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Well that explains a lot
May 9, 2012 5:18 AM   Subscribe

Everything you know about buttermilk is wrong.

I still like it for the tang that it adds to biscuits and other baking projects, but I always wondered why the stuff tasted so awful especially if it was supposed to be the by product of making butter. Well now I know. Sharing.
posted by cross_impact (119 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite

 
If milk tastes good and butter tastes very good isn't simple mathematics that buttermilk must taste awful?
posted by DU at 5:24 AM on May 9, 2012 [9 favorites]


Spiced chaas tastes just fine.
posted by Gyan at 5:26 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mostly, I'm just happy to see someone do historical food science.
posted by jscott at 5:28 AM on May 9, 2012


Everything you know about buttermilk is wrong.

But.... but... I know all that; it's hardly news to anyone who a) bakes and b) has a historical interest in ingredients. Therefore, since I know it, it must be wrong! Which means that I didn't know it, actually, so I am right!

As long as it ends up confirming that I am right, I am OK with this.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:30 AM on May 9, 2012 [15 favorites]


(Modern) buttermilk is lovely, refreshing. Also the main ingredient in our delightful Danish dessert, koldskål.
posted by brokkr at 5:32 AM on May 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Fie upon all our low-fat dairy products. Whole buttermilk sounds amazing. I'm sick of this 0% fat "greek" yogurt business at the grocery store. It's just skim milk with corn starch and other thickeners.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 5:38 AM on May 9, 2012 [10 favorites]


DU: "If milk tastes good and butter tastes very good isn't simple mathematics that buttermilk must taste awful?"

Most people don't like straight gin or straight tonic. So if beverages were just simple math, G&T would be the least popular beverage there is. Instead: pure magic.
posted by Plutor at 5:39 AM on May 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


Reading the Stack Exchange Cooking site, I learned that German supermarkets carry buttermilch, sauermilch, dickmilch and kefir, all of which are cultured milk products, but none of which are an identical match for American buttermilk.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:41 AM on May 9, 2012


Buttermilk (the modern stuff obviously, since I'm not Laura Ingalls Wilder) is delicious in a glass with chunks of cornbread thrown in.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:41 AM on May 9, 2012


My grandpa drank a big glass of buttermilk every day, at breakfast. When I was a little kid, I thought it was disgusting. I've never gotten anywhere near it since. Maybe next time I'm in the states, I'll try to check it out, though.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:43 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting. Here in Germany people drink Buttermilch often. For lunch, a coworker used to eat smoked salmon and drink half litre of the stuff every day. Sounds like the German variety is usually the liquid runoff of butter made from soured milk (now I know why there is both a "sweet cream" and "sour cream" butter at the supermarket!).
posted by molecicco at 5:44 AM on May 9, 2012


Some people believe that the channel got its name because crossing it was so rough that the farmers' milk was churned in to butter by the time they reached Manhattan.

The narrow channel between Brooklyn's Red Hook and Government Island.
posted by Danf at 5:46 AM on May 9, 2012


I am seconding brokkr's opinion: modern buttermilk is fantastic, if only because of koldskål.
posted by Dysk at 5:47 AM on May 9, 2012


If what's left of the milk after making butter is called buttermilk, are the M&Ms that are left after eating the red ones called "red M&Ms"?
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:50 AM on May 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


buttermilch, sauermilch, dickmilch and kefir

One of these things is not like the others.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:50 AM on May 9, 2012 [12 favorites]


I "churn" my own butter in the simplest way, which is to put a pint of heavy cream from the local Amish farm market into a mason jar, queue up something good on the Roku, and shake the jar while I watch.

It doesn't have to be violent—just sort of a vigorous rocking motion with changes of hand and direction as warranted. It seems like nothing's ever going to happen for a long time, then suddenly the slosh-slosh gets a little thuddier, and there's this gorgeous lump of sweet cream butter in your jar, along with real buttermilk.

You sort of thump it around a while longer, pour off the buttermilk, then wash the lump under a stream of cold water in a bowl, mashing it around with a fork to release any excess buttermilk that's not at the surface. You can't store this butter in a butter bell, alas, because trapped milk will sour quickly, but it's better than the best "artisanal" butter you can buy and that genuine buttermilk is refreshing and lovely.
posted by sonascope at 5:54 AM on May 9, 2012 [22 favorites]


Buttermilk Channel is an amazing restaurant and everybody should go eat there.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 5:57 AM on May 9, 2012


If you want to try whole fat buttermilk, I suspect you could use storebought lowfat buttermilk as a culture, as long as it contains live cultures (is it labeled the same way as yogurt?). Add a couple tablespoons of lowfat buttermilk to some whole milk, and then incubate it at around 110-120°F for 4-8 hours—as in making yogurt.
posted by BrashTech at 5:57 AM on May 9, 2012


My dad loved to drink buttermilk. In fact, it was the only milk he would ever drink. Me, on the other hand, can't stand the stuff. Great for baking. Vile shit on its own.
posted by Thorzdad at 6:00 AM on May 9, 2012


Kitty Stardust: What? The sort I buy has no corn starch, and has fruit on the bottom or real fruit used in some fashion in it.

I dig greek yogurt AND southern style buttermilk biscuits, thank you very much.
posted by raysmj at 6:06 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The scene in Boardwalk Empire where Agent Van Alden orders "a glass of cold buttermilk" with his dinner is one of the damn funniest things on a darkly-funny show. The thought of accompanying a steak dinner with a glass of thick, sour milk is at once stomach-turning and oddly endearing.

The one time I sipped some store-bought buttermilk, I found it intensely unpleasant. Not just the sourness--I'll eat plain yogurt all day long--but the particular, vinegar-like type of sourness. Ick.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:09 AM on May 9, 2012


I have had "real" buttermilk. Tried it after a churning demonstration. It was absolutely delicious, sweet and, yes, a bit creamy. But I like yoghurt, kefir, and, yes, modern buttermilk too. Actually I just pretty much love nearly everything milk-based... when I spent time on the Yucatan a few years back there was nary a drop of milk to be had; by the time I returned home I was half-mad for anything dairy and in fact nearly knocked people over in my mad dash for the soft ice cream vendor at the airport.

The other thing about buttermilk, you can make buttermilk bacon pralines with it, and they're sinfully yummy. Made a batch last night, as a matter of fact. Mmmm, buttermilk... AND bacon...
posted by kinnakeet at 6:10 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


You can make a substitute "buttermilk" for vegan baking by adding about 3/4 T vinegar to 1 cup of soy or almond milk! This is not especially drinkable, lord knows, but it's pretty convenient for certain biscuits and cakes. The proteins in the soy/almond milk just clabber right up - as much as I know why it works I am still slightly amazed that wow, it actually happens.
posted by Frowner at 6:10 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


All forms of European-style buttermilk are pretenders, frankly. The real deal is majjiga, ideally with ground coriander (I understand Americans call this cilantro) and raw green chillies.

Add some curry leaves, seasoning and a whole lot of gooodness, and it becomes majjiga pulusu, one of the dishes I miss from my mom's cooking.

I'd also settle for saambaaram if I don't get majjiga. Turkish buttermilk, ayran, is passable, but as awesome as Turkish cuisine is, it doesn't have that added *something* that majjiga has.
posted by the cydonian at 6:15 AM on May 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


This post is insensitive to the lactose-intolerant.
posted by desjardins at 6:20 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


For a non-began version, or for people trapped in a culture entirely devoid of buttermilk, but needing it for brines and other cooking, one cup whole milk, one tbsp vinegar. Stir, let sit. Not a buttermilk for drinking, but it works in a pinch.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:22 AM on May 9, 2012


(But yes, fuck nonfat yogurt, especially nonfat Greek yogurt. For the minimal fat you avoid, you miss out on texture and flavor and actually feeling full. Plus you make it hard for me to find 2% or full-fat yogurt.)
posted by uncleozzy at 6:24 AM on May 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


This post is insensitive to the lactose-intolerant.

But not intolerant of the lactose-insensitive.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:27 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


ground coriander (I understand Americans call this cilantro)

Actually, just to be confusing, we call the seeds (which you are referring to, since you mention grinding) coriander. We only call it cilantro when it has actually grown into an herb from the seeds.
posted by tocts at 6:28 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


ground coriander (I understand Americans call this cilantro)

Coriander refers to the seeds; cilantro refers to the plant and its leaves.
posted by stopgap at 6:29 AM on May 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


Before I got off my butt and went to college, I worked at a manufacturing plant for dairy products - and I made buttermilk. 500,000 pounds of it at a time. Basically, it's like this - you take the scrap left over from everything else you do with milk and you add a few bottles of what we referred to as "the bugs" to the tank. Then you turn off the coolant, let it set for a few days at room temperature, and then presto! The bugs worked their magic!
posted by bradth27 at 6:29 AM on May 9, 2012 [5 favorites]


Some people believe that the channel got its name because crossing it was so rough that the farmers' milk was churned in to butter by the time they reached Manhattan.

I've kayaked there. It is indeed rough. (Someone from my kayak club claims that that's because there's a shipwreck underwater right bang in the middle of one of the currents that does all sorts of crazy things to the water flow.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:33 AM on May 9, 2012


My Finnish grandmother was very disappointed to learn that storebought buttermilk had been pasteurized, so she would keep it on top of the refrigerator to redevelop some bacteria (and she lived to her late nineties).
posted by 445supermag at 6:33 AM on May 9, 2012


Plus you make it hard for me to find 2% or full-fat yogurt.

Seriously. One grocery store I go to has an entire yogurt aisle, but no full-fat Greek yogurt larger than a pint.
posted by stopgap at 6:33 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Cows do not lack toes. In fact, they are cloven-hoofed. Which helps to explain the taste of buttermilk.
posted by pracowity at 6:36 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


For those who want to make their own, but don't want to use vinegar, lemon juice is preferable. Those mornings when I don't feel like going to the grocer to make my pancakes, milk + lemon juice, maybe a tbs of plain yogurt, mix up, heat and you're good to go.
posted by k5.user at 6:40 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: just sort of a vigorous rocking motion with changes of hand and direction as warranted. It seems like nothing's ever going to happen for a long time, then suddenly the slosh-slosh gets a little thuddier
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:48 AM on May 9, 2012 [11 favorites]


If you liked this article you should check out McGee's On Food and Cooking. It's full of fascinating details.
posted by exogenous at 6:52 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


I did the exact same thing as the author when I was a kid--I read about it in Little House in the Big Woods and insisted I get to try buttermilk. (The food in Laura Ingalls Wilder books always sounded so good--I think I pestered my mom into making lots of pioneer foods over the years.) My mom bought me some because she's awesome like that, but modern buttermilk is weird, so we made pancakes with it after I drank the obligatory glass. Usually if a recipe called for buttermilk, we'd just sour some milk with vinegar or lemon juice, which works pretty well.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 6:57 AM on May 9, 2012


We only call it cilantro when it has actually grown into an herb from the seeds.

And yet others call it VILE FUCKING INEDIBLE POISON.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:01 AM on May 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've never aquired the taste for commercial buttermilk, but I do like kefir, even unsweetened. Not sure what the difference is.

Also, I predict that we're going to see more yogurt advertising targeted at men.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 7:02 AM on May 9, 2012


I just bought a half-gallon of buttermilk to make a moss milkshake. When I discovered that I was out of milk this morning, I seriously considered pouring the buttermilk on my Weetabix. I decided against it. I can't say yet whether this thread validates or argues against that decision.
posted by oneironaut at 7:07 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've made my own butter before, but I never thought to try the resulting liquid. It sounds like I have something to try this weekend.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:13 AM on May 9, 2012


For those who want to make their own, but don't want to use vinegar, lemon juice is preferable.

I find rice vinegar gives a more neutral taste that white or cider vinegar, but lemon juice makes a lot of sense. Also, for those vegans who have somehow read this far, I have had really good luck souring soy milk in pretty much the same way as milk -- add about a tsp of vinegar to a cup of milk, wait 5 min, and presto!
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:16 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ooh, I've done that moss thing before. I grew lots of mold, but no moss.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 7:16 AM on May 9, 2012


And yet others call it VILE FUCKING INEDIBLE POISON.

Man, even the lactose intolerant don't talk this way. That's some intolerance.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:16 AM on May 9, 2012


I'm slightly confused, so here's to hoping that some transatlantic dairy-living traveller can enlighten me. Is american buttermilk the same stuff as dutch karnemelk or danish kærnemælk (those being the only ones I'm familiar with), or are they completely different?
posted by Sourisnoire at 7:19 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dairy-lOving, that is...
posted by Sourisnoire at 7:19 AM on May 9, 2012


The food in Laura Ingalls Wilder books always sounded so good

Every last thing about those books was a vile betrayal.
posted by elizardbits at 7:20 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh no...wait...is it......is it.....PEOPLE??? Is Buttermilk actually PEOPLE??
posted by spicynuts at 7:20 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


we call the seeds (which you are referring to, since you mention grinding) coriander.

The recipe cydonian linked to uses coriander leaves (i.e., cilantro), not the seeds.
posted by Fnarf at 7:21 AM on May 9, 2012


I mean also they were horrendously racist and everything but in truth I am far more outraged about all the time and energy and fake-maple-flavoured HFCS I wasted trying to make maple syrup candy in the snow.
posted by elizardbits at 7:22 AM on May 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


Seriously. One grocery store I go to has an entire yogurt aisle, but no full-fat Greek yogurt larger than a pint.
None of the groceries here carry any whole-milk Greek yogurt in any size container. One store, if we beg, plead, and cajole, will special order it for us, and 4-6 weeks later will have a couple of pints. We then ask again to special order, and 4-6 weeks later, they might have some more, unless they forget. We usually just drive an hour to Birmingham to stock up every couple of weeks. For the life of me, I can't understand why the stores here try so damned hard not to take our money.
posted by fogovonslack at 7:25 AM on May 9, 2012


Sourisnoire, modern kærnemælk is soured low-fat milk, so similar to modern American buttermilk. I believe there's some law allowing the labelling of butter-byproduct buttermilk as 'gammeldags kærnemælk' but I've never seen any in shops...
posted by Dysk at 7:27 AM on May 9, 2012


Since L.V. Anderson used pasteurized heavy cream (she would have told us otherwise) she, and we, still have no idea what it might really have tasted like.
posted by jamjam at 7:31 AM on May 9, 2012



Everything I know about butter milk is not wrong.

North Americans need to stop taking all of the fat out of their dairy products. There's something deeply wrong with watery, flavorless, pale yogurt and butter. It's probably responsible for everything wrong in this part of the world.

I'd consider trying to whip my own butter, but frankly my girlfriend would find that all too predictable and the laughing and jeering might finally catch up with me. My slow drift back into the 1900s has to stop somewhere.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:47 AM on May 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


And I know that most of you aren't interested in my grocery shopping, but I've finally found a good Polish butter here; it has a day's worth of calories in every tablespoon.

I may have to add a home defibrillator unit to my shopping list.
posted by Stagger Lee at 7:55 AM on May 9, 2012


Dysk: "I believe there's some law allowing the labelling of butter-byproduct buttermilk as 'gammeldags kærnemælk' but I've never seen any in shops..."

You need better glasses. Both Arla and Thise make gammeldags kærnemælk and I've seen these babies in many grocery stores. I don't think you're right about the labeling law, since - according to Thise's own website - their "regular" kærnemælk is a butter by-product, while their gammeldags kærnemælk is soured milk.
posted by brokkr at 7:56 AM on May 9, 2012


I feel like I'm missing out on a world of foods simply by living in an industrial society. And it's not that I'm in a farmless area or a region devoid of artisinal, natural foodstuffs, it's that I lack the knowledge to know what to look for. I didn't know that there were three kinds of buttermilk, but now I might have to buy some cream at the farmer's market.
posted by Turkey Glue at 8:04 AM on May 9, 2012


Here seems as good a place to ask as any: I would LOVE to make my own butter, but i live in a stupid military-industrial town in the South and I cannot, for the life of me, get non-ultra pasteurized heavy cream. Can I still make butter if I just absolutely beat the HELL out of it, or has the pasteurization homogenized it to the point of no return?
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:09 AM on May 9, 2012



I feel like I'm missing out on a world of foods simply by living in an industrial society. And it's not that I'm in a farmless area or a region devoid of artisinal, natural foodstuffs, it's that I lack the knowledge to know what to look for. I didn't know that there were three kinds of buttermilk, but now I might have to buy some cream at the farmer's market.
posted by Turkey Glue at 8:04 AM on May 9 [+] [!]


I learned a lot about ingredients by doing things from scratch. You get really acquainted with the properties of foods, and through trial and error discover what is and is not worth actually buying pre-made at the store.

If wraps/flatbread are so easy and good, maybe I can make corn flour ones by taking out the wheat flour... oops, today we learned about gluten.

I highly recommend trying to make from scratch a lot of the things you buy at the store. It's fun, and you learn a lot about cooking. Even if you only do it once for each item.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:10 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


(Also one of the absolute best things about six months in Sweden was the dairy aisle. I have dreams of that glorious land, full of delicious cartons full of adventuresome tastes, and then I wake up in my just-large-enough-not-to-have-farmers Southern town, clutching my pillow and weeping for all the creme fraiche I have known and lost.)
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:12 AM on May 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


Karnemelk is also a common staple in Holland, where it is used to wash down a (very) small cheese or ham sandwich in what the Dutch, inexplicably, refer to as "lunch". It's sold in containers very similar to those of other dairy products.

However, buttermilk, in any of its forms, is almost unheard-of in Latin countries such as France, Spain or Italy. Most people there will find it frankly unbelievable that anybody is ready to drink the stuff.

As a result, one of the most entertaining experiences as a Spaniard living in Holland was the inevitable moment when each newly arrived fellow Latin expat bought some karnemelk thinking it was milk. Extra entertaining if you managed to be present when he unwittingly started drinking it...
posted by Skeptic at 8:14 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The best biscuits I make are made using full fat greek yogurt. I agree w/ the author that full fat, sour buttermilk would be just wonderful for all sorts of baked ingredients. It's getting harder and harder to find full-fat anything these days, though. I haven't even been able to find full-fat greek yogurt since the grocery store I went to went out of business. I don't understand why the low fat craze has continued in general. It has turned virtually all store bought yogurt brands into sugary junk or- as someone above pointed out, chunky skim milk.
posted by NathanBoy at 8:17 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The food in Laura Ingalls Wilder books always sounded so good
Every last thing about those books was a vile betrayal.



The ginger well water sounded so good and refreshing on a hot day, my childhood self headed into the kitchen, sprinkled dry, powdered ginger from the spice rack into a glass of cold water and stirred.

Suffice to say it was *not* at all refreshing, nor good.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:19 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]



Suffice to say it was *not* at all refreshing, nor good.
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:19 AM on May 9 [+] [!]

Part of the fun of cooking is creating the occasional truly horrible monstrosity that could never, by any standard, be considered edible.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:22 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have a hand-written recipe on a pretty little card, given to me by a friend's mum. It's for buttermilk and chive salad dressing. At the bottom, she's written "you can substitute whole milk with 2 tablespoons of melted butter stirred in for the buttermilk."

On the back is a recipe for "Lemon Vinegar-et".
posted by cilantro at 8:23 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks to Cooks Illustrated, I knew that buttermilk wasn't "real" buttermilk, and at their suggestion, I've been buying and using powdered buttermilk in baked goods, because it's the dried leftovers from butter-making and I thought that would give me superior biscuits.*

But reading this, it seems that the sour milk aspect of buttermilk is the important part for baking. So should I be buying cultured buttermilk for biscuits?

*Biscuits are pretty delicious either way. I am 99 percent sure that the technique is most important. And brushing the tops with melted butter as they come out of the oven.

On preview: I'm going to try the full-fat yogurt suggestion.
posted by purpleclover at 8:23 AM on May 9, 2012



But reading this, it seems that the sour milk aspect of buttermilk is the important part for baking. So should I be buying cultured buttermilk for biscuits?


I would/do. Many recipes I've had for it actually call for sour milk rather than butter milk.
But with that said, I mostly use a Michael Smith recipe that uses garden variety milk and is fantastic and foolproof.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:25 AM on May 9, 2012



I'm not lactose-intolerant myself, but I am dairy industry intolerant.

If you're over two years old, you can skip milk entirely. The only thing more revolting to me than an adult quaffing a big glass of cow's milk at table is the thought of doing so myself.

That said, out of long habit I've grown accustomed to having something to moisten my breakfast cereal. Water -- hot or cold -- I find does not answer.

So it's been a long journey from whole milk to two-percent to skim to soy to almond milk.

At first, I felt a little self-conscious about buying almond milk on a regular basis. I don't think of myself as one who follows food fads and it felt a bit new-agey food-paranoiac to favour this exotic product over cow milk. But minimal research (read: Wikipedia) revealed that almond milk is neither a modern innovation nor a reaction to big dairy, as such. It seems almond milk has been popular for centuries, for all the same reasons it is still around today: To the practical benefits recognised of old, add these modern factors: Some have been successful baking with almond buttermilk, created using apple cider vinegar.

Almond milk should be a whole lot cheaper than animal milk, and would be if the latter was not so heavily subsidized.

Now I am hoping for continued R&D on plant-based rennet so I can enjoy a fine port and almond stilton -- in my flying car.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:27 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


Can be made as needed; in fact it's easy to make at home. In terms of preparation from raw materials, it's more analogous to coffee than animal milk.

And here's a recipe...
posted by Celsius1414 at 8:30 AM on May 9, 2012


As a transplanted American Southerner in the UK, I've been using Fage full-fat greek yogurt (thinned slightly with milk) instead of buttermilk in my biscuits for six years now and it's exactly the same - maybe even better? Buttermilk is available in tiny little cartons, but I always have plain yogurt around anyway (I have it nearly every day with berries for breakfast, I stir it into curries, or I use it as a tangier substitute for soured cream with Mexican food or in Borscht or Goulash).
posted by cilantro at 8:31 AM on May 9, 2012


maple syrup candy in the snow

Is so, so overrated.

I have tried replacing my milk with almond milk, but it just tastes weird with coffee.
posted by jeather at 8:31 AM on May 9, 2012




If you're over two years old, you can skip milk entirely. The only thing more revolting to me than an adult quaffing a big glass of cow's milk at table is the thought of doing so myself.


And here I was thinking that cooking threads were nice because they're so uncontentious.
Are you arguing that we should avoid dairy because we can?

I mean I can crush vitamin tablets into a thin, watery gruel and survive for the rest of my life like that.
posted by Stagger Lee at 8:32 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


Can I still make butter

Yes, sure. It won't be cultured, i.e., bacterially alive for extra flavor, unless you add some culture back in by adding "live culture" from yoghurt or something first, but it'll still be delicious butter. Whip it up in your mixer. It's actually pretty hard NOT to make butter if you're whipping cream (without added sugar) carelessly; it turns from stiff peaks to clumped butter seemingly instantly.
posted by Fnarf at 8:32 AM on May 9, 2012


But reading this, it seems that the sour milk aspect of buttermilk is the important part for baking. So should I be buying cultured buttermilk for biscuits?

I make my biscuits/scones from sour milk, if I have any that's gone off. But when I don't, I water-down plain yogurt, and that makes for a lovely baking-powder biscuit. When all else fails, I just sour regular milk with a bit of lemon juice.

That said, American baking powder is not the same as Canadian or British baking powder: it has a much more baking-soda taste, which can be dire in biscuits. When I lived in the US, I brought back baking powder from Canada every time I visited home.
posted by jb at 8:33 AM on May 9, 2012


Part of the fun of cooking is creating the occasional truly horrible monstrosity that could never, by any standard, be considered edible.

Hah! I once reversed the quantities of salt and sugar in a cookie recipe ( I was, like, ten years old). That batch was better suited for constructing emergency shelter than eating.

Then there was the notorious Brer Rabbit Molasses Incident of 1967.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:33 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder if I would if almond milk would make me as sick as almonds do? I have a similar dietary intolerance to almonds (cramps, pain) as lactose intolerant people do to milk. I'll just have to substitute cows milk in for all my recipes that call for almond milk.
posted by jb at 8:35 AM on May 9, 2012


> The only thing more revolting to me than an adult quaffing a big glass of cow's milk at table is the thought of doing so myself.

Mostly I agree with this. One exception. A glass of milk is a usually a better wake-up than a cup of coffee first thing in the morning. It gets real energy into your metabolic system faster than almost any food and it doesn't have to be replenished by a second cup of coffee an hour later when the caffeine from the first cup wears off.
posted by bukvich at 8:36 AM on May 9, 2012


I'm sick of this 0% fat "greek" yogurt business at the grocery store. It's just skim milk with corn starch and other thickeners.

No it isn't. Fage Total 0%, for example, contains: "Grade A Pasteurized Skimmed Milk, Live Active Yogurt Cultures (L. Bulgaricus, S. Thermophilus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus, L. Casei)." Nothing but skim milk and bacteria. Yogurt isn't thickened by fat, it's thickened by lactic acid produced by the bacteria acting on the proteins in the milk.
posted by jedicus at 8:38 AM on May 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


I wonder if I would if almond milk would make me as sick as almonds do?

I going to guess it's yes.

If you read Celsius1414's recipe above, you'll see processing in minimal. There's not even any heating involved. Almond milk is almonds and water.

My information is that people with related nut allergies should be careful with store-boughten almond milk even if they aren't allergic to almonds, as there's a chance the machinery involved has touched other types of nuts at some point.

Nut allergies are pernicious.
 
posted by Herodios at 8:41 AM on May 9, 2012


"It (milk) gets real energy into your metabolic system faster than almost any food and it doesn't have to be replenished by a second cup of coffee"[citation needed]
posted by Blue_Villain at 8:44 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can I still make butter if I just absolutely beat the HELL out of it, or has the pasteurization homogenized it to the point of no return?

As mentioned above, yes, you can. Pasteurization and homogenization are two unrelated processes.
posted by jedicus at 8:51 AM on May 9, 2012


Stagger Lee, I have been working from Scott Peacock's recipe from Gourmet (ignoring the fussy bit about making your own baking powder). My recipe has one cup more flour and half the solid fat of yours. (Oh, and I prefer the flavor of butter to lard, even the fancy kind of lard.) I am intrigued by this grating frozen butter idea.
posted by purpleclover at 8:52 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I pestered my mom into the same homemade butter/buttermilk experiment as the author and nibbly fang thanks to Little House. I don't remember much about the taste. It may be time to give it another go, because hey... fresh homemade butter!

My favorite surprising application of buttermilk: I followed the recommendation on the side of a tin of McGann's Irish oatmeal (the stuff you have to cook for half an hour, not quick rolled oats) and put a little bit of buttermilk on alongside my usual (real) maple syrup. The tang perfectly complements the slightly nutty flavor of the oatmeal but in proper proportion it doesn't overwhelm the sweet of the maple. Soooo tasty!
posted by usonian at 8:58 AM on May 9, 2012


This is awesome! I will try making my own butter, too, if I can find the fresh cream :)
posted by rebent at 9:00 AM on May 9, 2012


WidgetAlley,

Ultra-pasteurized cream will make butter. You can use a jar, a blender, or a food processor. It will be better than store-bought butter but not as good as butter from non-pasteurized cream.

I am fortunate enough to have a cow share in a local Grade A organic grass-fed raw non-homogenized milk dairy, so I make my own full-fat yogurt, butter, sour cream, creme fraiche, and "buttermilk" (I just get a small container of the industrial stuff from the store and use it for the "bugs").

There is nothing - nothing! - like whole raw milk dairy products. Just like grandma used to make, only every batch is tested for safety at my dairy.

If you're looking for it locally, try RealMilk.com.
posted by caryatid at 9:06 AM on May 9, 2012 [3 favorites]


For the citation needed asshat:

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) states that milk is better than juice or glucose because it has lactose, fat and protein that will help your blood sugar remain steady over time. A candy bar or other high fat sweets can raise blood sugar too high after you eat them and can contribute to weight gain.

http://www.lifeclinic.com/focus/diabetes/hypoglycemia.asp

This is something you should test for yourself with a glass of milk. I cannot promise that it will work for you. I can assure you that it works for me.
posted by bukvich at 9:12 AM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


brokkr, yeah I got the labelling law wrong, utterly. Trying to dredge information from memories of a conversation with my grandparents a long while back. Odd that I've never seen the gammeldags stuff - my parents live just a few miles from Thise, even...
posted by Dysk at 9:16 AM on May 9, 2012


I like Buttermilk. Just had some.
posted by bongo_x at 9:17 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


According to Harold McGee, in his excellent book (food bible): On Food and Cooking, The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, refrigeration was not what ended the production of traditional buttermilk. The invention of centrifugal cream separators and the shortages post WW II were the cause of imitation buttermilk prevalent today. Gravity separation (cream naturally rising to the top) was an overnight process or longer which allowed bacteria to naturally form. The bacteria in the cream when churned to butter, resulted a runoff of traditional buttermilk, which would continue to thicken and develop flavor over time.

"With the advent of centrifugal cream separators in the 19th century development of the , gravity separation became obsolete and buttermaking produced "sweet" unfermented buttermilk, which could be sold as such or cultured with lactic bacteria to produce the traditional flavor and consistency. In the United States, a shortage of true buttermilk shortly after World War II led to the success of an imitation, "cultured buttermilk", made from ordinary skim milk and fermented until acid and thick."
posted by snaparapans at 9:34 AM on May 9, 2012


Hi, I'm the citation asshat.

Your original post said that milk was better for you than coffee and gives you a pick-up quicker than most foods, however your response contains no information that relates to said subject. Your quote did mention things like candy bars and high fat sweets, but I pose to you that there are other options to, as you say get "a better wake-up than a cup of coffee". Some of those include foods, like fruits and vegetables, which as you said in your first post "gets real energy into your metabolic system" slower than milk.

Also, I was trying to cleverly and politely ask for clarification as to why you thought milk was better than food at these things. This blue thing is full of people trying to be clever. No need to call people names.
posted by Blue_Villain at 9:35 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you're making your own butter from cream, you can actually make flavored butters by steeping things in the cream first. We once made Thai tea butter, and it was delicious.
posted by novalis_dt at 9:43 AM on May 9, 2012 [4 favorites]


The American Diabetes Association (ADA) states that milk is better than juice or glucose because it has lactose, fat and protein that will help your blood sugar remain steady over time. A candy bar or other high fat sweets can raise blood sugar too high after you eat them and can contribute to weight gain.

I find "citation needed" as irritating as the next person*, but that citation doesn't really support the claim you made. Sugar is "real energy" and, taken in moderation, a useful part of one's diet when one needs quick energy. The notional "balanced breakfast" with a mixture of whole grains, fruit, vegetables and protein is probably still the "ideal", but we don't live in an ideal world. Of course people's lives and digestions differ. I have to force myself to eat breakfast most days, which is a pain.

*no offence to Blue_Villain either, but this is a conversation mainly. If you disagree with or doubt something said, the usual response is to express that, and maybe raise your own information about it, rather than (appear to) demand citation. But YMMV, "read the room" etc.
posted by howfar at 9:46 AM on May 9, 2012


If you're making your own butter, I find a little bit of kasoori methi (dried fenugreek leaves), steeped in the cream you're using, makes nicely flavorful and aromatic butter. Tried it on a lark after having to buy a metric ton of kasoori methi to make my mattar paneer (the corner Indian grocery seems to only stock it by the metric ton) and it's got a nice finish.

Whenever I've got a nice long weekend to myself, there's nothing in the world like a meal of homemade butter with a little honey from the hive out back smeared on warm slices from a fresh loaf of no-knead bread, served with a cold glass of the buttermilk left over from making the butter, eaten to the tune of Eno's Thursday Afternoon while dogs snore at my feet. Pure ecstatic joy, borne out of five raw ingredients and the kind of activity that is the essence of zen.

Not tomorrow, not yesterday—just here, just now.
posted by sonascope at 9:59 AM on May 9, 2012 [8 favorites]


Re: "citation asshat"

It might be helpful to remember you're in a room with a bunch of other people, not talking just amongst yourself. I can't see any "citation asshat" name-calling (maybe it was deleted), nor any comments about the American Diabetes Association that you quoted. If they were deleted, it's best not to respond to them anyways, because no one knows what you're talking about. I certainly don't.
posted by Fnarf at 10:10 AM on May 9, 2012


I just attempted to google for a vaguely remembered quotation from the Atkins diet guy where he supposedly said the best three ways to start an argument are:

religion
politics
diet.

To recommend milk as a nutrient, the best nutrient, or the densest nutrient is hardly controversial. Mammals get their name from the mechanism of feeding their newborns milk from their mammary glands. The american diebetic quotation is the first thing pulled on a search for (milk, hypoglycemia).

Retyping somebody's comments and then citation needed is not polite. It is rude. Polite is when you use the term "please" when you ask. Please cease being fucking rude.
posted by bukvich at 10:17 AM on May 9, 2012


Oh man, I flipping love buttermilk, especially with a little bit of salt stirred in - it's kind of like drinking liquid cheese ... mmmm .... And contrary to what the author of that article seems to be saying, I see full-fat buttermilk in the dairy aisle all the time around here (though I never let myself have it, considering I can't seem to keep from drinking the entire carton over a day or two). Of course, I am in the South, where I'm pretty sure even lettuce comes in a full-fat version, so YMMV.
posted by DingoMutt at 10:33 AM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


[I originally removed the "asshat" comment as being not a great way to respond, even out of frustration, but since there's aftershocks, let's leave it in place and note that that's not a great way to be, period. Turn the other cheek and/or flag and move on. If this discussion about "citation needed", which isn't a great response in its own right, needs to keep happening, do it elsewhere, and let it drop in here. Thank you.]
posted by cortex at 10:43 AM on May 9, 2012


Anyone who wants to argue about ettiquette should probably remember that this isn't the place for that.
posted by howfar at 10:43 AM on May 9, 2012


My (Mexican, if it makes a difference) mother drinks buttermilk. With a shot of Tabasco. I will never, ever understand.
posted by darksasami at 12:34 PM on May 9, 2012


flapjax at midnite: "My grandpa drank a big glass of buttermilk every day, at breakfast. When I was a little kid, I thought it was disgusting. I've never gotten anywhere near it since. Maybe next time I'm in the states, I'll try to check it out, though."

My grandpa was a retired share-cropper from Tennessee. He was 100% hillbilly.

When I was about 5, I was in his kitchen when he woke up, opened the "ice-box", pulled out a jug of buttermilk and drank directly from the container.

"What's that, grandpa?"
"Boy, this here is the greatest drink known to man! Take yerself a sip."

I took a big sip and promptly spit it out all over him and the floor. I've never seen anyone laugh so hard before or since.

My grandpa died of cancer about a year later. I miss you, Grandpa, but buttermilk tastes like shit.
posted by double block and bleed at 12:47 PM on May 9, 2012 [6 favorites]


My uncle tried that to me with Jack Daniels, with similar results. The bastard's still living.
posted by k5.user at 1:04 PM on May 9, 2012


I've liked buttermilk when I've had it as an older adult, although I usually don't taste the stuff unless there's some left over after using it in a recipe. I, too, resented Laura Ingalls Wilder for what I thought of as a deceptive description in the book, although when I got a bit older it was the minstrel show that Pa was in that bothered me more.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:20 PM on May 9, 2012


Buttermilk Asshat: good band name? Discuss.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:00 PM on May 9, 2012


Blend it with peanut or almond butter and a banana -- yum!
posted by jgirl at 3:40 PM on May 9, 2012


What I know about buttermilk is that you have to stop and read the ingredients carefully before you buy it, because certain cheap bastards at Kroger's and other grocery stores sell "buttermilk" that has been thickened with gelatin or tapioca or similar adulterants, and it will ruin the cornbread or pancakes if you try to use it. Wal-Mart, for unknown reasons, sells normal buttermilk.

Yes, I'm angry about this.
posted by dilettante at 4:50 PM on May 9, 2012


I spent a summer living on pretty much nothing but a quart of Calder's Dairy buttermilk a day. Anyone in SE Michigan should try it! I've never had any other that came close.
posted by BinGregory at 6:52 PM on May 9, 2012


Ooh and thanks for the recipe, Cydonian. My curry tree is finally big enough to allow regular plucking of leaves for the kitchen.
posted by BinGregory at 6:58 PM on May 9, 2012


My (Mexican, if it makes a difference) mother drinks buttermilk. With a shot of Tabasco. I will never, ever understand.

I can’t believe I never thought of this. Just tried it and love it, thanks, now I have a new drink.

cheap bastards at Kroger's and other grocery stores sell "buttermilk" that has been thickened with gelatin or tapioca or similar adulterants

I get mine at Kroger and it says "Cultured Milk, Salt, Anotto color".
posted by bongo_x at 7:11 PM on May 9, 2012


bongo_x, is that their store brand or does your Kroger's carry other brands of buttermilk? Because as of last year, the Kroger's stores here usually only carried their own brand, and that had gelatin in it.
posted by dilettante at 7:20 PM on May 9, 2012


FWIW, I found this on the nutrition information for Kroger's buttermilk, but it doesn't say how old it is.
posted by dilettante at 7:26 PM on May 9, 2012


< derail > I found ginger water as described by Laura Ingalls Wilder to be really good on a hot day. If you just mixed ginger and water, you skipped a few major ingredients. Here's a recipe.
< /derail >
posted by superna at 7:33 PM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


The cultured buttermilk from Whole Foods tastes good, the cultured buttermilk from Kroger tastes horrible. Good buttermilk adds a wonderful flavor that milk-plus-vinegar can't provide. And let's not get into the claims that spoiled milk makes a good substitute for buttermilk; unless it was unpasteurized, spoiled milk has entirely the wrong kind of microbes in it and just tastes nasty.

You know what to do when you've bought a quart or two of good buttermilk and don't need it all? Measure out one recipe's worth (one and a quarter cups, or one and a half cups, whatever your favorite recipes call for) into a zip-top freezer bag, seal it with as little air as is practical, then lay it flat in the freezer. Once your bags of buttermilk are frozen, you can stack them or line them up like books on a shelf. They defrost easily in the microwave, if you're not the plan-ahead type.

I love having good frozen buttermilk handy to marinate chicken or make cake or pancakes. Adding vinegar to milk works in a pinch, but it's not as good.
posted by Ery at 7:37 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


For all the buttermilk substitutes that call for using vinegar (acetic acid) with milk substitutes, does cooking with it behave the same way as actual buttermilk (lactic acid)?

I want to start doing more baking, but my lactose* intolerance is getting exponentially worse, and if vegan/non-milk substitutes are acceptable, awesome.

*I somehow suspect that it might not actually be lactose but perhaps some other component of whey? I can stand dried skim milk and cream in cooking, but the amount of (soft/fresh) cheese that I can have is dropping like a rock.
posted by porpoise at 8:11 PM on May 9, 2012


I don't drink buttermilk, but I've always wanted to give a pig a buttermilk bath.

One of the vignettes in Saroyan's Places Where I've Done Time is about going into a creamery during the summertime in Fresno in 1922, when he was a child. He describes the glass pitchers of buttermilk sitting on a marble counter top and the sign, "All You Can Drink, 5 cents." You paid a nickel, filled a glass and sprinkled salt on it. "I never drank less than three glasses, and frequently as many as six or even seven."
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:29 PM on May 9, 2012 [2 favorites]


is that their store brand or does your Kroger's carry other brands of buttermilk?

I had to go dig it out of the recycling, twice, because my memory is THAT bad. It’s "Marburger" Gourmet Buttermilk, and it says Whole Milk. It’s good.

And I got curious and looked it up. It seems to be this place. Honestly, I hadn’t paid much attention, we just grabbed buttermilk. Perhaps there IS a difference. I will pay attention from now on.

And I realize I’ve flat out lied to you, inadvertently. It’s from Publix. We don’t go to Kroger that much, only when it’s late and there’s an ice cream emergency, because they’re open later. Publix is closer and better.
posted by bongo_x at 8:49 PM on May 9, 2012


The way my dad did it was; fill a glass with cornbread, pour buttermilk over the top, eat with a spoon. My dad knows Country.
posted by bongo_x at 8:51 PM on May 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


The acid in the buttermilk reacts with the baking soda and helps your biscuits and other such foods "rise" in the oven. Baking powder is actually baking soda + an acid (usually called cream of tartar). When you mix it with a liquid it will allow the mix to rise as well. This is the reason that you can add some acid (lemon juice, vinegar) to milk and get the same reaction as with using buttermilk. There will be slight flavor differences.

The bacteria that go into buttermilk are different than those that go in kefir which gives different flavors. The process for making the two are different as well. This is true of yogurt and sour cream which are not really substitutes for each other even though every weight loss recipe will tell you that they are. The different bacteria create different organic acids and those have different flavors.

The liquid that comes off of making butter is not really acidic at all. Sort of sweet and, well, buttery tasting? One other reason that buttermilk is no longer made (at least in the US) by skimming the liquid off of the butter making process is that it cannot be considered a "Grade A" product....at least, that's what my dairy science teacher told me. I haven't looked it up and she was a bit crazy.

Some greek yogurts on the market are what i would call "fortified" greek as opposed to "separated" greek. The separated greek yogurt (plain) will have milk and culture on the label. The fortified greek (plain) may have other ingredients such as milk protein concentrate, food starch, and others. If you see a fruit on the bottom or flavored greek yogurt keep in mind it may be separated or fortified (milk protein concentrate is the secret for "fortified") but that the fruit contains the food starch. Most of the yogurt companies in the US are coming out with more higher fat greek yogurts. You just have to look for them and some grocery stores do not carry. I could go on all day about dairy products but I'll stop.
posted by catseatcheese at 7:48 AM on May 13, 2012


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