What are the benefits of cultured buttermilk

What is the benefit of using buttermilk in baking?

In the past, milk would build up in the jug until there was enough to make butter. The milk would ferment naturally. Both the butter and the watery buttermilk took on the sour, fermented taste.

Modern buttermilk is different. It is low-fat milk that has been cultured and fermented. It's thicker and creamier, but has a similar sour taste. (I was told I had never tried historically fermented buttermilk.)

Therefore, historical recipes will not be the same as modern recipes that require buttermilk.

The "buttermilk" left in your homemade butter would not be fermented and would not be similar to ancient or modern buttermilk. It has a good amount of sugar and protein and of course water that would affect your recipe.

In modern recipes, buttermilk is used to lower the pH, add a tangy flavor, and a creamier texture than milk. The fat added is usually not a factor. Creamy buttermilk can be made with skimmed milk.

As dlb pointed out in a comment, the creaminess and acidity allow chemically risen baked goods with the same liquid and fat content as regular milk to become fluffier.

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Hello @Sobachatina. Thank you for your historical insight. Is it a normal protocol to add lemon to buttermilk these days when used in a sourdough reaction with baking soda? Because I made some batter with the homemade buttermilk - flour, baking powder, salt. Wasn't really interesting. Didn't smell good either.


Lemon is added to the milk to sour and thicken it to quickly replace buttermilk. Real buttermilk has a much more interesting taste. Lemon doesn't need to be added to real buttermilk - it's already plenty sour to react with chemical leaven.

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Can I clarify: Homemade, fresh buttermilk made from whipped cream has enough acidity? Because I tried my product and it was anything but sour. It was like skimmed milk.


Ah yes. What you had was skimmed milk, in fact. They forced the milk fat to grow together and removed it. You're right. If you want to use this as buttermilk, you'll need to acidify it. I would recommend adding some store-bought buttermilk and letting it sit at room temperature for a day. It'll be creamier and a lot tastier than just adding lemon juice.