Buttermilk is a very nutritious by product of the butter churning process. It is non fat (like one would expect of butter) but rather the milky part leftover from when the fat in milk/cream forms butter. It is acidic, so it tenderizes glutton in baked goods. Buttermilk provides a lovely brown in baked goods.
It provides a tang to recipes that wouldn't be present if using milk or cream.
Grocery stores provide non-fat and low-fat versions of buttermilk. Store bought buttermilk lasts a long time and thickens as it ages.
Now, dehydrated buttermilk is widely available in a powder that is used in baking.
If you do have excess buttermilk, freeze it in 1/4 cup amounts and thaw when using for baked goods. The consistency changes to grainy when frozen, which is fine for baking, not for drinking.
What to use when you have no buttermilk?
1. For every 1 cup of buttermilk needed - mix 1 T white vinegar with enough milk to fill a cup. Stir and let stand 5 minutes until thickened.
2. Mix 2/3 cup plain yogurt (non-fat or plain) with 1/2 cup milk to make 1 cup of buttermilk.
3. Add 2 T cream of tartar with a scant cup of milk. Stir.
4. Mix 1 T lemon juice with enough milk to form 1 cup. Stir and let stand until thick.
Why drink buttermilk?
Irish folklore believes that drinking a glass of buttermilk will cure a hangover. A garlic clove heated in a cup of buttermilk was used as a medicine to treat digestive ailments. Pioneers believed it boosted one's immunity to poison ivy.
Buttermilk is high in potassium, phosphorus, calcium, riboflavin and vitamin B12. It is higher in lactic acid than milk and is more easily digested as well.
Indians drink spiced cool buttermilk, said to aid digestion. The buttermilk is infused with ginger, chilis and coriander and is served at the end of the meal as a refreshing accompaniment.
If you don't like the flavor of drinking buttermilk, you can add 2 T to a baked potato instead of sour cream. You can mix it with spices to make Ranch Salad Dressing.
Buttermilk as a Marinade?
Buttermilk is a fantastic marinade for beef and poultry. The acid in the buttermilk tenderizes the meat.
Is buttermilk a beauty product?
Yes! Buttermilk is slathered on skin to counteract sunburn and even acne! It is applied morning and night, massaged into skin and rinsed away.