Buttermilk is the milk-like byproduct that comes from butter-making. It is consumed by cultures around the world. The milk or cream for buttermilk comes from the milk of camels, cows, horses, goats, sheep and water buffalo. It is produced commercially and can also be made at home.
Fresh milk or cream can be called sweet milk. When sweet milk is used to make butter, the buttermilk obtained is called sweet cream buttermilk.
Old-fashioned buttermilk is a byproduct of the butter-making process. When making butter, milk or cream is churned, resulting in the milk fat separating from the liquid. The fat forms globules that stick together to form butter. The leftover liquid is the buttermilk.
When this buttermilk is set aside, natural bacteria in the air can enter it and turn it sour, forming a second type of old-fashioned buttermilk. This second type is called sour cream buttermilk.
Cultured buttermilk can be made during the process of making cultured butter from pasteurized milk or cream. It is called cultured because a selection of bacteria is added to create flavor in the butter and the buttermilk.
Cultured buttermilk can also be made from adding a bacterial culture to milk or cream. This is set in a warm area to thicken.
Powdered buttermilk is made from cultured buttermilk that is dehydrated. By adding water, it can be used as an ingredient in cooking.
Chemistry or Microbiology
Fermentation of milk to change it into buttermilk is the process of a chemical breakdown of the milk sugar by bacteria. The bacteria added to the milk chemically changes the lactose (sugar in milk consisting of glucose and galactose) to pyruvate (contains pyruvic acid). During this process, the pyruvic acid is changed into lactic acid. The created acid environment is a poor growing medium for bacteria, and it slows the decaying process.
To make cultured buttermilk using the fermentation process, bacteria called Streptococcus lactis are added to the milk. Leuconostoc citrovorum bacteria are added to give the buttermilk the smell and flavor it is known for.
Buttermilk's thickness occurs when the pH of the milk or cream changes, due to the bacteria, to an acid. When this occurs the casein, a protein in the milk or cream, changes from being dissolved to separating out of the liquid. The remaining liquid is thus thickened.
History of Ranch Dressing
Ever wonder where the famous, ever-loved Ranch salad dressing originated? Are you curious as to how it got the name Ranch to...
How to Make Real Homemade Cultured Buttermilk
What is buttermilk? Well, in colonial America, and even later, buttermilk was what was left over after making butter. It was different...
How to Make Buttermilk for Baking
Buttermilk is used in many recipes, such as pancakes and biscuits. In some areas, buttermilk is difficult to find or is sold...
How to Tell If Buttermilk Is Spoiled
Buttermilk is a milk product that has been intentionally fermented. Milk is introduced to a starter bacteria that makes the milk ferment,...
Uses of Bacteria in Yogurt
Bacteria turns milk into yogurt through fermentation. The live bacteria in yogurt, in turn, provide benefits to the people who eat it....
Bacteria Used to Make Cheese
Cheeses get their variety of tastes, smells and textures, in part, from different kinds of bacteria. Bacteria helps develop the acidity necessary...