How to Fake Your Own Buttermilk (a cheat)

Mom with a PREP | Darn! You wanted to make buttermilk pancakes this morning, but you are out. Nothing can replace the real taste of buttermilk, but to get the chemical workings of buttermilk - there is a way to FAKE your own buttermilk!Buttermilk is one of those things I bake with a lot, but NEVER stock. We’re not fans of drinking it straight (heck, I’m not a fan of ANY milk straight unless it has copious amounts of some kind of Ovaltine). When I remember to put it on the grocery list, I get a container a little too big for my need and always have leftovers. But the more likely scenarios is that I don’t have it on my shopping list, don’t pick it up, and then of course have 2 or 3 things I want to do in a week that really do require it.

Traditionally, buttermilk is the milk leftover after whole milk has been made into butter, but commercially it’s more often made by adding active buttermilk cultures to whole milk much like the yogurt process.  It’s twangier and thicker than regular milk, thus it’s what makes buttermilk biscuits and buttermilk pancakes taste so special. But if you’re like me, you don’t have it in stock whenever you need it so I wanted to share a few tips I’ve learned along the way in order to have buttermilk when I need it.

Buttermilk Tips

  • Put it on your shopping list. Seriously…my life would be easier if I’d just remember to do this part!
  • Freeze the leftovers. You can freeze buttermilk! Just pour 1/2 C – 1 C servings into a freezer zip top bag, freeze flat, then stack as you have space. When you’re in need, just pull it out to allow it to thaw. Just remember to pull it out ahead of time.
  • Use 1 TB of vinegar or lemon juice to help ‘sour’  your milk. Put 1 TB of either into your measuring cup for each cup of buttermilk that you need. Then fill up to your cup line with milk, and let it stand on the counter for at least five minutes, but fifteen is better. You’ll begin to see the milk ‘curdle’ or sour, mimicking buttermilk’s texture and flavor. This works best with whole milk.
  • Mix 1 3/4 tsp of cream of tartar to each cup of whole milk, mixing, and leaving it on the counter for 5-15 min.
  • Mix plain milk with plain yogurt in equal amounts. If you need a cup of buttermilk, do  1/2 C of milk mixed with 1/2 C of plain yogurt.
  • Use plain yogurt in full measurement.
  • Use sour cream in full measurement.
  • Use powdered buttermilk. This product is like dry milk and can be easily stored in your pantry and reconstituted as needed.

I hope in the next buttermilk emergency, these tips help you recover quickly without the trip to the grocery store!


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Katy Willis is a writer, lifelong homesteader, and master herbalist, master gardener, and canine nutritionist. Katy is a preparedness expert and modern homesteader practicing everyday preparedness, sustainability, and a holistic lifestyle.

She knows how important it is to be prepared for whatever life throws at you, because you just never know what's coming. And preparedness helps you give your family the best chance to thrive in any situation.

Katy is passionate about living naturally, growing food, keeping livestock, foraging, and making and using herbal remedies. Katy is an experienced herbalist and a member of the CMA (Complementary Medical Association).

Her preparedness skills go beyond just being "ready", she's ready to survive the initial disaster, and thrive afterward, too. She grows 100% organic food on roughly 15 acres and raises goats, chickens, and ducks. She also lovingly tends her orchard, where she grows many different fruit trees. And, because she likes to know exactly what she's feeding her family, she's a seasoned from-scratch cook and gluten-free baker.

Katy teaches foraging and environmental education classes, too, including self-sufficient living, modern homesteading, seed saving, and organic vegetable gardening.

Katy helps others learn forgotten skills, including basic survival skills and self-reliance.

She's been published on sites such as MSN, Angi, Home Advisor, Family Handyman, Wealth of Geeks, Readers Digest, and more.

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