With a little food science, you can conjure buttermilk from thin air. Well, kinda’. Learn how to make buttermilk with just milk, lemon, or vinegar as a substitute for buttermilk in almost any recipe, in this edition of Kitchen Basics.
I take issue with buying buttermilk. Largely because it only comes in liter (2 quarts) containers and I really only need 250mls (1 cup) for most recipes. As a general rule, I waste the rest and hey, that’s my money going down the drain.
I don’t like throwing money away and I really hate wasting food. It’s a personal pet peeve no doubt deeply rooted in a family upbringing where food was precious, so every bit of it was treated with the utmost respect.
What is buttermilk anyway?
Traditional buttermilk is sour milk leftover from making cheese or cream, but that’s not what you’re buying in most grocery stores. Most commercially produced buttermilk we buy on the shelves now is a cultured product produced with the addition of Lactococcus lactis cultures to simulate the naturally occurring bacteria found in old-fashioned buttermilk, but it bakes well.
So instead of buying buttermilk for every recipe that calls for it (and wasting food), I use a trick my Grandmother taught me, many summers ago. To make an instant buttermilk substitute Grandma would sour regular milk with a little lemon or white vinegar and voila – buttermilk (aka acidified buttermilk).
How Far Can You Hack Your Buttermilk?
The only application that I don’t recommend this buttermilk substitute for is buttermilk chicken, be it roasted or brined, or fried. For that, use real buttermilk. The enzymes and cultures (be they natural or introduced) in the buttermilk helps to break down the meat and make it creamy and juicy. Also, chances are you’ll use the whole four cups for fried chicken, so splurge. I mean come on, whoever heard of doing two pieces of fried chicken!?
How to make buttermilk substitute, in an instant. A kitchen basic for every cook.
Cooking in her home kitchen just outside Ottawa, Canada; Cori Horton is a food photographer and recipe blogger. A Cordon Bleu-trained Chef, Cori spent five years as the owner of Nova Scotia's Dragonfly Inn and has been sharing all things delicious - right here - since 2010.