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Cultured buttermilk, often known simply as "buttermilk", was first commercially introduced in the United States in the 1920s. It was popular among immigrants, and viewed as a food that could slow aging. Up until the 1960’s, buttermilk was a popular addition to any kitchen. Sadly, yoghurt quickly become the consumer favourite fermented milk product, and slowly cultured buttermilk fell into decline around the world.

Cultured buttermilk is a a tangy-flavoured thick milk product that can be enjoyed raw or used for baking. Lactococcus lactis and Lactobacillus bulgaricus are the bacteria responsible for fermenting milk into buttermilk. Cultured buttermilk is fermented at room temperate meaning no additional equipment is needed to create it. It is a fermented alternative to regular milk.

Cultured Buttermilk is often used in baking because of its special properties. Many people use buttermilk in baking as it brings a pleasant tang to cakes, bread, biscuits, pancakes, or dressings. Because this rich-tasting milk is an acidic ingredient, like yoghurt and sour cream, it also gives baked goods a softer texture and more body, and it helps quick bread rise.

Please note: Cooking with high temperatures will kill the bacteria in buttermilk.

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How to make Cultured Buttermilk

Activating your dehydrated cultured buttermilk starter

To activate your buttermilk, boil 150ml of whole pasteurised milk and allow it to cool back to room temperature. Place the dried buttermilk into the milk and leave it for 24-48hours until you notice that the milk has set. Then remove two tablespoons from the mixture to add to the next batch and follow the instructions below. We recommend you discard the remainder of the buttermilk after removing the two tablespoons as it likely to have slightly spoiled.

  • 500ml of pasteurised milk (whole milk works best). Boil the milk before hand and then allow it too cool back down to room temperature. Never place your Buttermilk starter culture into hot milk. Always allow it to cool back down after boiling!
  • Your Cultured Buttermilk starter culture.
  • Fill a bowl with 500ml of milk. Boil the milk before hand and then allow it too cool back down to room temperature. We find that using something with a large surface area that is also quite shallow in depth produces the best overall consistency of buttermilk.
  • Add the Buttermilk starter culture and stir well.
  • Cover the bowl with a clean towel and leave it out at room temperature (19-21 degrees celsius) for 12-48 hours until the buttermilk has set.
  • Before you use it, pull out a tablespoon or so to reculture the next batch. You could, of course, reculture several batches, depending on how many you’ll need for the next day.
  • If you can’t use your Cultured Buttermilk that day, it will keep in the refrigerator up to 10 days, and you can use it to reculture other batches during that time.
  • Ensure you reculture your Buttermilk at least once a week to keep it healthy and active.

If you have more than one fermenting food culture at home, we recommend that you keep them at least 1 metre apart from each other at all times. This is to stop cross contamination of the different cultures. If you are working with dairy in particular, this is very important. Please contact us is you require further assistance with fermenting more than one culture.
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