What is Buttermilk?

What is buttermilk?

There is a saying that butter makes everything better!  I agree.

But with milk?

You might think “who on earth would put those two together and drink it?”  Well they don’t.

Buttermilk is a misnomer.  There is no butter in buttermilk.

 

Buttermilk Goes Way Back

This cherished southern ingredient is as old as the hills.  It conjures up memories of my grandparent’s heyday where people drank it and always had it on hand for cooking.

Historians say buttermilk dates back to an ancient Indian dairy system, about 3000 BC.  Pure buttermilk was the thin, richtasting liquid left in a churn after making butter.  Before cooling and refrigeration, it was a perfect cooking ingredient.

With dairy technology today, it is no longer the by-product of churning, but rather pasteurized milk injected with cultures (lactic acid, a healthy bacteria) which are what we know of as probiotics.   Our modern version is thicker and the acid makes it tangier than the homemade kind.

 

Buttermilk Is a Magical Ingredient

Beyond drinking it for pleasure or as a health benefit, it’s better known for its role in cooking.  For more than 100 years, American cooks have been using buttermilk to make custard or cheese-like pies.  It’s also used as a marinade to tenderize meat, like when you are frying, baking or roasting chicken.

Many recipes include adding baking soda which balances the acidity in commercial buttermilk.

So commune over your next meal with some scrumptious buttermilk recipe, like creamy salad dressing, biscuits, pancakes, and pound cake.  There are so many tasty options!

Need some inspiration on how to incorporate this tasty liquid into your weeknight repretoire?  You won’t want to miss my next segment!