Homemade Cultured Buttermilk is going to be a game changer for you. It’s literally as easy as mixing two things in a jar.
And whoa are you going to love having all that fresh homemade cultured buttermilk around. Read or scroll through to the end for great ideas on how to use up your real buttermilk.
I use a lot of homemade buttermilk. And by ‘a lot’ I mean a ton.
Many of my baked goods contain buttermilk. Much of my salad dressing uses buttermilk.
And my beloved, The Evil Genius? He drinks buttermilk.
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.)
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.
How to Make Real Buttermilk
There are probably quite a few of you out there saying, “Oh please. 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 talk science for a moment.
While the acidified milk might give you the same tang of buttermilk, it lacks woefully in the texture and viscosity department.
Buttermilk is used in recipes for several important reasons. First, it 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.
The acidity of your homemade cultured buttermilk 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 homemade cultured 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:
Perfect, flaky, Homemade Buttermilk Biscuit Take it from me, these buttermilk biscuits would do my Arkansas Grandma proud… They’re lofty, flaky, tender, and utterly divine.
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.
Buttermilk Pancakes Nothing beats beautiful, light, airy buttermilk pancakes smothered in real maple syrup. Nothing. This one’s also reaching way back.
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…
- Chocolate Chip Breakfast Cookies (Drop scones)
- Extra Crispy Fried Chicken Fingers (The Evil Genius can cook!)
- Cornbread Salad
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
- 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.
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.
Homemade Cultured Buttermilk
- 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.
This recipe was originally posted March 24, 2010, and was updated with photos, links, and improved notes March 2021.