As much as I use and reference the buttermilk I make, I figure I had better hurry up and show you how I make it. After all, the name of the blog is Birdworms & Buttermilk.
I’m one of those nut jobs who likes to drink buttermilk, and it’s all my dad’s fault (yes, I just heard your collective “Eeeeewwwww!!!!”). He introduced me to buttermilk when I was a very little kid, and didn’t know that buttermilk is supposed to be icky. Even worse, he taught me to drink it the way Southerners and hillbillies do, with salt and pepper. And, before anyone thinks of writing me to chew me out for saying “hillbilly”, you need to know that I think hillbillies are awesome people…. one of my favorite people is a self professed hillbilly from the hills of Kentucky, a really cool guy.
Before getting into the how-to part of things, I’d like to highlight a couple of points. To begin, the buttermilk I’m referring to is cultured buttermilk, not churn buttermilk (the watery stuff left over from making butter). Also, I make my buttermilk from whole milk, so it’s not low fat. If you want to try making your own buttermilk, feel free to use low fat or skim milk. Next, with the whole probiotic craze we’re seeing in the media these days, it’s worth mentioning that buttermilk is a great source of these beneficial bacteria, and WAY less expensive than yogurt.
Because I make so many cultured milk products (buttermilk, sour cream, yogurt), I invested in an insulated container call a Yogotherm in which to make my yummy goodness. I get most of my cheesemaking supplies, including my cultures, from New England Cheesemaking Supply. I love their direct set cultures, which make cheesemaking and culturing a no-brainer-snap. Honestly, you don’t need a fancy piece of equipment to make buttermilk. If it’s summer time, you can make it in quart canning jar and find a spot (out of the sun) where the jar will maintain a temperature of about 80 degrees. Another great option is a Rubbermaid 1/2 Gallon Thermal Jug. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if you already have one lurking around in your garage or basement. Just make sure you sanitize it first. Another thing you’re going to need to make buttermilk is a culture to add to your milk. I use New England’s direct set buttermilk culture. Lastly, you will need a thermometer. A standard meat thermometer should do the trick.
1 to 2 quarts whole, skim, or low fat milk
1 packet direct set buttermilk culture
1. Heat milk to 85 degrees. I do this in the microwave, but you can also do it by placing your container in a sink full of hot water.
2. Sprinkle buttermilk culture over the surface of your warmed milk and wait a couple of minutes for the powder to rehydrate.
3. Stir milk until culture is thoroughly dissolved and mixed into the milk.
4. Pour milk into your insulated container or canning jar. Let milk sit at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, or until thickened. Because I use 2 quarts of milk at a time, I allow mine to sit for up to 36 hours.
5. Once your buttermilk is finished culturing, refrigerate and use within 2 weeks.
Just for a little fun, if you leave a comment at the bottom of this post, I’ll draw from the names and send someone a 5 pack of buttermilk starter culture. Deadline to enter your comment is this Sunday evening, July 18th at 8 PM.