This is a smooth, refreshing drink that’s really good for you, with lots of live, active culture. It’s also the basis of sour cream and quark, a soft cottage-cheese-like cheese popular in Germany. I'll post instructions for those separately.
Meantime, forgot any associations you might have with the nasty, salty, thin, tart taste of the storebought stuff. And get ready for a wholesome, luscious treat.
We started our buttermilk with powdered culture that we bought from New England Cheesemaking Supply Company (cheesemaking.com). The package specified that the buttermilk produced from the powder could not be used to keep the buttermilk going batch after batch, but we've had ours going since 2006! It just keeps getting better and better.
You can also get your buttermilk started with a carton of ordinary supermarket buttermilk. We've recently experimented with it. It didn't taste nearly as good. But it's a start!
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 quarts whole milk
Combine in a jar. Glass is best. Let set at room temperature for 6-12 hours, until clabbered. Refrigerate. Use within (I guess) two or three weeks.
Do not use more buttermilk than the above ratio. If you use more than 1/4 cup, the texture becomes grainy. If you use more than 1/2 cup, the flavor becomes harsh and sour.
To shave a couple of hours off the waiting time: set the jar of milk upright a sink full of hot water until the milk has come to about room temperature. This should take ten minutes or so.
To find out when the buttermilk is ready to refrigerate, shake the jar. A few minutes later, check to see if stripes have formed running down the glass. If so, it’s clabbered. It doesn’t have to be thick at this stage. It’ll thicken later, in the refrigerator.
Be sure to save 1/4 cup of buttermilk so you can keep the culture going!