk? If so, are the proportions the same? Do I also need to adjust the baking soda, baking powder or yeast???

    Thanks in advance. So glad to have found this!


  20. says

    Thank you for the recipe. I have been looking for a simple 1 2 3 recipe.
    Also thanks for the great recipe ideas I want to give them a try.
    Keep on Cooking,

  21. says

    I stumbled across this thanks to the wonders of Google…
    I have been searching high and low to try and find away to make buttermilk at home, from raw milk WITHOUT the use of a store-bought starter. Every recipe I can find says: “Raw milk buttermilk!!” and then proceeds with directions to add an amount of store-bought (read: pasteurized!) buttermilk as a starter. Can you say frustrating?
    So…your recipe says “home cultured” and I’m just wondered…do you mean home-cultured as-in “not using a store bought for starter”? And if so, would you share? :-)

  22. Bryan says

    I have been enjoying reading your blog posts. You have quite a few interesting recipes I would like to try. I do have a concern with this one, though. If the buttermilk ever gets a bad bacteria in it, it will never be killed. It will continually grow and move from batch to batch through your culture seed. I understand that its not a guarantee that you will get sick, but its high risk. For anyone else concerned about safety, be sure to warm the batch up enough to pasteurize it before moving to the next batch (don’t overcook though!). That way you wont contaminate your future batches. This is the way yogurt is typically done..

  23. Connie says

    Hi Rebecca, I also love buttermilk and use it all the time. Does it matter what type of buttermilk you use? Lowfat or whole? I also read your story on the durian. I never laughed so hard. I had tears in my eyes. Thanks for a great story, recipes and blog.

  24. Nate says

    Hi all, Just a quick question. I tried my culturing my first buttermilk and used whole milk, pasteurized, non-homogenized. It’s pretty thick stuff and still has a lot of cream in it. At 19 hrs I check the milk and its thick, tangy, smells almost cheese like. It seems to be thicker than what is pictured here and is just a little thinner than store bought yogurt, is this normal? Did i leave it too long? Or would the high cream content cause this?

    • Rebecca says

      Nate- That’s pretty normal! The high cream content does create a much thicker end product.

      Connie- No. It doesn’t matter! I’m so glad you’re along for the ride.

      Harold- Thank you muchly! You said it better than I could’ve. Just be sure your jar is sterile and if you’re concerned pasteurize the milk.

      I’ll get back to everyone else, soon! It’s been nutty nuts here lately… I haven’t forgotten you all. :-)

      • Lisa says

        Glad Nate asked that question. I made buttermilk with a culture I purchased from amazon and used whole milk that I spiked with heavy cream and ended up with some seriously think yogurt type of stuff. next time I will use straight up whole milk and leave it on the counter. will it work if I put it in my yogurt maker as well or will that get too warm do you think?

        Thanks for your time and for sharing the recipe. :)

        • says

          Thank you for checking in, Lisa. I’m not sure whether the yogurt maker will help or hinder you, not knowing your usual ambient temp in the room vs. your yogurt maker’s temp. I’d love to hear your results if you play around with it, though!

  25. Harold says

    Just to reiterate, when you buy the store bought stuff it has to say on the bottle “cultured buttermilk” or it won’t work. I also heard that sour cream is from the same culture strain.

    As for the contamination fear, Be sure that the container is super clean before starting. You can pasteurize your store bought sweet milk to a temp of 180 degrees and then let it cool to 80 to 90 degrees and then add your “starter” If the milk is too hot it will kill your starter.

    I used to work for a milk bottling plant and we added salt to the mix, since making my own I often wonder why we added salt, It tastes good without it.

  26. Bethann says

    I do not have buttermilk on hand to use as a starter. I do have raw milk. I also have this product, but am unsure if it will start a batch right?
    Anyway, I tried. I just have a cup in my fridge now until I figure it out. 4 TB of the stuff added to 1 cup raw milk. Another site said it wasn’t what you really wanted.

    Something else I would love to do: culture my own. But how? There’s so much on the web that I get all confused and dunno what to try. I hate to waste my milk! It’s gold! I have a half gallon in the crock pot to do yogurt now, 1 cup of cream in a jar to sour, and had 1 cup I was going to make butter with. Disaster today with that! My food processor ran forever and: nada. After 20 min. I just put it in the fridge. I have made it before with success. I have no idea why it didn’t work this time. Wierd.



  28. jenny vega says

    i made my own cultured buttermilk. i didnt find the way to do it here until today. i used a different ladys way of doing it. She had me fill my pint jar with cream, then add 2 tbsp of clabbered milk to it. then let sit out. She then said that you can scrape off the top solid stuff and use for butter and the rest is the buttermilk. in my jar the finished product was as she described. the top was pretty solid, the middle was whey and the bottom looked like your picture. i scrapped off the top and made butter (of course i had to add cream), then i mixed the rest together. is this right? i’m hoping this is cultured buttermilk and not a waste. thanks so much

  29. Bree says

    I made this buttermilk following your directions and my first pint jar turned out awesome – just like your photo and delicious. I was hoping that you might help me figure out what went wrong when I tried to use my homemade buttermilk as a starter for my next jar. It just didn’t combine. It sort of reminded me or sour milk the way it was curdly and runny. Any ideas? I put it back in my fridge in hopes that I could still save it if there is a chance!

  30. says

    This recipe looks so good I think I’m going to go to the store today, pick up the ingredients and make it! Your pictures look awesome and I can’t wait to try your recipe. Thanks for sharing it! Off to look at some more of your recipes~

  31. Fred Potts says

    One caution when making buttermilk at home. The process releases a small amount of carbon dioxide, which is harmless. However, in a closed container it can build up pressure to the point of a mild explosion when in a glass jar. When I was 4 years old, my mother was making buttermilk. She had a gallon jar with a lid on it. She shook the contents and the glass shattered, almost taking off her little finger. Several stitches and a few weeks later, she was OK, thank God. You should vent the bottle before shaking it.

    I love home-made buttermilk!

  32. Kermit Johnson says

    I have been making cultured buttermilk for decades taught to me by my mother. She always used powdered or dry milk made up the night before. Then the next day she would use 1 cup of buttermilk to one half gallon of this dry milk mix and close with a tight fitting lid and shake well then place in a warm place for 12 to 24 hours. I have always gotten a good batch of buttermilk this way. I use this in baking.

    • Teresa says

      When you say she mixed up the dry milk mix the night before, did she mix it up and then refrigerate it to use the next day? Thank you!

  33. Asok Asus says

    Thanks for the great recipe! Worked like a charm! And so unbelievably easy! I used whole organic milk so I ended up with thick, rich organic buttermilk. And the best part for me is that I can make sweet, delicious buttermilk without the massive amount of sodium that’s in commercial buttermilk, not to mention all the nasty chemicals like the inflamation-inducing thickener carrageenan also used in commercial buttermilk. If only it was this easy to make organic, sodium-free cottage cheese :(

    • Andy says

      You can make cottage cheese at home. It is really easy to do… heat a gallon of organic skim milk to about 120 degrees F and turn off heat. Add 3/4 cup of white vinegar to the milk (don’t worry it you wont taste it when you are done) and stir until curds form. let the milk and vinegar set for a half hour then line a colander with a clean kitchen towel and pour the mixture into the towel. Break up the curds with your fingers until they are the size you want. Gather the ends of the towel and squeeze the excess whey out. Place the curds in a sealable bowl and put a tablespoon or so of whole organic heavy cream in the bowl as well and mix it up. Refrigerate and enjoy.

  34. Melody says

    Thank You!! I have been looking for this for quite a while, my Mother used to make this when I was a child. I Love ButterMilk! I Love Drinking it! Thanks a Lot. Buttermilk is good for you!

  35. Lisa says

    I just started some buttermilk, hope it turns out. Thanks for your info! We are hoping it will help my daughter’s tummy troubles.

  36. says

    Thanks for the how-to. I’ve just recently started getting raw milk from a friend with cows, and I’m learning how to do all kinds of stuff with it. I use buttermilk all the time in my bread, pancakes, cakes, etc. I found your blog by Googling “how to make homemade buttermilk.” I was looking for how to culture it. Thanks!

  37. says

    First off thanks for sharing this- I found you via Google and it looked so simple I decided to try it. I was curious. I checked my buttermilk this morning and it was the consistency of thin yogurt, a bit separated, and not as tart as I’d expect. Is this normal?

  38. Adele says

    Found via web when I googled “how long will buttermilk last” since I am baking with it today and my supply expired in Sept 2011…..thought I better buy a new buttermilk….but since it is “cultured” all those good bacteria may still be active….but then again I haven’t fed them since Sept and they are probably all pooped out….I think I will get a fresh batch and follow your suggestions for making home made buttermilk and actually use it! Does anyone know why the Organic Milk (3 half gallon cartons) from Costco can be used for such a long time – expiration is more than 3 weeks!

  39. Suzanne Bon says

    Found your website – great stuff – thank you for sharing! My Italian/Canadian husband and I (100% Canadian) are living in England at the moment and started using buttermilk last year when we discovered (and starting making our own) Brown Irish Soda Bread! However, here, you can only buy a little container of approx. 10 oz. so we buy a lot of containers. Figured we could make our own and googled and voila – found you!
    Yesterday we did it – jar, buttermilk, topped with skim milk, put in the airing cupboard (a strange place used for many different things in this country…..it is a closet where the hot water tank sits and stays nice and warm all the time….not hot, just warm) brought it out this morning, shook it up, threw it in fridge and then left the house. Just came back, had a look and it now looks kind of scary…..it was completely separated, liquid on bottom, messy goo on top…..is this normal? I read through all the comments but nobody mentioned this! The container says cultured buttermilk, low fat, ideal for cooking…..could it be that different to North American stuff? I have not opened the jar yet…..I am afraid to!! Advice please.

    • Tammy says

      I think you just made cream cheese. :)

      I’m struggling with the same thing. I’m trying to make cultured buttermilk just from raw milk with out a starter, but it fully separates in much less than 24 hours. I live in FL, so I’m thinking it’s just really warm here and it cultures quickly. So I made curds and whey, or cream cheese and whey. :) I’ve been using the whey for all sorts of fun things! I just haven’t quite figured out buttermilk yet.

      There was another comment about cottage cheese that sounded similar. Either way, I think your nose will tell you right away if it’s soured correctly or if it’s actually spoiled b/c it didn’t actually culture.

  40. says

    I don’t think it’s going to be “bad” Suzanne, but you’ll have to give it a stir and use it more quickly. It sounds like maybe it cultured a bit too long. Perhaps the airing cupboard was just a touch on the too warm side? If you give it another shot, I’d pull it out a bit before when you did. Play with it a bit. Since it has those good cultures in there, it should still be safe to use.

  41. Sri says

    Hi there.. came across your bog via google, love it.
    Am trying to make my own buttermilk at home, but since we don’t have buttermilk in any stores here anywhere, can I use sour cream instead? Or, should I just buy the buttermilk cultures?

    Would appreciate any info/help. Thanks!

  42. Priscilla says

    Hello there,
    Just a quick question, we do not have commercial buttermilk in my current country (Ecuador), and you mentioned being able to home-culture the buttermilk to make a sort of starter… do you have any idea how I would do that here? The only thing I can think of that has bacteria here is plain drinkable yogurt, though I’m not thinking that’d be the solution I’m looking for. I have made old fashioned buttermilk by simply making butter from cream, but it just doesn’t have the consistency or taste I am used to from the States…
    Thanks so much, and I am hoping to be able to try your buttermilk recipe!!

    • says

      Hi Priscilla! If sour cream or creme fraiche is available, its an almost identical culture profile and would work almost interchangeably! You could try plain drinkable yogurt used as a starter with the same temperatures and quantities… I don’t think it would be a bad thing, but not necessarily the same. Kefir might be an option as well. My very favourite solution though, is to order dry, bulk buttermilk culture through http://www.leeners.com or http://www.cheesemaking.com I don’t know if you have any family members stateside who could pick some up and pop it in a care package to you, but it stores remarkably well and you can reculture it over and over and over again.
      Please let me know how you fare!

  43. says

    Hi. Interesting to hear about your buttermilk. I make lots of yogurt.Occasionally I go the store and buy a container and use some of it for starter/culture. I have friends that buy acidophilus at the health food store and put some of that in the milk for starter.

  44. Joanna Phillips says

    I have got two half gallon jars on my counter right now trying to make buttermilk. It has the culture in it and has been setting since yesterday. It doesnt seem to be getting thick. Do I need to take the lid off the jar? In the recipe it didnt say to take it off so I left it on. Thanks for your help.

    • Claudine says

      Hi Joanna,

      I have the same problem and I tried two times with different milk and different temperature. The milk smells sour and it has not thickened after 24 hours. Were you able to do it since then? Anyone have an idea? Next attempt is with my yogurt maker and after I will try to find another source for buttermilk (not easy!). Thanks for your help!

        • Claudine says

          Yes it’s possible but I saw on another blog that the same brand (Neilson) is being used so… My final goal is making quark cause here it is so much expensive, it doesn’t make sense: 6$ for 350g! I pay 2.88$ for one liter of buttermilk.

    • Sharon says

      Make sure it says cultured buttermilk on the carton otherwise it wont work. I make this all the time and once you get it started you can just take a cup of what you have made and make your next jar full before you run out. But you do have to start with the cultured buttermilk.

    • Nadine Klinkenberg says

      I had trouble culturing my first heirloom buttermilk. I set it out at the right temperature for abou 2 days but nothing happened. I put it out again for the third day with no lid and it was done in about 12 hours. That’s just my experience. Now, it’ll set just fine with the lid on or off. If you are having trouble, try getting one of those jars with the rubber ring around the lid that allows for the gases to be released.

  45. Carol Ann says

    Wow, thanks so much for this recipe! I live in the UK and in our area buttermilk is hard to find. I’ve just found a sorce online but the price is sky high. Now I can buy some once to use as a starter then not need to buy again, or at least not very often!

  46. Pamela says

    Hi, I am so happy to find this info! I totally love drinking & cooking with buttermilk! I’ve been drinking it since I was a kid. Nothing better then a nice tall glass of cold buttermilk with a slice of sourdough bread! Yum, yum! Now that I live in the back hills of a very rural area, I can only go to the market about every 2 weeks. Things are so expensive in our town & buttermilk runs about $4.50 per half gallon here, when I can even find it! Thank you so much for posting the recipe! Oh, BTW, when culturing it, I assume I am supposed to have the lid on? Also, do I need to culture it only in glass jars or can I use plastic, like the plastic jugs the buttermilk comes from at the store? thank you!

  47. says

    I’m not a big fan of plain milk and the Dr is telling me I need the calcium. So I took up drinking buttermilk. But although store bought is low in fat, it’s high in salt. So I bought my last qt a while ago.

    Cleaned a 2 litre soda bottle, added a cup of the buttermilk and topped it up with 1% skim milk. Leave it on the counter over night check it in the morning and leave it longer if need be. By now, I’m sure there is very little trace of the sodium from that first cup of store bought. I have a second bottle, clean and ready to go when the first one gets down to the 1 cup mark I put on the side of the bottle. I Transfer and top up the second bottle. Then I can clean and have the first one ready to go. Awesome recipe and soooo cost efficient. Thank you!

    as far as the salt goes, I still like it so I virtually pulverize some seasalt. Now that it’s almost a powder it covers more surface area when I sprinkle it. Since it’s tasting the salt that we look for, you end up using less in the long run. (if you mix it in,you probably won’t notice a difference if you are going by taste.)

  48. Deborah says

    I made this a couple of days ago and it worked beautifully with store-bought 1% milk. It took about 24 hours because I didn’t have anywhere quite warm enough for the shorter time, I guess. I had originally read about the same procedure in an old “Hints from Heloise” book from the 1960’s, but I was afraid to try it because of the outdated recipe. I’m so glad I found your blog and discovered your success–which I now share! Thanks!

  49. Anna says

    Hi! I was anxious to try this out because we use a lot of buttermilk and my husband likes to drink it. I used 2% milk. When I made it, it had the right flavor, and thickened within 8 hours. But it was too thick and a little slimy, even. It was more like yogurt texture and not drinkable, except maybe with a spoon. Any suggestions what I might have done wrong?

    • Bea says

      This recipe works great, but it is way too thick and looks more like a slimy paste. How do I thin it out (some) and keep the flavor?

      • Anna says

        I’ve solved the thickness/sliminess problem. I remembered that when I blend yogurt, it loses its thickness, so I blended the buttermilk (adding milk and shaking it up did not work). After that, it was just the right texture and consistency. My husband said it is as good as any buttermilk he’s had.

        • Robert says

          I tried this recipe and mine also turned out really thick and a bit on the slimy side. I blended it, then refrigerated it. It’s PERFECT! I’ll never buy store bought again…unless I run out and nee to make more! :-)

  50. Lisa says

    Silly question but how warm is a warm spot? I was thinking about putting it in my dehydrator over night but the lowest it goes is 95 degrees. I read others are putting their jars in cabinets.

    • says

      I just leave mine at room temperature (70-80 degrees), and it’s always been fine. I guess it might be a few degrees warmer as I usually put it near the stove.

  51. April says

    Hi Rebecca,
    I followed your recipe and ended up with super thick slimy goo, in about 8 hours. Should I have let it stand longer or maybe its because I used a coffee filter instead of a tight lid. I always over think things…lol



  53. wendylovesfood says

    yum. thanks for loving food enough to not use the typical lemon juice/vinegar “buttermilk” recipe. i just knew, based on making cultured yogurt, i could do buttermilk this way! love it. thanks again. cook on!

  54. Janice Bearbower says

    I,, too, have trouble with warm spot – tried the water bath as for yogurt right at 100 degrees – still working — getting thick on top – do you shake it periodically – (don’t shake yogurt) we keep our home about 67-68 is that too cool? Thanks, could you please respond to my email…thanks so very much.

    • says

      I wouldn’t shake it while it’s culturing, but I would definitely shake it afterward. 67-68 is too cool to culture in the timeframe I gave. You can let it sit at that temperature, but it will take longer to thicken. I put mine behind my woodstove where it’s about 75-80 degrees at most times.

  55. Janice Bearbower says

    What are your thoughts about the water bath at 100 deg.–we don’t have a wood stove…..all electric home.

  56. Verano en Vermont says

    Rather than starting a homemade buttermilk recipe w. a base of store-bought buttermilk, I’d like to add culture to the raw milk we regularly buy from a farmer down the road. I’m not clear on how to procure the organisms, or in what form they come. Is it something one buys from a health food store? Is it a liquid? A powder? Other?) How would I add it to the raw milk as a first step to following your buttermilk recipe? How much would I add to the recipe, and is it something I’d just throw in to the overall mixture? Also, I’m curious…the local organic cultured yogurt we buy seems to have more, or perhaps a wider range of cultures than the buttermilk we buy…can I substitute yogurt instead of buttermilk in your cultured buttermilk recipe? Kindly address as many of my questions as you are able!
    Verano en Vermont

    • Indiana b-milk says

      If you have raw milk, you do not need to buy a culture. I get raw milk from our farmer..to make buttermilk, skim the cream, then let it sit on the counter in a jar with a lid (not screwed tight-wide mouth is best) until it is so thick that when you tilt the jar the cream does not move. This can take 1-2 days. I usually do this before our next milk run when I have had the cream for a week. The culturing may take longer if done right away. There will be bubbles along the inside of the glass. Make sure when you put the cream in the bowl you do NOT have any much milk in there..(use a slotted spoon) a milk line will have formed while it was culturing..if You leave it in it will not work. TRUST ME. Then proceed to make butter..I use my kitchenaid mixer. I found a good youtube video on this a while back..you basically whip it up into whipped cream, then keep whipping till it goes all the way back down and starts to separate. This can take an hour sometimes….that’s when I’m glad I don’t have to use my arm!! You have to squeeze the butter globules together on the inside of the bowl with a flat paddle (like a salad paddle kinda)..wood is best..it becomes nonstick like nothing else will over time. Pour off the buttermilk you are squeezing out of the butter..this is real buttermilk..the method mentioned here is simulated buttermilk..just uses the culture from store bought to culture the milk…BTW..you must “wash” the butter with cold water..just google that..it’s not very hard. (There are organisms in raw milk that will culture naturally. You don’t have to add anything. The cultured butter you end up with also has those beneficial organisms in it…it will be tangy like yogurt. Hope this works for you!

    • sharon says

      We culture our buttermilk the ‘old-fashioned’ way – letting it clabber. Raw milk doesn’t spoil, it sours and can be turned into all sorts of lovely stuff. One buttermilk sat around far too long and really thickened, then separated, we made it into a tangy cheese.

      • Teresa says

        My daughter went to Germany in 2002. She said in the grocery the milk is not refrigerated. It is still in glass jars, on a shelf. How long is raw milk good left out like this? I would think it would spoil quick! Like a day? I am curious. What do you make with all “the lovely stuff” it turns into? Ty!

  57. Terri says

    I tried this but mine didn’t get overly thick and it separated. One part was white and thicker and one part was yellow and watery. It smells like buttermilk but I’m a little nervous to use it. Did anyone else have this issue? I kept it out for 29 hours at room temperature.

    • Felicia says

      When the milk separates like that it just means it cultured a bit longer than necessary. My kefir does the same thing when the house is warmer than usual. Just put the lid back on and shake it back together. Or you could put it in the blender.

  58. John says

    Wow too easy and so much less additives than store bought. I use organic 2% and follow the recipie for 18 hours at room temp. Thanks!

  59. jim boles says

    I love buttermilk (BM) and drink about 3 quarts a week. The two qualities I like most is that it has to taste sour and it has to be rich. BM that is only 1% isn’t rich enough for me. Problem is, the typical BM found in stores really isn’t very good by those criteria.

    We moved to Cedar Rapids Iowa several years ago and I found BM made by Kalona dairy in Amish country (isn’t Amish though). Their products are very lightly pasteurized and not homogenized. Consequently, the milk cultures aren’t killed in the pasteurization process. They simply make the best butter milk I ever had. Too bad it is $3.95 a quart!

    I’ve tried making my own with some success, but it was typically too thick and not sour enough.

    So, one day I bought a quart of Kalona’s plain yogurt which normally taste on the sour side. The store didn’t have any Kalona BM so I bought the normal stuff that I dislike. I went home and put two tablespoons of the yogurt into a glass of the BM and used an electric drink mixer in the glass to mix it well…. and Whaa La! great tasting BM and at a cheap price. Hmmm, I did have to buy the yogurt too so I’m not sure how much money I saved exactly, but the yogurt will last a long time, because I’m not using that much per quart of BM.

    Just thought I share this idea. As much as I drink, making my own BM, or buying it a $3.95 a quart wasn’t the way to go.

    If you’re ever in southeast Iowa stop by the Kalona dairy and try their BM. It’s great!

  60. Vanessa says

    I just tried this and am a little afraid to use it because it doesn’t smell or taste like the buttermilk I bought from the store at all. It’s almost a little sweet. Is that normal? I followed the recipe exactly for a quart. I used store bought buttermilk and 1% milk. I let it sit out for about 14 hours and it’s very thick (my house is warm since it’s summer – about 76 degrees). Could it be that it’s too warm? Should still use it or throw it out and try again?
    Thanks for your help!

    • says

      I think you’ll be okay! You’re putting happy bacteria in and that should hinder the growth of the bad stuff. It’d be really hard for milk to go so bad it would be dangerous in 24 hours particularly when it’s cultured. That being said, if you’re nervous, bake with it or feed it to the dogs or cats!

      • Teresa says

        What do you mean it would be dangerous in 24 hours when it is cultured? How do you know if it is bad? Lol. Sorry. We are just so conditioned in America milk has to be refrigerated.

  61. says

    I’ve cultured yogurt, kefir, and various other milk products from raw goat’s milk repeatedly over the years, so I would add that if you leave this too long, especially if it separates, that your end product will be more acidic and sour to taste. Also, I noticed some people having problems, but I wonder if that could be due to over pasteurization instead of temperature. If the milk is overly pasteurized, it ruins it for cheesemaking, so it very well could destroy the globules enough that they will not culture properly either. :) Just my two cents! Good recipe.

    • says

      Hi there… I’m pretty sure buttermilk cannot be canned. Most dairy is not approved for canning because even in a sealed jar, it can go rancid. Additionally, buttermilk has a live bacterial culture in it that would most certainly be killed during the processing… I don’t advise it even if you find a recipe that says its okay!

  62. Cathy says

    How do you make the buttermilk that you add to the regular milk? I have a cup of fresh buttermilk leftover from making butter from raw milk. What do I use to culture that? Does it create its own culture? Thanks.

    • says

      I buy cultured buttermilk at the store to start it. I honestly don’t know if your raw buttermilk (in the old fashioned sense of the word) would form it’s own culture… I don’t mean to deter you, I just honestly don’t know!

  63. Ellen says

    I made it with store bought cultured buttermilk and 2 percent milk. I live in a cold climate at a high altitude. I really don’t have a very consistently warm spot in the house, so I let it culture in a cold oven with the light on to create warmth. It definitely thickened and cultured, look more like yogurt and had tiny lumps throughout. It smelled ok and I consumed a big glass sprinkled with salt as it tasted good too. I hope I don’t get sick.

  64. says

    I have tried this method 3 times and each time very unsuccessful. The milk breaks down into small chunks through out the whey. I use a heating pad on low with auto shut-off after 3 hours, in a pot covered with towels. I think I am going back to heating the milk to 160′, cooling to 120′ or lower then adding the buttermilk and wrapping in a towel place in a tall pot to keep warm for 12-24 hours. Not sure if using raw milk for your buttermilk really works. Thanks.

  65. Patricia says

    I have made b/m before using the same instructions but this time it came out differnt:
    I used a cultured store bought buttermilk and raw milk to make my buttermilk. It became so thick over night you can scoop it with a spoon and has no taste.
    What did I do wrong?

  66. says

    Hi! I’m excited to read this post. You are also a great writer. 😉 I have never made homemade “anything”, but recently quit my full-time sales job to stay home and raise my children (and grow a photography business). We live on a beef cattle farm, but last week my husband bought a Jersey milk cow. So now we have fresh, wonderful, delicious milk daily. I have an electric churn that was his mothers (50 years old!), but it still works. I don’t know how to use it, though. We are letting the milk sit in it and it’s getting warm, but not “clabbering”. (Sp?) He added some store bought buttermilk, but I’m wondering if we need to add more “culture” I see mentioned above…what is that and where do I buy it? Sorry to be so ignorant, but I really want to figure this out and start using this milk to make butter and buttermilk! And maybe one day…cheese? Eek!

  67. Chuck says

    Going to try making BM. Family use to when I was young using this recipe, made in one gal. crock pot covered with a towel and whole goats milk. I have kept & used store BM that was over a year and half old. NO problems tasted good. Just have to shake it good as it settles. I know older BM is best for pancakes. lighter, fluffier.

  68. Elaine says

    It works best if you heat the milk to 85F before adding the cultured buttermilk. I use 1/2 cup culture to 1 quart milk and leave it on th kitchen counter for 24 hrs covered with a cloth. It’s perfect every time!

  69. Donna says

    I hope someone can help me out here. I’ve made this twice; thick and delicious! How-everrr… it is syrupy. What is that about. I used 1/2 C Knudsen’s cultured buttermilk in a quart mason jar, filled it up (about 3-1/2 C) with Alta Dena whole milk. 24 hrs later, very thick, buttermilk. But when I pour it, it is syrupy. The second batch tasted almost like very thick cream. But, can’t figure out why it’s syrupy. Can anybody (please) answer that one?

  70. Donna says

    Well, if I’d taken time to read all the comments, I would have found the answer to my questions. Duh. How dumb does that feel!
    Thanks, y’all.

  71. Suzanne says

    Thank you for the recipe. How long will buttermilk last in the fridge after you’ve made it? When is it a good idea to toss out?

  72. luna says

    I recently was away from home to attend a wedding. Knowing my homemade buttermilk (thanks) would not last until I returned I froze it into cubes using icedcube tray. Now I just add 4 ounces of cubes to pastuerized (not homogenized ) milk and it works like a charm.

  73. tarina laxton says

    I am so glad that I found this, I love to cook with buttermilk. I made my first jar of Buttermilk. Thank you for posting and sharing.

  74. Jen says

    i was introduced to cultured buttermilk by a lady staying in the same campground as us. Noticed she always had a jar of milk on her table, got chatting to her and she told us that she makes it wherever she goes, even camping, generously shared some with me, been happily culturing ever since. It really is as simple as pour ,shake, wait 24 hours….

  75. Marc Brewster says

    I have been trying to make this home made butter milk for a while now. I have tried all different recipes and all of them turn out the same way, runny like water. Smells like butter milk but has no thickness to it at all. I use Knudsen Cultured butter milk from the store and whole milk from the store, measure exactly like the recipes call for and I let it sit out for 24hrs only to find out it is runny like water, does not thicken up at all so what am I doing wrong?

    • says

      Hi Marc- Is your milk ultra pasteurized? What is your room temperature? If it’s not thickening I assume that it’s either been ultra pasteurized (which breaks the fat globules down) or your room temperature is fairly cold. You can still use it if it has a good smell… If you’re looking for the thickened end product you probably want to switch out your milk.


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