Why is there no butter in buttermilk?

The recipe uses Buttermilk. Buttermilk is a name used to refer to several different dairy products.  However in this recipe it is referring to Cultured Butter Milk that you find in the milk section fo your local store. If you can’t get any, it says you can make your own by adding a teaspoon of distilled white vingar to regular milk.  Is putting vinegar in milk all there is to it? Is buttermilk just sour (acidic) milk?

What is buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a by-product of making butter.  First you leave milk to sit so that the cream separates from the milk. During that time, the lactic acid bacteria in the milk causes it to ferment. Then you take the cream from the top of the milk and churn it.  Churning separates the butter from the cream leaving buttermilk which has a slightly tart taste due to the fermentation process.

However the buttermilk we buy is not made from cream.  Commercial buttermilk is made by adding a lactic acid bacteria culture to milk. After adding the culture, the milk is left to ferment for 12 to 14 hours at a low temperature (optimum 69 degrees F.).  You can add the culture to any type of milk: whole, skim, 2% to make Cultured Buttermilk. 

Is Light Buttermilk OK?

The recipe needs Cultured Buttermilk based on Whole Milk.  Much of the commercial buttermilk on the market is made from low fat milk and identifies itself as Cultured Light Buttermilk.  You cannot use Light or Low Fat Buttermilk as you will be reducing the fat content of your recipe with dire results.  Your cake will fall, rise and then fall again. So it won’t look so good and it won’t taste as good.

Is vinegar in milk the same?

There are two components to the buttermilk equation: lactic acid and bacteria.  Adding vinegar to whole milk deals with the acid part since vinegar is an acid (albiet a different one).  But it does not cover the “bacteria” part.  So while you end up with an acidic milk with a tart taste, it is not 100% the same composition of true buttermilk.  But it does the job.

How to make your own buttermilk

If you cannot find anything other than Cultured Light Buttermilk at your store, don’t despair, you can make your own.  All you have to do is add 1 part Cultured Light Buttermilk to 4 parts Wholemilk and leave it sit for 24 hours in a warm place to “clabber“.

The best thing is to buy a 20 oz Mason Jar (or save a jar from ready made spaghetti sauce).  Add 4 oz of fresh Cultured Light Buttermilk to 16 oz Whole Milk.  Give it a shake and then leave it somewhere warm.  Within a few hours you should see it thickening. After 24 hours it will be ready and you can put in in the fridge.

If you want to keep making it then save the last 4 oz each time and just repeat the process.

Posted by Annushka's Mum in
  1. […] Click here to read about how to make your own buttermilk. Posted by Annushka in Cup Cake Trials | Trackback […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.