Saturday, November 15, 2008

In House Cultured Buttermilk

One of my youngest daughter's favorite weekend morning rituals, is to make buttermilk pancakes.  Like many people, when I do not have time to run to the store and purchase buttermilk, I would do what everyone else does and add lemon juice or vinegar to my milk and call it done. 

In truth, the acid in the lemon juice reacts to the baking soda (baking powder reacts to heat) the way buttermilk is suppose to do, BUT the flavor really misses the mark. A nice fresh buttermilk, is really a thing of beauty, and I wonder why we no longer make or use it. 


 I recently learned how easy it is to make at home, and if you use milk from our very own Longmont Dairy, your fresh buttermilk will last at least 2 weeks before you have to think about using it up.

 Just a quick bit of history before you begin.  There are two types of buttermilk: Traditional or Old Fashioned buttermilk, which is the by product left over from butter production.  My grandmother called this "sweet buttermilk". The second type is called fermented or cultured buttermilk, it is a thicker product and it is produced when good bacteria is introduced and fermentation is allowed.

Cultured buttermilk takes about 12-16 hours to make, but it only takes a minute to assemble, and the rest of the time it just sits on your counter. Yes, it's fine sitting out on your counter. No, you won't die a horrible dairy death. No really, YOU won't be the exception. If you want to know the science behind it all, click on: Cultured Buttermilk.

The site above uses a higher ratio of cultured buttermilk to start his recipe, however I have found you do not need the amount he suggests.

Cultured Buttermilk
1 quart skim milk (I use 1% also)**
3 Tbl store bought cultured buttermilk ( this is your starter, you won't have to buy it again)

Place your milk and buttermilk in a jar with a lid. I use mason jars or the glass jar my milk is delivered in. I then put the jar in a pan with warm water (body temp is fine) to speed up the fermentation  process.  Once the milk has warmed up, I place it on the counter and wait about 12 hours before I check it.  The finished product should coat the class when it is tilted.  You will find the taste mild with a very slight tang.  Once it is thick, store it in the refrigerator.

 Fresh buttermilk can be used in smoothies in place of yogurt or in your favorite buttermilk pancake recipe.  I also use it in mashed sweet and regular potatoes, soups, breads, muffins, cake mixes, etc., etc..

**Every few weeks, remove a few tablespoons of your "old" buttermilk and add it to fresh skim milk, leave it on the counter and you have new cultured buttermilk.  
**If you use heavy whipping cream with the same recipe, you will have a really good version of Creme Fraiche!


Chef Deb

P.S. You still have time to buy storage fruits and vegetables from some of your favorite farms. Help these farmers have a good winter, and support your local producers.

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