Homemade Buttermilk

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.

Homemade Buttermilk
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.

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8 Responses to Homemade Buttermilk

  1. Maggie Howe says:

    Sign me up. I absolutely LOVE buttermilk. I need to order some starter! Gotta sit down and get my order together 🙂 I have not tried it with salt AND pepper, but, I drink something very similar – a turkish drink that is basically yogurt, thinned a bit and iced, with salt sprinkled on top. See, we’re both weird 🙂 http://iowacorndog.blogspot.com/2010/02/ayran-tart-yogurt-drink.html

  2. Rebekah says:

    Oooo!!! Thank you for the link, Maggie! I’ve got some homemade greek yogurt in my fridge, so I may just try it today!

  3. janiece says:

    I’m 53 years old and have never used buttermilk for anything but soapmaking! There’s a whole new world out there for me. 🙂

  4. I would love buttermilk starter to try. I’ve heard that it is really good in smoothies and I’ve been itching to try a buttermilk lemon popsicle recipe I found for the children. Won’t get a yuck from me! 🙂

  5. I have only tried the powder for soap.. now I am curious about trying it as food 😀

  6. Rebekah says:

    Courtney, that might be the buttermilk lemon pop recipe I posted last week. I also posted a chilled avocado soup recipe that uses buttermilk as the base. Also, for great southern pan fried chicken try soaking your chicken in buttermilk overnight before dredging in seasoned flour. Best way to fry chicken ever!

  7. Carissa says:

    I’m so glad you posted your buttermilk recipe – I’ve been wanting to try it!

  8. kathie says:

    Hooray! I love buttermilk, and until this day I thought I was the only one in the world who loved it with salt and pepper! (Turns out that I learned this as a child, some 50-plus years ago, from an Arkansan, here in California!). By the way, I also add a few ice cubes, just to make it even cooler and better. Thanks for the advice!

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