How to Make Buttermilk

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Buttermilk is a critical ingredient commonly added to different recipes, including recipes for baked goods. It improves the flavor, texture, and consistency of those foods that people often prepare at home. So, if you have several recipes that you’d like to prepare that call for buttermilk, it’s important to have it in the kitchen.

But, what do you do when you want to make something and realize you don’t have any buttermilk left? It might seem like a problem when you’re in the middle of baking or preparing a meal, but don’t worry. It’s easy to make buttermilk at home. Here’s another option, Powdered Buttermilk

If you have the right ingredients, you can prepare buttermilk in minutes instead of omitting it from the recipe you’re preparing. In case you missed this post, 5 Easy Baking Powder Substitutes

How to Make Buttermilk

How to Make Buttermilk

The Milk and Vinegar Combo

Believe it or not, you can make buttermilk using a combination of two simple ingredients that you likely already have at home – milk and vinegar. Most people have vinegar at home because it’s such a versatile ingredient that you can use for cooking, cleaning, and more. So, if you have some vinegar at home, along with whole milk in your fridge, you can make buttermilk with ease by combining these two ingredients.

While it’s a simple process, you need to know the exact measurements to use when making the buttermilk:

  1. Start by measuring your milk. You’ll need a cup of milk poured into a bowl. After you’ve measured the cup of milk and poured it, add a tablespoon of white vinegar into the bowl.
  2. Gently mix these two ingredients for a few seconds, and then allow the bowl to sit for several minutes before you use it. When vinegar mixes with milk, it turns into buttermilk.
  3. You can use it in any of the recipes that call for buttermilk without noticing a difference between what you made and what you’d typically buy at the store.
  4. Always use white vinegar when you’re using this method to create buttermilk. Although apple cider vinegar is suitable for a lot of things, it’s not great for creating buttermilk.
  5. If you need to use more than one cup of buttermilk, increase the tablespoon with each additional cup that you’re using. So, if a recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of buttermilk, you’d add 1 ½ tablespoon of the vinegar to the milk to create the buttermilk in minutes.
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Who knew it was that easy to make something so important when baking treats and preparing different meals?

The Milk and Lemon Juice Combo

If you don’t have any vinegar in the house, you may feel like you’re out of luck. However, you can still prepare the buttermilk at home. Instead of adding vinegar to the milk, use lemon juice.

  1. You can use fresh-squeezed lemon juice from lemons that you’ve had sitting on your kitchen table for days, or you can use lemon juice from a bottle that you store in the fridge. It can come in handy for you when you want to make buttermilk.
  2. When preparing the buttermilk with lemon juice and milk, you’re going to need to follow the same steps that you followed when you prepared it with the milk and vinegar.
  3. You’ll add a tablespoon of the lemon juice into a cup of milk, mix the ingredients for a few seconds, and let the mixture sit. It works like a charm! 

Making buttermilk at home isn’t too much of a challenge. If you have two of the ingredients needed to make it, such as vinegar or lemon juice that you can combine with milk, you can prepare buttermilk and then use it in anything and everything. You can even pour your homemade version into a container with an airtight lid, storing it in the fridge to use the next day or the day after that. It’s convenient!

Are There Buttermilk Alternatives?

How to Make Buttermilk

People use buttermilk for many things. Some people soak their chicken in buttermilk before breading it in flour and frying it. They feel like letting it sit in the buttermilk is the perfect way to get the chicken tender, juicy, and flavorful.

Some people add it to their pancake batter because they like the way it makes their pancakes taste, and they also enjoy the slightly crisp, slightly fluffy texture of the pancakes.

Now that you know how to make buttermilk, you may wonder if there are any alternatives that you can use when you’re in a pinch. What happens when you’re out of buttermilk and regular milk?

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If you don’t have regular milk to mix with vinegar or lemon juice, you can’t make the buttermilk. However, you can use one of several alternatives.

Yogurt and Water

Some people combine plain Greek yogurt with a tablespoon of water to create a consistency similar to buttermilk. They may use this as an alternative to buttermilk when they don’t have it available to use. It works well in lots of recipes, including recipes for baked goods.

Sour Cream and Water

If you have sour cream and water, it’s another alternative you can use to create a substitute for buttermilk. It comes in handy when you don’t have milk, vinegar, or lemon juice to make buttermilk from scratch. Instead, you’d add a tablespoon of water to a cup of sour cream to create the ideal consistency before adding it to any recipe.

There are several other alternatives worth trying in a pinch, but these are two of the best, stress-free options available. So if you have these ingredients in your kitchen, you’re good to go.

In case you missed my post, Easy Homemade Buttermilk Biscuit Recipe

Can I freeze fresh buttermilk?

Yes, you can freeze buttermilk, it will keep in the freezer for about 2-3 months. You can buy a quart and pour a cup in mason jars, leaving space for expansion in the freezer. Any portion will work, I just said one cup.

You can also pour the buttermilk into Silicone Ice Cube Containers, let them freeze, pop them out and freeze the cubes in a freezer bag.

How do I thaw frozen buttermilk?

It’s quite easy, remove the buttermilk from the freezer the day before you need it, let thaw in the refrigerator.

Does freezing buttermilk kill the active cultures?

No, it does not, the cultures become inactive when they are frozen, but when the buttermilk thaws, they become active again. This works if your thaw the buttermilk in the refrigerator but not if you microwave it to thaw.

Final Word 

You can make buttermilk and use it to prepare lots of food products at home. Buttermilk is an essential component in many recipes because it gives baked goods the perfect texture and works well as a tenderizer for chicken.

There are hundreds of different ways to use buttermilk, which is why it’s a kitchen staple. If you run out of it when you need it the most, consider making it with one of the options mentioned.

Then, you won’t have to worry about stressing when you run out of buttermilk and need it in a pinch. May God Bless this world, Linda 

Copyright Images: Yogurt Buttermilk AdobeStock_262816929 Konstantin Aksenov, Buttermilk AdobeStock_354939456 fascinadora

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    1. Hi Kay, yes you can, I need to add that to the post. It will last about 2-3 months in the freezer. I freeze whipping cream as well! I learned that from a reader! Linda

  1. I used to always get a powder buttermilk in bulk food form from the Amish. Since I don’t get out that way much anymore, I’ve found some in the local grocery stores. It’s called Cultured Buttermilk Blend in a red and yellow cardboard container with a chef on the label. It works ok but I still prefer the real thing. Problem is I can’t use it up fast enough and places like WalMart don’t even carry it. I have to go to a dedicated grocery store and get a bigger container than what I want. So, I usually just have the powder mix on hand. Oh, and I use it with 2% milk…it seems to work ok. Does it work with 2%?

    1. Hi Robbie, I use whatever milk I have on hand. It’s crazy I cannot find buttermilk at stores anymore. If I do, I buy the small ones to make ranch salad dressing/dip. It’s so frustrating no to find buttermilk! I agree powdered is okay but fresh is better. I can use powdered buttermilk in my chocolate cake, and it works great! LOL! If you are using it for baking buy a quart and freeze it in portions. Fresh is still better, but we know that! Linda

    2. Isn’t that technically acidulated milk? It’s what I use in a pinch because I do not buy buttermilk. My father will drink a glass with cornbread in it. Ick. I do have the buttermilk powder stored but generally I use shelf stable whole milk or even 2% and vinegar for my recipes.

  2. Linda, I honestly thought buttermilk was simply whole milk with none of the cream removed that you squeezed out of a cow’s teat. Live and learn. We’ve always bought buttermilk at the store but i may just have to make some. I like that lemon juice idea.

    1. Hi Ray, you know I really like the fresh, but sometimes I need some buttermilk right now if I want to make a recipe calling for it. Plus, it’s getting harder and harder to find it here at the stores. My favorite is the lemon juice as well. Linda

  3. I found this recipe from Melissa K. Norris some time ago. It works vey well, Buy some cultured buttermilk at the store ( I use the Bulgarian one).Then add 1T. of the buttermilk to 1c. reg. milk and stir well.. Since I normally make 3c buttermilk, I add 3 T. buttermilk. Stir, put a lid on just enough to keep anything out and let sit at room temp.fo 8-12 hrs. to thicken . Remove from counter and put in frig for 16 hrs.. Will keep 2-3 weeks. Be sure to keep come out to make your next batch just like with Sourdough. Use just like store-bought buttermilk!!

  4. Yes, but I use more buttermilk than yogurt so the one I mentioned is best for me. Besides, I can always have it on hand this way.

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