Buttermilk, The Other Milk
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Do you remember kindergarten when your teacher may have gathered you and your classmates, on the floor, around her, not far from her crossed ankles.

The rest of you looked up at, in my case Miss Pettis, when she announced we were going to make butter! Next to her we saw a glass bowl, a small carton of heavy cream and an egg beater.

“Today, we are going to make our own butter,” Miss Pettis announced. “Butter is a food from 5,000 years ago. In fact. The early Hindus used butter as we use money today …”

This brought squeels of gooiness and grossness from us as we shook our hands rather wildly and let out several “Eeeeeeeuuuuuuuuuuu’s!”

“It was valuable,” she defended, not willing to get into wallets, change purses and the like.

The class quieted down quickly, eager to see how Miss Pettis would turn cream into money.

Miss Pettis put on an apron and put the bowl on her lap. Next, she opened the cream carton and patiently emptied it all into the bowl. Then she began to mix the cream with her egg beater. She confidently turned the little handle steadily beating.

And beating.

And beating.

Then, suddenly, she wasn’t beating a liquid any more, and the more she beat, the less we saw liquid.

At last, arms tired, Miss Pettis stopped beating, carefully removed the egg beater and lowered the bowl for eager us to see better.

“The cream is all gone,” some said.

“The almost clear liquid you see in the bowl is buttermilk,” she said. “It doesn’t look like the buttermilk we buy in a larger carton in the market. That is cultured buttermilk made from fermented milk with lactic acid. This, we have here, is traditional buttermilk.”

Next, Miss Pettis handed out flat, wooden Hoodsie spoons and a Saltine cracker to each child. She then circulated the bowl among us, and each classmate awkwardly served a blob of our homemade butter onto our cracker.

We thought it was the most delicious thing we had ever eaten, and we never pestered Miss Pettis about gooey butter as money or any messy wallets and change purses again!

Many years later, my daughter-in-law speaks of making fresh bread, and while it was still warm she’d made several different homemade butters, some with fresh strawberries, blueberries, nuts, basil, orange zest and cinnamon-sugar.

What an exquisite way to celebrate fresh-made bread!

Cultured buttermilk, if you have the taste for it, has many uses in our kitchens today. If you bake with it, however, select a recipe which actually calls for buttermilk, one where the baking powder/baking soda amounts will have been adjusted for buttermilk use.

Here’s some uses for buttermilk:

  • Muffins
  • Pancakes/waffles
  • Cornbread
  • Doughnuts
  • Bread
  • Cake
  • Cookies
  • Biscuits
  • Smoothies
  • Breading coating
  • Pie
  • Salad dressing
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Soup
  • Panna cotta
  • Dressing
  • Ice cream/sherbet
  • Dipping sauce
  • Gravy
  • BBQ sauce
  • Brine
  • Oatmeal

About Marty Martindale

Foodsite Magazine and Marty aim to help the cooking-challenged avoid dependence on others due to lack of cooking knowhow. We concentrate on quick breakfasts, portable lunches and “good-4-u” night meals. With readily available web translation, the magazine explains separate foods, a little of their history, their nutrition, suggested “go-withs,” serving ideas and links to foodsites with recipes.

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