Is Sour Milk the Same as Buttermilk?

Reader Contribution by Staff

Is sour milk the same as buttermilk? I have half a quart of gooey milk to do something with.

The traditional thing to do with (slightly) sour milk is to make pudding. I made this butterscotch pudding recipe recently, and it was really good, but super-duper-rich, and maybe too sweet. (But it calls for real Scotch — fun!)

You can also bake numerous things with milk. Make enchiladas in a creamy cheesy sauce or bake a chicken breast or fish filet with milk and herbs poured over it.

But beware. Sour milk is not the same as buttermilk. Buttermilk is either purposefully cultured to get a sour taste or is the byproduct of butter making. If raw milk sours, it’s perfectly fine to drink and that’s the way most of the world drinks milk. But if pasteurized milk sours, it’s just on its way to going bad. You make cream sauces or puddings when the milk is just a little on the sour side and not sweet enough to drink, but if it’s truly funky (and was regular pasteurized milk), throw it out!

To learn more fascinating things about milk, I highly recommend Milk: The Surprising Story of Milk Through the Ages by Anne Mendelson.

Tabitha Alterman, senior associate editor