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 (get powdered milk from Amazon if you don’t have any), 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.
Don’t have store-bought cultured buttermilk? You can find dry powdered buttermilk (Amazon) 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.
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.
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. :)
My mother used to always make buttermilk with powdered homemade
milk and bought buttermilk and then use the home cultured milk to make more cultured with powdered. I did this for many years and suddenly it didn t work. After a few failures, i gave up. I want to to try again. Glad i found your site. Thanks!
What is your recipe? My Mom use to make buttermilk from powdered milk, but it has literally been a years, and I cannot remember how she did it.
Do you mind sharing your recipe?
Hi, great article, thanks for this. I was wondering, I had full fat powdered milk, and tried doing this, and it didn’t quiet thicken up like I hoped it would. Is this because I am using full fat. I had tried with full fat regular milk in the past, and got the same type of consistency as this. I always thought the more fat, the thicker the consistency you will get in the end. Has my mistake all along been that I am using the full fat and not low fat?
Thanks in advance.
Trish Read says
Thank you! the buttermilk you buy in the Uk is very thin and watery so I am very happy to have a way to make my own
The recipe for making buttermilk from powdered milk, is it equivalent to one cup of buttermilk?
As a kid growing up in New Jersey farm country, we used to go to a farm stand and bought gallons of real buttermilk with big chunks of butter in it.Can I do the same with this recipe?? Thanks Dan Martin
katy freeman says
i have made buttermilk with dry milk for many years. i prefer it to store bought buttermilk. i make up two quarts of milk and add a cup of buttermilk. i save a cup from each to make the nex tbatch however lately the buttermilk made this way is slimmy. anyone know what the problems could be?
RUTH GOSSELIN says
I’ve never heard of powdered buttermilk we don’t have it here in the midwest Michigan only powdered milk
Martha Hager says
Thank you! I’ve always liked to drink buttermilk. Used to watch my Mom churn milk from our cows and I would dip the butter with a spoon as the dasher came down into the churn. Such sweet memories!
Some recipes call for “cultured” buttermilk to help with leavening. You can use other standard leavening agents if using the vinegar soured milk substitute however in baking (i.e. baking powder, sour cream, yogurt). OR IF not in a hurry, mix 1/3 cup Greek yogurt or cultured sour cream or cultured buttermilk (in case have a little but just not enough for recipe) with 1 cup milk in quart jar, cover with breathable cloth or coffee filter, let set at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours, then seal jar with lid and refrigerate until ready to use then give jar a shake.