Another name for my blog could be “Self-Sufficiency for the Lazy.” I love to make staples myself, especially easy-to-throw-together ones. And buttermilk ranks up near the top on the easy–lazy scale.
But isn’t buying it easier? I don’t know about that. It takes two minutes to start buttermilk—five if I spill something on the counter and make a mess—and I use ingredients I already have on hand. Even better, I don’t throw any milk cartons in the trash. (By the way, those paper cartons are lined with plastic. And plastic never breaks down. Ever.)
To make buttermilk (I use the word “make” loosely—the buttermilk really makes itself), you do need cultured buttermilk to get started. (Make sure it’s cultured and not just flavored—the bacteria do the work.) But once you have prepared your buttermilk, you just use some of it to make the next batch. Use some of that new batch to make the next batch, and so on and so on. Theoretically, you can go on like this forever. However, stuff happens. Occasionally mine will go bad through neglect, and to get it going again, I have to either buy some buttermilk or borrow a bit from a friend and start over. I hate when this happens, so lately, I’ve cultured small amounts.
I use my buttermilk mostly for sourdough waffles so I can use up my discarded starter (and eat absolutely delicious waffles). You can also use it to make ricotta cheese, creme fraiche, sour creme and probably lots of other things too. Or you can just drink it and reap the benefits of its live cultures.
The following recipe makes four cups.
- 1/2 cup cultured buttermilk
- 4 cups milk (I use organic, non-homogenized Straus milk)
1. Pour buttermilk and milk in a jar and stir or shake to combine.
2. Place jar in a warm, draft-free spot. I put mine inside my oven. It has a pilot light, so it’s warm in there (yes, I know it’s wasteful—I didn’t choose the oven; my landlord did). In the image above, you can see the buttermilk on the left. The bowl behind it contains my sourdough waffle batter. On the right sits my sourdough starter. It’s a microbe-fest in there…
I always leave the oven door ajar a little by stuffing one of my red oven mitts between the oven door and the oven. This warns everyone NOT to turn on the oven and kill my microbes, and the gap keeps everything in there from getting too warm.
3. Wait 24 hours. Transfer the jar to refrigerator.
That’s it. The buttermilk will keep for about two weeks.
When it’s ready, it’s thick and sticks to a spoon as in the photo above.