As we all know, buttermilk is an indispensable ingredient in many baked food products. It offers a unique flavor to cakes, cookies, and biscuits. Most people do not store buttermilk, as it is not a part of the daily diet. So, every time you plan to prepare some dish with buttermilk, you either have to get it beforehand or rush to the supermarket. Some people prefer homemade buttermilk to store-bought ones. In that case, you have to plan accordingly and prepare it beforehand. However, if you are in a hurry and don't have the time to buy buttermilk or make it at home, then you can always try some substitute for it.
In order to make a cup of buttermilk, you need one cup of milk (preferably whole milk) and one tablespoon of lemon juice or white vinegar. Add lemon juice or vinegar to the milk and mix well with a spoon. If you are using lemon juice, make sure to sieve it, so as to remove the seeds and pulp. (You can even use lemon juice concentrate.) Wait for five to ten minutes. The lemon juice/vinegar will curdle the milk that can be used as a buttermilk substitute.
You can make a substitute for buttermilk, by adding 1¾ teaspoons of cream of tartar to a cup of plain milk. Mix them well and keep aside for ten minutes. You can use the curdled solution as a replacement for buttermilk. Nowadays, buttermilk powder is also available, which has to be mixed with sufficient water to make instant buttermilk.
You may replace buttermilk with yogurt too. All you have to do is to check the amount of buttermilk needed for the recipe and replace it with the same amount of yogurt. But only plain yogurt will serve the purpose and not the flavored ones, which can spoil the flavor of the dish. Some people use plain milk as an alternative to buttermilk.
Another buttermilk substitute can be prepared by adding equal amounts of milk and yogurt. If you need one cup of buttermilk, you have to take ½ cup yogurt and ½ cup plain milk. Mix well and use the solution, once it curdles. You may also use sour cream (mixed with 2 to 3 tablespoons of milk) as a substitute for buttermilk.
You may use any of the above said methods to prepare a substitute for buttermilk. Use the one that is best suited for your recipe. The substitute must not alter the flavor of the dish. Another fact is that substitutes may not be as effective as real buttermilk in producing the tangy flavor in your dish. These substitutes can offer you with an instant solution, if you are in a hurry. However, it is always better to go for homemade buttermilk or even the store-bought ones. You can store the remaining buttermilk (after using for the recipe) by freezing it in ice-cube trays. But measure it before pouring it into each cube of the ice-cube tray, as this will help you determine the amount of liquid buttermilk, the next time you use it in the form of cubes. Or else, the remaining buttermilk can also be served as a delicious drink with low-fat content.
How to Make Buttermilk at Home
Even though the traditional form of buttermilk is the liquid left behind after churning butter from cream, nowadays, it is made through artificial fermentation of fresh milk. You have to get some plain milk and fresh buttermilk (with active cultures). Take a clean quart jar and add six to eight ounces of the active cultured buttermilk to it. Now fill the jar up to the rim level with fresh plain milk.
Mix it well and close the lid tightly. It will take around 24 hours for the milk to curdle and thicken to form buttermilk. You may keep the jar in a warm part of the room for fast results. Refrigerate it immediately as it forms.
In short, buttermilk substitutes are ideal when you don't have enough time to buy it or make it at home. You may go for any of the above said replacements for buttermilk, as per the requirements of the recipe.