Did you know that you can make your own cultured buttermilk in less than five minutes of hands-on time? Fresh buttermilk was something I often avoided in supermarkets because a) I could never use it all before it went bad, and b) it was expensive.
But making it is surprisingly simple. All you need to start off with is a little fresh buttermilk and the milk of your choice (I use whole milk, but you could also use low-fat). If you purchase one quart of buttermilk, use some of it for buttermilk pancakes, freeze some in ice cube trays (I'll tell you why later), and then keep about a half-cup for making another batch.
First, find a one-quart container and put the buttermilk in it. Fill the rest of the container with regular milk, stir it around, and leave it on the counter for about eight hours or so. It should thicken and become regular buttermilk by then. Sometimes, mine gets so thick that I have to break it up with an immersion blender, but it's good to go after that.
The frozen buttermilk ice cubes can be thawed out in the future to make more batches of buttermilk if yours goes bad. I would probably use four to five to make it, and would also expect the process to take a little longer just in case the cultures need to wake up a little.
Now for the numbers geek in me: let's calculate how much I save in 5 minutes of hands-on time.
- One quart of fresh buttermilk from the supermarket costs $1.69.
- One quart of whole milk at current prices (Oct. 2015) costs $0.50 when it goes on sale.
- I can save $1.19 in five minutes, or $1.19*12 = $14.28 per hour.
This is definitely worth my time, not to mention the benefits of having fresh buttermilk for things like pancakes, the world's best homemade ranch dressing (recipe to come in the next post), and garam masala depression chocolate cake (the last recipe sounds weird, but it is SO good).
What are your favorite ways to use buttermilk?