Welcome to the new year. January seems to be the official month of belt tightening. Cinched spending, and trimmed eating. The glorious indulgence of the holidays screeches to a halt: it is January 2nd and I've come home to any empty fridge. I need to decide what we are eating and go shop for it this afternoon. And I'm not in the mood for spending money, since I exercised that urge enough in recent months, but we must eat... So more than anything this is the time of year I declare, I can do it myself.
I won't lie derive a certain measure of pleasure, a sense of accomplishment when I can do something myself that I previously hadn't placed in my realm of possibility. (Like when I did the research as to why our dryer was screaming, ordered the parts and fixed that whiny beast together with Justin- that might have fallen into the unrighteous pride category, since we aren't naturally skilled like that.) Major repairs may not be my forte, but when it come to saving some money on groceries and preventing waste, that I can do. I culture my own buttermilk, really anyone can, and once they realize how easy it is, I will really have nothing to brag about save the singular appliance repair, whose glory I must share with my husband.
Back to buttermilk. True buttermilk is the milk leftover after churning cream into butter. That stuff is lovely, but almost never seen now. If you have never made butter I recommend doing it and trying the stuff sometime, it is sweeter than the tangy stuff we call buttermilk now, and not so thick. What we call buttermilk now, is really cultured milk. Good bacteria introduced to fresh milk that cultures it, thickening, and creating that classic buttermilk tang. That flavor is so rich and satisfying whether in a dressing, baked good or how ever you like it. The culture helps relax the gluten in flour, the reason why buttermilk bread is my most successful and favorite 100% whole wheat bread recipe of all time.
And when buttermilk is so useful and delicious, there is no reason you should be without it, if you like it as much as I do. But if you are also like me, you wonder if there is a way you can do it yourself. So when you know you need 2 cups of buttermilk to make oatmeal pancakes in the morning, and when you pick up the carton it is regrettably too light, don't panic. You can make buttermilk in your sleep. Yes, you heard me right. Read on, and then laugh that this counts as recipe.
Pour a minimum of 1/4 cup of cultured buttermilk to a quart sized container- I prefer a glass jar with a lid.
Fill with milk until you have 4 cups.
Set in a warm place for 8-24 hours. (Next to the oven or dishwasher is good)
Buttermilk clabber, culture and thicken. It is totally fine to leave on the counter until you reach your desired consistency- don't worry if you are satisfied with the results in just 8 hours- the warmth of the room and amount of buttermilk you started with can cause variation in the time it takes to thicken.
When thickened and tangy, shake it, and put in the fridge, it is ready to use.
And yes, you can continue to make buttermilk this way from the remnants of that culture, I just transfer to a clean jar each time.
Have you made buttermilk before? What is your favorite way to use it?