How to Culture Buttermilk How to Culture Buttermilk dishes of solid milk crumbles

How to Make Homemade Cultured Buttermilk?

Learn how to make cultured buttermilk or whole milk! It’s great for using in your baking recipes or as a culture in cheese making.

Welcome to another “Milk Mustache Monday” where I share how I’m desperately trying to keep up with all the milk accumulating in the fridge now that we have a family cow. Granted, my dear children are doing their level best to spill as much as humanly possible- even the baby who has taken to trying to kick her Daddy’s milk over since she sits in front of him in the center of the table. But alas, it continues to accumulate nevertheless. Praise the Lord for the abundance!! Today we’re learning how to make cultured buttermilk!

How to Make Cultured Buttermilk

What is Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a dairy product that is low in fat and contains a tangy, slightly sour taste. Traditionally, it was the liquid left over after churning butter from cream. Nowadays, it is usually made by adding lactic acid bacteria to milk, which causes it to ferment and thicken. This process creates a tangy flavor and a thicker consistency than regular milk. Buttermilk is often used in baking to react with baking soda and create a rise in baked goods. It is also commonly used in marinades for meats or as a refreshing drink on its own.

Homemade buttermilk is even easier than making yogurt which is pretty darn simple. And it is a real blessing to the household economy because if you keep your culture going it is so much more frugal than buying buttermilk from the store.

You basically have three options for making homemade buttermilk.
1.) Make Cultured Butter and then your buttermilk is already cultured.
2.) Make Sweet Cream Butter and then culture the buttermilk.
3.) Add buttermilk culture to whole milk.

Obviously, the first option is the easiest. The work is done and the buttermilk is already cultured. But if you’re like us, we really don’t care for the taste of cultured butter. Or sometimes you need a higher yield than you’ll get from true buttermilk which makes using a buttermilk culture in whole milk a great option. Is it real buttermilk? No. But it ends up tasting just the same.

Ready for this recipe? Are you sure? It’s so super difficult and I don’t want to be held responsible for any injuries sustained in the making of this recipe. I don’t know if it will work with pasteurized milk without purchasing a culture. I’ve never tried or been interested in doing so since I can buy pasteurized cultured buttermilk even more easily than I could make it simply by taking two steps beyond the gallon milk jugs, reaching to the top shelf (not always easy when I’m 5’0″ on a good day), grasp the carton, pivot, and place in the cart.

How to Make Buttermilk

Recipe One Using Cultured Buttermilk from the Store

  • Get a jar of raw milk from the refrigerator. A pint will suffice unless you’d like to make a mesophilic starter for cheese making, then I’d use an entire half gallon.
  • Add ½ cup of cultured buttermilk per quart of plain buttermilk or raw milk.
  • Shake it very thoroughly and then set it in a warm place.
  • Wait 24 hours. By now it should be thickened to about the consistency of yogurt. If not, wait until it is. It could take another day or two. (If it doesn’t thicken up in 24 hours try increasing the ratio of cultured buttermilk next time.)

Recipe Two Using a Buttermilk Culture Packet

(Buy Buttermilk Culture Powder Here)

  • Warm your raw milk or buttermilk to about 86 degrees. Sprinkle the contents of the culture packet into the warm milk.
  • Allow it to sit and rehydrate for a couple minutes and then stir it in well.
  • Wrap the pot (or you could transfer them to jars first) in a fleece blanket and allow it to set up for about a day until it has thickened.

When you’re running low on cultured buttermilk, just be sure to reserve that ½ cup of buttermilk from the previous batch to add to your next one, and then just repeat steps four and five! Enjoy it with your biscuit!

13 Scratch Made Recipes Featuring Cultured Buttermilk

Suggested Read: Sweet Cream Butter Recipe

Homemade Buttermilk FAQs

How long does buttermilk last?

If you make your own buttermilk using cultured milk, it can last up to two weeks in the fridge. Homemade buttermilk made with fresh milk, on the other hand, will have a shorter shelf life and may only last a few days.
If you’re unsure if your buttermilk is still good to use, give it a quick sniff and taste. If it has a sour smell and taste, it’s probably gone bad and should be discarded.

Does buttermilk go bad?

Yes, buttermilk can go bad if it is not stored properly or if it is past its expiration date. Signs that buttermilk has gone bad include a sour smell, a lumpy or curdled texture, or a change in color. If you notice any of these signs, it is best to discard the buttermilk and not consume it.

Is buttermilk good for you?

Buttermilk can be a healthy addition to your diet in moderation. It is low in fat and calories and is a good source of calcium, protein, and other essential nutrients. Buttermilk also contains beneficial probiotics that can help promote gut health and boost the immune system. However, as with all dairy products, it’s important to consume it in moderation and according to your dietary needs and restrictions.

What’s your favorite way to use buttermilk?

Try making your own Sour Cream.

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  1. How do you make cultured butter?

    In my area (Pakistan) we add 01tablespoon of yougurt to 500gm of cream-fat (“malaayi”) collected from boiled-and-cooled milk (not ultra-pasteurised). After 12-18hours, the ‘cultured’ cream-fat is churned to produce butter and butterrmilk.

    Can this qualify as ‘cultured’ butter and buttermilk for use in cheese-making?

    1. Hello Sadia. I’m not familiar with that process, but it sounds like something I will have to try sometime. It does, however, sound like that would qualify as cultured butter and buttermilk as it would have the cultures from the yogurt.

  2. so.. what you’re saying is to make you’re own cultured buttermilk, first buy “cultured buttermilk” and add it to your other milk. I started reading your blog as i wanted to create my own mesophillic culture and i was intrigued when you said i didn’t have to buy store bought cultures. however, according to the instructions for cultured buttermilk, i first have to buy cultured buttermilk from the store.. or am i missing something here?

    1. You need to have cultures from somewhere. There are two options. You start with some cultured butter milk to add to milk, which adds cultures to the new milk. Or you can take the milk and add buttermilk cultures that you have bought. If you know someone who makes their own cultured buttermilk, you can get some from them to start your own. You just need to get buttermilk cultures for your milk somehow. I hope this helps.

  3. I’ve been making buttermilk for years. I always save back 1/2 cup of my previous batch (you can start w/ store-bought buttermilk). Put this in an empty quart jar and fill the remainder with milk. Stir with a spoon. I’m careful not to get buttermilk up the inside edges of the rim, since it seems to quickly sour there, making your buttermilk go bad. Cover with a small 1/4 sheet of paper towel with a screw-on canning ring. Something about the buttermilk “breathing” helps it culture better. Set on the counter for 24 hours, or until clabbered. It’s so simple, and you never need to buy buttermilk again!!!

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Bless you for this recipe, and now that I have made my very own first time cultured buttermilk, how much culture do I use to make a gallon of milk into queso fresco?

  5. Hi Quinn. I have twice tried without much success to make Farmhouse Cheddar cheese using raw buffalo milk. I followed cheese making instructions that was available online.

    The problem is that the cheese after drying for 3/4 days becomes very dry and crumbly and tastes quite sour. I used 2 gallons milk, 1/4th tsp mesophilic culture,1/4th tsp liquid vegetable rennet and 2 tbsp ground rock salt .

    I let the milk ripen for 1 hour after adding mesophilic culture, then added the rennet and waited 45 minutes till I got a clean break. Then I cut the curds and waited for 5 minutes before bringing up the temperature to 100 deg. F. and maintained the temperature for a further 30 minutes. Then I drained the whey for 30 minutes and put the curds into a cheese press. I pressed the curds for 15 minutes using 10 pounds of weight and then flipped the cheese and increased the weight to 20 pounds for 12 hours. The cheese at that point was well set and the color had changed to a nice yellow . I then let the cheese dry in the fridge for 4/5 days. After the cheese was well dried, I cut a small piece to check its taste and texture, I found it was very dry/crumbly and sour. What am I doing wrong? can you please help?

    1. I don’t want to say for sure, yes or no, but I think it might depend on how hot your yogurt was cultured. I add mine to the milk at 110-120 so it’s definitely thermophilic so I’ve never tried. If you have a low temp culturing yogurt, it’s worth a shot.

  6. I have mesophilic starter in powder form and add a little to some raw milk to make buttermilk. Can I use this buttermilk for the mesophilic starter culture in the recipe for Farmer’s cheese?

  7. My Mom used to take 4 cups raw milk & add 1/4 of white vinegar and let it sit for half hour.