Two Ways to Make Buttermilk from Powdered Milk

Easy recipe for “cooking” buttermilk – Image by Francis Storr

Buttermilk used to be what we called the liquid left when butter was churned out of fresh milk. Today, however, you’d be hard pressed to find any of that great stuff. Instead, nowadays, we make almost all ‘buttermilk’ with nonfat milk that’s been fermented with bacteria that produces lactic acid. Fat content varies slightly, but buttermilk today has about 2 grams of fat, slightly less than 100 calories, and has less fat in it than an equal amount of whole milk.

There are lots of foods that are made more delicious when buttermilk is added, such as buttermilk biscuits, buttermilk pancakes, creamy dressings and sauces. Too often, however, when the recipe calls for buttermilk and we don’t have any, we just either skip the recipe or substitute regular milk. That affects the flavor of whatever we’re cooking – and all because we don’t know how easy it is to make a substitute buttermilk that is great for cooking.

Make Buttermilk from Regular Milk

If you have a recipe calling for a cup of buttermilk, and you have regular milk on hand, just take a cup of whatever variety of milk you have on hand and add in a tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Stir it up together and let it stand for 5 or 10 minutes before using it as an ingredient in your dish.

Make Buttermilk from Powdered Dry Milk

Okay, what if you don’t have any regular, store-bought milk and you need a cup of buttermilk? No worries! Take a cup of water and add one third of a cup of dry powdered milk, mix it well and then add one tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Mix this well and let it sit for 5 or 10 minutes before adding it to your dish. Warning: This way of making buttermilk doesn’t result in yummy-tasting drinkable buttermilk – it’s just good for cooking, in my opinion.

Cultured Buttermilk Using Dry Milk

Another way to make buttermilk is to make up a batch of powdered milk in a glass container, according to directions and then use this ratio:

One part cultured buttermilk to eight parts reconstituted powdered milk:

  • Two cups milk (1 pint) to one quarter cup buttermilk
  • Four cups milk (1 quart) to one half cup buttermilk
  • Eight cups milk (1/2 gallon) to one cup buttermilk

Thoroughly mix the buttermilk into the reconstituted milk. Shake it well and let it sit, covered, on the counter until it “clabbers up.” You’ll recognize this thickened cultured milk – it’ll take about five or six hours in a summer kitchen, and about ten or so hours in the wintertime. Refrigerate it when it is the consistency you like.

Yum! Home-made Buttermilk

When you make buttermilk by this method, you can drink it or cook with it – it’s not old fashioned buttermilk but it is equivalent to store bought or better.

Buttermilk from powdered milk – Image by grongar

Don’t have store-bought cultured buttermilk? You can find dry powdered buttermilk that is really good. I’ve found it a few times over the years. Reconstitute this according to the directions given and, while you might or might not be able to culture with it, you can surely cook with it and drink it. Look for it on the internet, in specialty stores and other health-food type stores. It is well worth adding to your prep panty.

These ways to quickly make buttermilk really boosts your ability to utilize prepper pantry items to the maximum possible. Powdered dry milk can be a real help when you need to jazz up bland meals during stressful times when you are eating entirely out of the prep pantry.

How do you use buttermilk? Ever made your own by either of these two methods? We’d love to learn your tips!

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  1. HarvestMama says

    Once in a while I will buy a quart of quality, heavy cream. It’s easy to churn it into butter with my Kitchen Aid mixer. I will end up with about a pint of real buttermilk. It can be frozen in half pint jars for later use. I know it’s not something that would work for long term “prepper” type storage, but it’s fun to do and so delicious for a treat every now and then. Also, Saco makes a good powdered buttermilk that can be found at every local market around here on the Northwest Coast. Don’t know how available it is in other areas.


  2. says

    Thank you!!! I HAD some buttermilk powder, but it had gone bad and I just inherited a wheat grinder (happy dance!!!) to use with my wheat. Now the only thing standing between me and an incredible whole wheat pancake recipe was buttermilk. I knew there were tricks to sub regular store bought milk with vinegar for buttermilk, but thought I might be out of luck trying to use my powdered milk. Then you came to the rescue!!! Thank you for all of this amazingly wonderful information! I am so excited to make these pancakes and to have found your site! God bless. :)

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