When I tell you how easy it is to make buttermilk, you'll kick yourself. I love to use buttermilk in pancakes, baked goods and my buttermilk panna cotta recipe, and créme fraîche (French sour cream) is divine in desserts, spooned on tacos, stirred into sauces and made into ice cream. Both have a nice creamy tang that’s delicious. But instead of using store-bought buttermilk or sour cream, I make my own in a continuous rolling batch that never ends.
When you first start your buttermilk, use the smallest carton of commercial buttermilk you can find, preferably organic, but get whatever you can afford. Next, you’ll need a quart of milk, whole, 2% or non-fat, it doesn't matter which kind you use. More fat equals creamier, heavier buttermilk, while less fat means more tang. The acid in buttermilk makes for high rising, nicely textured baked goods. The beauty of créme fraîche is that it does not curdle at high temperatures or with acids, so it’s perfect in pan sauces or creamy baked casseroles.
1/4 cup buttermilk
1 quart milk
Clean a quart jar with hot soapy water. Pour 1/4 cup buttermilk into the jar and top with milk. Stir to combine. Tie a clean piece of cheesecloth or dishtowel over the top. Set on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours. You now have buttermilk. Top with a lid and store in the refrigerator. Will last for several weeks before you need to make a fresh batch. When you being to run out, repeat the process, only this time use your own buttermilk as the starter. Violá! You have buttermilk forever.
For créme fraîche the process is identical, but you make half as much and use cream instead of milk. Add 2 tablespoons buttermilk to 1 pint of heavy cream. Set on the counter at room temperature for 24 hours, then refrigerate. I love to use this in place of heavy cream to make whipped cream for desserts. Yum.
Photos by Tammy Kimbler
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