Reader Brian writes:
I really dislike buying a quart and throwing half away after baking biscuits, etc so I started using the dried buttermilk. I’ve had good luck with it. Have I just been lucky or is this a good substitution in most (all?) situations.
Hey Brian! That’s a great question because it’s a common problem. Many of us buy a quart of buttermilk, use a cup of it to make a batch of biscuits or some such thing, then watch helplessly as it (further) spoils over a period of several weeks. Finally, fearing to open the CO2-bloated jug for fear of what we might find in there, we just pitch the thing into the trash and hustle it to the curb before our spouse discovers we’ve failed, again, to properly recycle.
How to avoid this sad, guilty fate? Buttermilk powder is an excellent alternative and yes, it can indeed be used (with water) as a replacement wherever buttermilk is called for. That said there are many other simpler substitutes for buttermilk. Today commercial buttermilk is made by culturing milk (the real thing is made this way). “Culturing” simply means allowing bacteria to reproduce and create acid, which is the source of buttermilk’s tang as well as its baking soda-activating abilities. Can an equivalent be achieved by simply combining milk with acid?
Yep it sure can. To create a cup of “buttermilk” substitute one tablespoon of plain white vinegar or fresh lemon juice for one tablespoon of the milk. Or add 1 3/4 teaspoons cream of tartar. Or just skip the mixing altogether and use another form of soured dairy instead: yogurt or even sour cream if you don’t mind a little extra fat in the mix. If thickness is an issue, you can thin the stuff with a little milk. So there are all sorts of options, Brian, even though buttermilk in powdered form pretty darn cool!