Mad, Beautiful Ideas
Continued Adventures in Whole Food: Buttermilk

Last week Catherine and I made home-made yogurt, which I’ve been using primarily as a topping for my cereal in the morning. it’s just a bit tart, but still really tasty, and the best part of yogurt, is that to make more, it’s basically as simple as adding more milk. I’ll talk about yogurt soon.

This week, however, i’m going to be talking about Culture Buttermilk. We bought a buttermilk culture off of Etsy, and making the buttermilk is painfully simply. We took a mason jar, filled it with a quart of whole milk, and added the culture, which amounted to about a 1/4 cup of culture. As we opened the culture, Catherine’s first reaction was that it ‘smelt like feet’. Unfortunately, I agreed with the sentiment. Fortunately, the smell does not carry.

Since it is still relatively cool here in Pullman, we left the cultured milk on the counter, covered with a flat dishtowel to stuff out, but to ensure that pressure wouldn’t build in the jar, as the process was basically bacteria which ate lactose to create lactic acid. We ended up leaving the culture on the counter for the next four days, though in retrospect, the culture probably began to separate sooner, and we could have (possibly should have) put it in the fridge (with a real lid) a day or two earlier. The important part of this fermentation period is that you don’t let the culture exceed ~80 degrees Fahrenheit, though around here in the summer, this might be hard.

So, why bother? Well, the unique acidity of Buttermilk really lends itself well to baking. There is nothing quite like the taste of real buttermilk pancakes, or biscuits for that matter. It really seems like Buttermilk in lieu of normal milk will pretty much always improve a baked good, though I haven’t fully tested this theory yet. I suppose Cookies may not always benefit, but most breads and other leavened baked goods will likely benefit.

We’re planning to do some baking this week, so I should be able to report back soon with the results.