Buttermilk is a common ingredient in foods from around the world, and while it's been a key staple in many classics, it's making its way into some of the current food trends. While most of us have likely enjoyed a stack of buttermilk pancakes, there's still confusion about what buttermilk is exactly. In essence, buttermilk is a pale yellow liquid that's created during the process of churning butter. It's typically fermented, producing a lactic acid content that yields a slightly tangy flavor and a thick, creamy consistency that's ideal for baking.
In addition to pancakes, buttermilk shows up in a range of recipes, from biscuits, bread, and traditional desserts to thick, creamy salad dressings and as an unexpected ingredient in a number of curry and soup recipes. Buttermilk can also be enjoyed solo and is more nutritious than one might expect. In fact, the same fermentation process that gives buttermilk its flavor and consistency also makes it rich in probiotics, which are key to optimal gut health.
How to Make Buttermilk
While it may be tempting to grab a pre-made bottle of buttermilk from your local dairy aisle, learning how to make buttermilk is actually far easier than you may think. To get started, here's what you'll need.
Carton of heavy cream, unpasteurized
Jar that can be tightly sealed or an electric mixer
Container for storage
Whether you opt for a jar or an electric mixer depends on the quantity of buttermilk you hope to make.
Fill the jar halfway with heavy cream. Seal it and shake. For a larger batch, use an electronic mixer, again only filling the container halfway.
Shake or mix cream until heavy whipping cream is formed. Continue to shake or mix until the cream separates. The thick, yellow substance is butter, and the excess liquid is the buttermilk.
Strain buttermilk into a glass or jar, and let rest overnight.
Place the butter portion under cold water and knead to remove excess buttermilk.
An Alternative Method
For those with no time to waste, an alternate method for making buttermilk at home entails simply squeezing a fresh lemon into a cup of milk and allowing the acid to interact with the dairy. Watch the video below to give it a try.
Now that you know how to make buttermilk, here's a guide to a few of our favorite healthy pancake recipes.