When someone refers to buttermilk, they’re often referring to one of two things:
Most commonly, they’re referring to a type of thicker, sour-tasting milk, which many buy at the grocery store to use in cooking. This buttermilk is made from active cultures added to milk, which creates lactic acid, which is what causes the tart taste – and also makes buttermilk a great ingredient for recipes.
Traditionally, the term buttermilk is also used to refer to the liquid that’s left after butter has been made from milk or cream.
Today, people use buttermilk in their recipes for several reasons:
When it comes to baking, many use it because it results in a light, moist treat. That’s because the lactic acid reacts with the recipe’s leavening agent, which not only results in a fizzy reaction, but also cancels out the sourness of the milk.
Some may also use it as a marinade to tenderize meat, like when they’re frying, baking or even roasting chicken.
Buttermilk can be a tricky ingredient since most don’t always keep it on hand. Fortunately, it can be easy to make a good substitute at home with a little lemon juice or vinegar added to milk. Check out The Kitchn’s simple tutorial and video to learn more.
Once you have your buttermilk, whether store-bought or homemade, try it in one of the recipes below!