Buttermilk
Overview
 
Buttermilk refers to a number of dairy drinks. Originally, buttermilk was the liquid left behind after churning butter
Butter
Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying...

 out of cream
Cream
Cream is a dairy product that is composed of the higher-butterfat layer skimmed from the top of milk before homogenization. In un-homogenized milk, over time, the lighter fat rises to the top. In the industrial production of cream this process is accelerated by using centrifuges called "separators"...

. It also refers to a range of fermented milk drinks, common in warm climates (e.g., Middle East, Pakistan, India, and the Southern United States) where unrefrigerated fresh milk otherwise sours quickly. It is also popular in Germany, Scandinavia and the Netherlands, despite the colder climates.

Buttermilk can also refer to a fermented dairy product produced from cow's milk, with a characteristically sour taste caused by lactic acid bacteria.
Encyclopedia
Buttermilk refers to a number of dairy drinks. Originally, buttermilk was the liquid left behind after churning butter
Butter
Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying...

 out of cream
Cream
Cream is a dairy product that is composed of the higher-butterfat layer skimmed from the top of milk before homogenization. In un-homogenized milk, over time, the lighter fat rises to the top. In the industrial production of cream this process is accelerated by using centrifuges called "separators"...

. It also refers to a range of fermented milk drinks, common in warm climates (e.g., Middle East, Pakistan, India, and the Southern United States) where unrefrigerated fresh milk otherwise sours quickly. It is also popular in Germany, Scandinavia and the Netherlands, despite the colder climates.

Buttermilk can also refer to a fermented dairy product produced from cow's milk, with a characteristically sour taste caused by lactic acid bacteria. This variant is made in one of two ways:cultured buttermilk is made by adding lactic acid bacteria
Lactic acid bacteria
The lactic acid bacteria comprise a clade of Gram-positive, low-GC, acid-tolerant, generally non-sporulating, non-respiring rod or cocci that are associated by their common metabolic and physiological characteristics. These bacteria, usually found in decomposing plants and lactic products, produce...

 (Streptococcus lactis) to milk; Bulgarian buttermilk is created with a different strain of bacteria called Lactobacillus bulgaricus
Lactobacillus bulgaricus
Lactobacillus delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus is one of several bacteria used for the production of yogurt. It is also found in other naturally fermented products...

, which creates more tartness.

Whether traditional or cultured, the tartness of buttermilk is due to acid in the milk. The increased acidity is primarily due to lactic acid
Lactic acid
Lactic acid, also known as milk acid, is a chemical compound that plays a role in various biochemical processes and was first isolated in 1780 by the Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele. Lactic acid is a carboxylic acid with the chemical formula C3H6O3...

, a byproduct naturally produced by lactic acid bacteria while fermenting
Fermentation (biochemistry)
Fermentation is the process of extracting energy from the oxidation of organic compounds, such as carbohydrates, using an endogenous electron acceptor, which is usually an organic compound. In contrast, respiration is where electrons are donated to an exogenous electron acceptor, such as oxygen,...

 lactose
Lactose
Lactose is a disaccharide sugar that is found most notably in milk and is formed from galactose and glucose. Lactose makes up around 2~8% of milk , although the amount varies among species and individuals. It is extracted from sweet or sour whey. The name comes from or , the Latin word for milk,...

, the primary sugar in milk. As the bacteria produces lactic acid, the pH
PH
In chemistry, pH is a measure of the acidity or basicity of an aqueous solution. Pure water is said to be neutral, with a pH close to 7.0 at . Solutions with a pH less than 7 are said to be acidic and solutions with a pH greater than 7 are basic or alkaline...

 of the milk decreases and casein
Casein
Casein is the name for a family of related phosphoprotein proteins . These proteins are commonly found in mammalian milk, making up 80% of the proteins in cow milk and between 60% and 65% of the proteins in human milk....

, the primary milk protein, precipitates, causing the curdling
Curdling
In cookery, curdling is the breaking of an emulsion or colloid into large parts of different composition through the physico-chemical processes of flocculation, creaming, and coalescence...

 or clabbering
Clabber (food)
Clabber is a food produced by allowing unpasteurized milk to turn sour at a specific humidity and temperature. Over time, the milk thickens or curdles into a yoghurt-like substance with a strong, sour flavor. In rural areas of the Southern United States, it was commonly eaten for breakfast with...

 of milk. This process makes buttermilk thicker than plain milk. While both traditional and cultured buttermilk contain lactic acid, traditional buttermilk tends to be less viscous, whereas cultured buttermilk is more viscous.

Traditional buttermilk

Originally, buttermilk was the liquid left over from churning
Churning (butter)
Churning is the process of shaking up whole milk to make butter, and various forms of butter churn have been used for the purpose. In Europe from the Middle Ages until the Industrial Revolution, this was generally as simple as a barrel with a plunger in it, which was moved by hand...

 butter
Butter
Butter is a dairy product made by churning fresh or fermented cream or milk. It is generally used as a spread and a condiment, as well as in cooking applications, such as baking, sauce making, and pan frying...

 from cream
Cream
Cream is a dairy product that is composed of the higher-butterfat layer skimmed from the top of milk before homogenization. In un-homogenized milk, over time, the lighter fat rises to the top. In the industrial production of cream this process is accelerated by using centrifuges called "separators"...

. Traditionally, before cream could be skimmed from whole milk, it was left to sit for a period of time to allow the cream and milk to separate. During this time, naturally occurring lactic acid-producing bacteria in the milk fermented it. This facilitates the butter churning process, since fat from cream with a lower pH coalesces more readily than that of fresh cream. The acidic environment also helps prevent potentially harmful microorganisms from growing, increasing shelf-life. However, in establishments that used cream separators, the cream was hardly acidic at all.

In the Indian subcontinent, buttermilk is taken to be the liquid left over after extracting butter from churned yogurt (dahi). Today, this is called traditional buttermilk. Traditional buttermilk is still common in many Indo-Pakistani households but rarely found in western countries.
In Southern India and most areas of the Punjab, buttermilk with added water, sugar and/or salt, asafoetida
Asafoetida
Asafoetida , alternative spelling asafetida, is the dried latex exuded from the living underground rhizome or tap root of several species of Ferula, which is a perennial herb...

, and curry leaves is given at stalls in festival times.

Cultured buttermilk

Commercially available cultured buttermilk is milk that has been pasteurized and homogenized
Homogenization (chemistry)
Homogenization or homogenisation is any of several processes used to make a chemical mixture the same throughout.-Definition:Homogenization is intensive blending of mutually related substances or groups of mutually related substances to form a constant of different insoluble phases to obtain a...

 (if 1% or 2% fat), and then inoculated
Inoculation
Inoculation is the placement of something that will grow or reproduce, and is most commonly used in respect of the introduction of a serum, vaccine, or antigenic substance into the body of a human or animal, especially to produce or boost immunity to a specific disease...

 with a culture of lactic acid bacteria to simulate the naturally occurring bacteria in the old-fashioned product. Some dairies add colored flecks of butter to cultured buttermilk to simulate residual flecks of butter that can be left over from the churning process of traditional buttermilk.

Condensed buttermilk and Dried buttermilk have increased in importance in the food industry. Buttermilk solids are used in ice cream
Ice cream
Ice cream is a frozen dessert usually made from dairy products, such as milk and cream, and often combined with fruits or other ingredients and flavours. Most varieties contain sugar, although some are made with other sweeteners...

 manufacture. Adding specific strains of bacteria to pasteurized milk allows more consistent production.

In the early 1900s, cultured buttermilk was labeled artificial buttermilk, to differentiate it from traditional buttermilk, which was known as natural or ordinary buttermilk.

Acidified buttermilk is a related product made by adding a food-grade acid (such as lemon juice) to milk.

See also

  • Milk
    Milk
    Milk is a white liquid produced by the mammary glands of mammals. It is the primary source of nutrition for young mammals before they are able to digest other types of food. Early-lactation milk contains colostrum, which carries the mother's antibodies to the baby and can reduce the risk of many...

  • Fermented milk products
    Fermented milk products
    Fermented milk products, also known as cultured dairy foods, cultured dairy products, or cultured milk products, are dairy foods that have been fermented with lactic acid bacteria such as Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, and Leuconostoc...

  • Whey
    Whey
    Whey or Milk Serum is the liquid remaining after milk has been curdled and strained. It is a by-product of the manufacture of cheese or casein and has several commercial uses. Sweet whey is manufactured during the making of rennet types of hard cheese like cheddar or Swiss cheese...

    , the liquid left over after producing cheese
  • Doogh
    Doogh
    Doogh is a yogurt-based beverage. Popular in Iran and also found in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Iraq, Syria, Turkey, as well as the Balkans, it is sometimes carbonated. Outside of Iran and Afghanistan it is known by different names.-History:...

    , a fermented milk drink from Iran
    Iran
    Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

  • Dhallë, a type of buttermilk from Albania
    Albania
    Albania , officially known as the Republic of Albania , is a country in Southeastern Europe, in the Balkans region. It is bordered by Montenegro to the northwest, Kosovo to the northeast, the Republic of Macedonia to the east and Greece to the south and southeast. It has a coast on the Adriatic Sea...

  • Filmjölk
    Filmjölk
    Filmjölk is a Nordic dairy product, similar to yoghurt, but using different bacteria which give a different taste and texture....

    , a type of buttermilk from Sweden
    Sweden
    Sweden , officially the Kingdom of Sweden , is a Nordic country on the Scandinavian Peninsula in Northern Europe. Sweden borders with Norway and Finland and is connected to Denmark by a bridge-tunnel across the Öresund....

  • Kefir
    Kefir
    Kefir is a fermented milk drink that originated with shepherds of the North Caucasus region, who discovered that fresh milk carried in leather pouches would occasionally ferment into an effervescent beverage...

    , a fermented milk drink from the Caucasus
    Caucasus
    The Caucasus, also Caucas or Caucasia , is a geopolitical region at the border of Europe and Asia, and situated between the Black and the Caspian sea...

  • Lassi
    Lassi
    Lassi is a popular and traditional yogurt-based drink of the Indian Subcontinent. It is made by blending yogurt with water and Indian spices...

    , a South Asia
    South Asia
    South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

    n yogurt drink
  • Ghol, a South Asia
    South Asia
    South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

    n buttermilk drink
  • Mattha
    Mattha
    Mattha , also called Chaanch ,, ,,, is an Indian spiced beverage made of buttermilk. Plain buttermilk is also called by Mattha. Other ingredients may include mint, roasted cumin seeds, asafoetida, curry leaves, salt and sugar...

    , a South Asia
    South Asia
    South Asia, also known as Southern Asia, is the southern region of the Asian continent, which comprises the sub-Himalayan countries and, for some authorities , also includes the adjoining countries to the west and the east...

    n buttermilk drink
  • Ayran
    Ayran
    Ayran or laban is a cold beverage of yogurt mixed with cold water and sometimes salt; it is popular in many Central Asian, Middle Eastern and South-eastern European countries....

    , an Anatolia
    Anatolia
    Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

    n yogurt drink
  • Clabber
    Clabber (food)
    Clabber is a food produced by allowing unpasteurized milk to turn sour at a specific humidity and temperature. Over time, the milk thickens or curdles into a yoghurt-like substance with a strong, sour flavor. In rural areas of the Southern United States, it was commonly eaten for breakfast with...

    , a Southern United States
    Southern United States
    The Southern United States—commonly referred to as the American South, Dixie, or simply the South—constitutes a large distinctive area in the southeastern and south-central United States...

     soured milk drink
  • Soda bread
    Soda bread
    Soda bread is a variety of quick bread traditionally made in a variety of cuisines in which sodium bicarbonate is used as a raising agent rather than the more common yeast. The ingredients of traditional soda bread are flour, bread soda, salt, and buttermilk...

    , a type of bread popular in Ireland
    Ireland
    Ireland is an island to the northwest of continental Europe. It is the third-largest island in Europe and the twentieth-largest island on Earth...

     that uses buttermilk and bicarbonate of soda as the rising agent

External links

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