Buttermilk. It could be called my ‘secret ingredient’. Well it’s not so much of a secret but an under used ingredient and I’m going to tell you about it. Buttermilk has fallen by the wayside in recent years but our mothers and grandmothers would have used it daily. Not only to bake with but to drink and use as a beauty treatment. I still know women in Ireland who use it as a daily facial cleanser. That’s why we have such beautiful complexions.
English: A glass of milk (left) and a glass of buttermilk (right). Buttermilk is thicker and covers the glass after taking a sip. Deutsch: Ein Glas Vollmilch (links) und ein Glas Buttermilch (rechts). Die dickere Buttermilch bleibt am Glas auch noch nach dem Trinken haften. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Buttermilk is the term used to describe that liquid that was left over after the butter was churned for cream. During this churning of cream, butter was one resulting compound and the other part was a liquid. Now because this liquid was accompanied with butter, it came to be known as buttermilk. The fact that it has butter in its name is a bit misleading. It’s incredible low fat.
Some facts about Buttermilk:
- It contains LESS fat than regular milk because the fat has been removed
- Buttermilk is rich in potassium, Vitamin B12, phosphorus and calcium.
- Buttermilk is very refreshing as a drink cold from the fridge.
- It contains lactic acid bacteria that helps keep our digestive systems strong.
- Irish folklore claims a glass of buttermilk will cure a hangover, and when heated with a clove of garlic, it was sure to cure any variety of ailments.
- Many Irish and American pioneer women used buttermilk as a facial wash, believing the flecks of butter resulted in a smooth and creamy complexion
As for baking – I use buttermilk a lot. From Sodabread to cupcakes, pancakes to scones.
Not only do I love Buttermilk but I love the fact that is a locally produced product. You can get it from most diaries as it is a by product that more often than not is used to feed the animals. Lucky animals.
Norton’s Dairy for example, in Frettenham, specialises in non-homogenised, milk and cream, and produces delicious hand-made Norfolk Butter made only with their own double cream. They also sell uncultured buttermilk and its the place to go to get some http://www.nortonsdairy.co.uk/ - plus you can visit their cafe – always a bonus!
Cultured and Uncultured Buttermilk
Cultured buttermilk is not your old fashioned buttermilk from the farm. Cultured buttermilk is just that. An artificially created culture. Cultured buttermilk has been pasteurised and inoculated with a culture of Streptococcus lactis and Lueconostoc citrovorum to stimulate naturally occurring bacteria that is found in the old-fashioned product. You can buy cultured buttermilk in all major supermarkets.
Uncultured Buttermilk is your good old fashioned buttermilk that is left over from the butter making process. I’m a buttermilk snob (if there is such a thing) and always use uncultured in my baking. It’s what I was brought up with living in the country and using our own milk.
Make your own buttermilk
You can make your own butter and use the liquid left over from the process. You can also artificially simulate buttermilk by adding lemon juice to milk. Mix 1 tablespoon or vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk. Let it sit until it curdles. It won’t take long. Maybe 8 minutes or so. You can use whole, semi-skimmed or skimmed milk to do this.
Go on give it a go!