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~ Powdered Buttermilk -- What It is and How to use It ~

IMG_5742Once upon a time, buttermilk was something I kept on hand.  As a cook and baker for our family of five, I used it regularly to make quite a few things:  pancakes, waffles, biscuits, scones, coffee cake, pound cake, fried chicken and salad dressing.  To breads and cakes it adds tangy flavor and volume and produces a fine, soft crumb.  Its acidity when used as a marinade is a natural tenderizer for poultry and meat.  There's more.  It does all this without adding a lot of extra fat.

IMG_5747Times change.  Our children grew up and left the nest.  That left me with buttermilk that went bad before I could use it, so, I stopped buying it. That also left me without buttermilk when I needed it. Then, for some reason I've never been able to figure out, real-deal buttermilk disappeared from the dairy cases of my local grocery stores -- true buttermilk is the liquid that remains when butter is churned from cream. It was replaced by, 1%- and 2%- fat, meaning:  it's made from skim milk with lab cultures added to replicate the acidity of old-fashioned, buttermilk.  While it might be healthier to drink, it poses cooking problems in recipes that require buttermilk to thicken them. For example:  the consistency of crème fraîche isn't ideal made with 1%- or 2%- fat buttermilk.

How to Make Old-Fashioned Buttermilk from 1%- 2%- fat Buttermilk

IMG_5751Here in Happy Valley, home of The Pennsylvania State University, we have a place called the Berkey Creamery.  They make and sell all dairy products -- and are known for their ice cream.  No one visits campus without a stop there, they ship it to alumni all over the globe, and, people come from all over the world to learn how to make ice cream from them.  Over twenty-years ago, one afternoon I placed a call to them and asked to speak to the manager.  I explained my buttermilk problem.  An hour later, he called me with this formula, which he had their lab scale down from giant, commercial-sized thousand-gallon vats to quarts and cups for my home kitchen.

To 1-quart, 2% buttermilk: stir in 8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) heavy cream

To 1-quart, 1% buttermilk: stir in 16 tablespoons (1 cup) heavy cream

In a 2-quart saucepan, stir together the buttermilk and cream.  Partially cover and set aside at room temperature for 24-36 hours.  Do not stir.  Using a large spoon or ladle, carefully skim as much of the thickened buttermilk from the top as possible.  Discard the looser bottom liquid.  

Yield: 3 - 3 1/2 cups old-fashioned buttermilk.

Buttermilk powder, is made by drying buttermilk to a powder.

IMG_5759This nice man from the Berkey Creamery also told me about a product called dried buttermilk powder -- which he explained is ideal when you don't have use for 3 - 3 1/2 cups of real deal buttermilk. Buttermilk powder is made with old-fashioned buttermilk that has been pasteurized, then concentrated with an evaporator, and, spray or roll dried at a low temperature.  It can be used as a dried ingredient -- you’ll come across it included with flour mixtures in recipes for pancakes or bread, or with the coating mixtures in recipes for fried chicken or pork chops.  That said, it can also be reconstituted with water (although I often use whole milk), but, it is not meant for drinking.  It has a long pantry shelf life or longer freezer shelf life, which is perfect for me.  The brand that I use is organic and from Barry Farm Foods (, in Ohio. The directions instruct to stir 1/3 cup powder w/1 cup water; 2/3 cup powder w/2 cups water; 1 cup powder w/3 cups water.  

Read and follow the directions on the label -- they can and do vary.  In the case of Barry Farms buttermilk powder, 1/3 cup dry buttermilk powder is equivalent to 1 cup buttermilk.  

IMG_5753Powdered Buttermilk -- What It is and How to use It.:  Recipe yields instructions for making old-fashioned buttermilk from skim buttermilk, and, instructions for reconstituting buttermilk powder.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017) 


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