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Spreenkle #4

It’s snowing big fluffy rabbits here today. Went to bed with rain pouring thunderously on our roof so loud we could barely hear one another, but woke to 5 inches of pristine white silence covering our patio. So, out of exhilarated appreciation for the quiet beauty of this day, I’m keeping it white.

Have you ever enjoyed buttermilk, freshly bottled from a local dairy? When I was girl, my grandfather (we called him Big Papa and he was indeed bigger than life in many ways) had a dairy farm on the coast in Washington state. Sweet-faced Jersey cows, each one with a name, would line up in the milking barn twice a day. One of these days I’ll share some stories of what life on that farm was like. It was so much MORE than a dairy farm, but I don’t want to give it all away in a little Spreenkle. I remember though, on the tile counter of the old farm house, sat bottles of milk, their skinny necks filled with the sweet cream that had risen. And I remember too the taste of fresh buttermilk our grandma would make.  And occasionally a treat. A milkshake maker, the color green of the day, with its cloth-covered cord and its dented steel container would be pulled from its cupboard and set on the counter. Into it went fresh, chilled whole-buttermilk and orange sherbet. Whirrrr! Pour! Straw! Slurp! Pure deliciousness!

It’s not easy to find a truly wonderful buttermilk in our markets. But we can Make it! And it’ll be wonderful. I’m not talking here about the “trick” of adding vinegar or lemon juice to milk to simulate the real thing when we’ve run out.

Buttermilk is a cultured product, much like yogurt, with active beneficial bacteria grown in it. If we use a store-bought cultured buttermilk as a starter, we can feed it good fresh milk, leave it on the counter for 24 to 36 hours and have a creamy delicious buttermilk for baking or making fruity smoothies with. Here’s how:

Home-made Buttermilk

Sterilize a mason jar or glass milk bottle (or simply wash it very well with hot soapy water).

Combine ½ cup buttermilk, ¼teaspoon kosher salt, 2 cups of milk (whole milk of course is quite wonderful).  Stir well. Pour into glass container, cover,  and leave on the counter in a warm room for 24 to 36 hours. When done, the buttermilk will have thickened and will coat the sides of the jar when tipped.

~ ~ ~

Proportions are always the same (4 : 1, milk to buttermilk – so make as much or as little as you like at a time. Don’t forget to add the appropriate amount of salt.) It will keep refrigerated for 2 weeks at least. The bacteria in old buttermilk isn’t as active, and can even die in time, so using a fresher starter will result in a new batch in less time.

~ ~ ~

Stay tuned for a thoroughly delicious dish (or 2) using freshly made buttermilk. Naturally.

36 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oh isn’t it glorious and privileged to have such memories as these, just beautiful 🙂

    March 13, 2012
  2. Fabulous! It always drives me nuts to buy buttermilk for use in a recipe only to use a portion but only have a little left over..what a very useful post this is Spree! Thanks – and the snow sounds lovely, what a lovely story!

    March 13, 2012
    • ahh, I’m happy you liked it Shira! Thank you.

      March 13, 2012
  3. Three (hushed) cheers for big fluffy rabbits, quiet, and homemade buttermilk. Please do tell some more farm stories soon. 🙂

    March 13, 2012
    • Yes three hushed cheers for the white! And okay, since you asked… 🙂

      March 13, 2012
  4. Snow and happy memories. Beautiful !

    March 13, 2012
    • Claire, doesn’t get much better than happy memories and new-fallen snow does it? 🙂

      March 13, 2012
  5. You mention buttermilk and cooking in the same sentence and I immediately think of fresh baked biscuits smelling heavenly in the oven.

    Ronnie

    March 13, 2012
    • Me too Ronnie, but that’s only the beginning!

      March 13, 2012
  6. Snow?!?!? Oh, please not here! It’s 70˚ here today and the last recorded snow was May 4th.

    I’m looking forward to your dairy farm posts, Spree. I’m definitely interested. I’ve seen recipes for buttermilk but never have enough reason to use t. As it is, I fill ice cube trays and freeze it for my cheese making needs. Should my needs change, I certainly know where to come to find the recipe. Thanks!

    And “Spreenkle” still makes me smile! 🙂

    March 13, 2012
    • Hopefully these clouds heading your way will have dropped their load long before they get to you! It was actually a beautiful surprise to see our world covered in white this morning. It’s already nearly gone though.
      70 degrees there John? Oh that would feel so lovely! Are you wearing bare feet yet? 🙂
      I know – you think buttermilk’s all about baking don’t you (or cheese-making) – but I have something else in mind. 🙂

      March 13, 2012
  7. What a sweet story and lovely memories. Excited to see your buttermilk recipes! I am sure we are in for some wonderful things!

    March 13, 2012
    • Well thanks for the vote of confidence! I hope not to disappoint! 🙂

      March 13, 2012
  8. Rabbits fall out of the sky there. You lucky dog… oh wait.

    March 13, 2012
    • Heehee! Yes, so while that’s going on, we have to keep the dogs in.

      March 13, 2012
  9. Your recipe says 1/4 kosher salt. Would that be 1/4 tsp kosher salt? I didn’t know you could make buttermilk like this.

    March 13, 2012
    • im sorry. I had already noticed this and corrected it, but the first copy went out without the teaspoon.

      March 13, 2012
  10. Oh… I’m imagining creamy white images of snow and buttermilk on farms.. I love your dairy images and could just imagine the thick buttermilk filled canning jar sitting on a pretty formica table (I know it probably wasn’t but that’s what I imagined).. gingham curtains.. I guess I should stop rambling on.. but I really loved the feel of this post. I can’t wait to hear your farm stories, it’s so cool to find out these new spreenkles about you:)

    March 13, 2012
    • I love your imagination. The old farmhouse kitchen wasn’t exactly as you described it, but I like your version nearly as well. 🙂 And thanks for the encouragement to tell story! Sweet of you!

      March 14, 2012
  11. Oh my! My son deleted half the reply just before I clicked submit 😦
    It said..I look forward to your farm memories,and to your fresh buttermilk recipes..I finally found some cultured butter milkand I look forward to trying your recipe and John’s cheese recipes. Please delete the first “half” comment 🙂

    March 13, 2012
  12. At last I know what buttermilk is! Another mystery resolved – thanks.

    March 13, 2012
  13. Hey,
    I have nominated your blog for the Versatile Blogger Award.. 🙂

    March 14, 2012
    • Sara, you are so very sweet! Thank you so much for this! Some time last Fall I was nominated for this award and posted all my responses and referrals at that time. I couldn’t put my readers through that again 🙂 but I’m truly grateful that you like what you see here enough to have recommended me!!

      March 14, 2012
  14. carolyn #

    I’m ready to be put through it! You fully deserve it! Come on!

    My dad loves to tell buttermilk stories. I want to get some organic buttermilk and whole milk, follow your recipe, and surprise him with a chilled glass of fluffy white rabbits! Thanks for the idea!

    March 14, 2012
  15. carolyn #

    ps…please, more farm stories, ms spreenkle!

    March 14, 2012
  16. carolyn #

    pss…i really really trust your blog.

    March 14, 2012
  17. Thank you for this!

    March 14, 2012
  18. deb #

    The imagery of the buttermilk in the glass milk bottles makes my mouth water for some homemade buttermilk, in the blender (wish it was green) with the orange sherbet naturally! I, too, cannot wait for more farm stories . . . and recipes made with buttermilk 🙂

    March 14, 2012
  19. Val #

    Great tip Spree! How long will it keep? The snow sounds lovely.

    March 15, 2012
    • Snow was lovely! Mostly gone in a day. Buttermilk luckily will last for 2 weeks if you let it. (or get a new batch going with what’s left of it.)

      March 15, 2012
      • Val #

        Perpetual buttermilk… I like it!

        March 15, 2012
  20. You made me smile today 🙂
    Great memories… I bet that the homemade buttermilk taste delicious!

    March 15, 2012
  21. This is pure poetry, my sweet! From the beautiful snowy morning’s inspiration, you have magically conjured a lyrical memoir from Big Papa’s farm and the concomitant joys of marvelous milk, cream, buttermilk and that lovely sounding orangey-delight milkshake!! I am filled with sighing over a history I never even had, you make it so present for me. Thank you!
    xoxo!
    Kathryn

    March 15, 2012
  22. Lovely memories and looking forward to hearing more. Home made buttermilk…fabulous!

    March 16, 2012
  23. Beautiful. How wonderful to wake to that white silence… and to have those lovely memories.

    March 16, 2012

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