Buttermilk is a key ingredient in many baked goods and breakfast foods. While it adds great texture and taste, people do not use buttermilk on a regular basis. Those who do buy buttermilk usually only use a small quantity at a time, and buttermilk can expire in the refrigerator before it is needed next. To keep from buying buttermilk every time you need it, you can quickly and easily replace the buttermilk in your recipes by using several alternatives.
Buttermilk has a tangy flavor, but there is a buttery hint in it as well. This butter taste comes from the original process of making buttermilk. Decades ago, when butter was churned by hand, there was liquid left over at the end of the churning process. The liquid was named “buttermilk,” but it actually contained less butterfat that regular butter. As a result, buttermilk is healthier than butter or sour cream. Today, makers add lactic acid bacteria to low-fat or nonfat milk to produce buttermilk. However, it is still healthier than other dairy products, and it retains much of that butter taste.
Buttermilk can be reconstructed in a pinch by using common ingredients such as lemon juice or vinegar. For 1 cup of buttermilk, pour 1 Tbsp. of vinegar or cider vinegar in a measuring cup and add enough milk to make one cup. Let this sit for 15 minutes, or until the milk turns. Another option uses 1 Tbsp. of lemon juice and enough milk to make one cup. Cream of tartar can also substitute for buttermilk. Add 1 ¾ Tbsp. of cream of tartar to 1 cup of milk. These substitutions can work well for breads, pancakes, waffles and salad dressings.
Although the taste of the product can be affected, sour cream or yogurt can be used to replace buttermilk. For every cup of buttermilk, use 1 cup of plain yogurt or low-fat sour cream. In bread recipes, the result is a creamier and smoother texture. For more variety and different flavors in sweet breads or pancakes, use varied flavors of yogurt. Strawberry, blueberry and vanilla yogurt could all be used as direct substitutes. However, reduce the total sugar added to the recipe, as flavored yogurts contain more sugar than buttermilk.
Buttermilk powder is also available at most supermarkets. To use, combine ¼ cup of powder with 1 cup of water. After opening, store the buttermilk powder in the refrigerator.