You know how sometimes you just don’t feel like getting into the car and driving all the way to the store just to buy a single missing ingredient, like say, buttermilk? Well my excuse is different. I don’t think we actually get any liquid buttermilk here. As you might know, aside from sour cream and yogurt, buttermilk is a staple in most quick bread, cupcake or muffin recipes, because it helps in creating a moist cake. And at some point I got sick of skipping over recipes I really wanted to try but had the word buttermilk in them. So in the spirit of experimentation, I made my own buttermilk. I don’t know what I was expecting to happen, avoiding this moment for so long. In hindsight, I’m not even sure why I was so worried at all!
Making buttermilk is actually very easy, and chances are the things you need to make it are readily available in your home. It doesn’t call for any butter, despite its name, and it’s actually a lot healthier than I perceived it to be (again, probably because of its name). Basically, it’s a thicker version of milk. At first I had my doubts, because I have nothing to compare homemade buttermilk to. I have never seen nor tasted real buttermilk before (though they say it tastes a bit like yogurt), and using buttermilk powder just doesn’t feel right for me. But after two successful recipes using this concoction, I can tell you this is a pretty safe trick to do.
For every cup of buttermilk you need, take a cup of regular milk (or low-fat milk if your recipe calls for low-fat buttermilk), and add to it a tablespoon of white vinegar. If you really want an exact measurement then you can lessen your cup of milk by a tablespoon, as you will be adding a tablespoon of vinegar to compensate anyway. You can also substitute the same amount of lemon juice for the vinegar, but I hear the latter works better.
You can just leave the mixture at room temperature for 10 to 15, or even 30 minutes. During this stage, the milk will start to curdle. After this period you can give the mixture a little stir, and voila! You can use it immediately, or you can refrigerate it for future use in an airtight container. Just remember to shake it a little before use as the vinegar and milk tend to separate when left alone. Homemade buttermilk can last up to several weeks, but to be sure, see the expiration date on the milk carton you used to estimate how long your buttermilk may last.
If you’re fine with using powdered buttermilk, just mix 4 tablespoons of the powder into 1 cup of water. Here are some other buttermilk substitutes you might want to use when you bake:
1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup buttermilk = 1/2 cup plain yogurt plus 1/2 cup plain milk plus 1/2 teaspoon vinegar/lemon juice
1 cup buttermilk = 1/4 cup milk plus 3/4 cup plain yogurt
1 cup buttermilk = 1 cup milk plus 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar