Raise your Buttermilk Bar, Baby: Make your own Cultured Buttermilk!

buttermilk in cup and antique chicken dish

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If you knew that starting your own cultured buttermilk was just as easy as falling off a log, and that once you started it you’d have a lifetime supply of yummy buttermilk, with very little time and/or effort on your behalf, what would you say?

While you’re thinking . . . a note: this is not the buttermilk substitute that I’ve made for years with milk + lemon juice. This is the real actual deal and using it in baked goods, pancakes and the like results in fluffiness that will cause you to say (see below*) . . .

I’ll tell you what I said, when our son Timothy handed me a small jar with a buttermilk starter in it, and shared how easy it was to take it home and make my own cultured buttermilk (and I quote):


. . . And once you had your own homemade cultured buttermilk in hand, what would you say when you found out that using it to make your favorite buttermilk recipes (pancakes, dip, biscuits, dressings, and whatnot) made the recipes taste 1000% better . . . ?

I’ll tell you what I said, when I found this out for myself:

Homemade cultured buttermilk, where have you been* all my life??

(*And I pronounced BEEN as BEAN, to sound more cultured, myself.) (Cultured is as cultured does.)

I’m beginning to realize that the crowd I run with is the best bunch of folks I could ask for to slog through the End Times.

(I asked a friend at a weekly coffee meet-up: “Tell me, do you think we’re in the End Times?” “Oh Amy,” he said, shaking his head at my naiveté: “We’ve been in the End Times for a long time now.”)

And if we really are in the End Times, you want to hang out with folks who can do things. Who know how to make things, fix junk, and grow stuff.

For example: A couple of weeks ago, Timothy shared a buttermilk starter with me. After I swallowed (no pun intended) the WOWness of how easy it was to make my own cultured buttermilk, I turned around and shared the selfsame buttermilk starter with my Mom (who dotes on buttermilk) and my adopted sister Anne; the same week our daughter Amalia shared her kombucha starter with me and I shared my sourdough starter with Anne. Which I got originally from my son Timothy.

buttermilk in jar and cup

It’s the Circle of Life. Of sustenance. And Goodness. It’s every End Times dream circle of folks, I reckon. It won’t be long before we’re passing garden comestibles, too. Dad will share his wildly-productive squashes with me (“Mom and I won’t eat them all,”); I’ll hand over excess slicing tomatoes to him. My biz partner and farmer friend Gene will share extry kale and mizuna plugs with me. I’ll share eggs and bread with him. My farmer friend Emely will trade me her scrumptious lardo and honey for starter plants. And on and on. It’s a happifying, blessed thing to have a circle like this.

We don’t all have to make and do and grow everything. As long as the folks we hang out with have different specialties than ours, and are willing to trade, teach, mentor, and share, we’ll make it through the End Times. It’s a pretty cool set-up, don’t you agree?

But let’s not wander too far afield from the cultured buttermilk, lest I lose the point entirely (it has been known to happen).

How to make your own cultured buttermilk

Boom, baby. We’re back on topic. Just like that.

Simply put: Cultured buttermilk can be made by fermenting milk with a buttermilk culture. Cultured buttermilk is a sweet and probiotic drink. It is also a delicious substitute for yogurt, or you can use it in baking to provide a tangy lift to pancakes, biscuits, coffeecake, breads, etc. And–all those cultures are loaded with probiotics and therefore good for your gut.

And your gut probably needs this goodness, no offense. We live in a fallen world, nutritionally speaking. Our guts–collectively–are not in the best of shape.

So what are we waiting for? Here’s how to make your first batch of cultured buttermilk.


  • 1/2 cup of cultured buttermilk from a friend or your store (if you can’t find a start, you can also order this to use, and if you do, follow the instructions on the package)
  • 2 cups milk (You can use whole or skim, but whole milk makes a creamier buttermilk.) (Personally, I opted for the creamier option.)


  1. Mix the culture with the milk in a clean glass jar, and cover with a clean towel.
  2. Let sit on the counter for 8 to 12 hours. (Buttermilk cultures best in 72F temperature.) Note: if you have other ferments or cultures sitting out, keep your buttermilk culture at least 6′ away.
  3. Taste your buttermilk, and when it’s tangy enough for you, refrigerate. The longer it sits out, the more sour it will get, and the more it will thicken, fyi.

Your jar of buttermilk will last at least two weeks in the ‘fridge, but I’ll bet you’ll find lots of reasons to use it before then! When you are ready to use it, be sure to start another jar. (I also froze a small amount, to be sure that I don’t accidentally run out of starter.)

But Wait . . there’s more!

This cultured buttermilk-making is a new thing for me! (Thanks, Timmy.) I’ve so far made the best biscuits I’ve ever tasted, and the nicest, fluffiest pancakes, too. But I’m learning as I go, and as I learn more, I’ll share it . . . right here.

So please drop your email address into the dandy little box under my face, above. I’ll make sure you get every single update. No charge.

Take care, my lovely gentle reader. Stay in touch by saying HEY in the comments below.

I love ya, I mean it!








18 thoughts on “Raise your Buttermilk Bar, Baby: Make your own Cultured Buttermilk!

  1. Kay

    “Hey Friend!!” Wish I had a different trade-able skill to share with you, but working this full-time big gurl job off the farm has me woe-fully lacking in such skills. So I will willingly pay my hard-earned dollars for such wonders as farm eggs, honey, garden plants (ahem, which I read will be coming to a depot farm SOON!), pork, chickens, etc…etc…etc…
    I’m eager to hear how much you use this cultured buttermilk? Our empty-nest of 2 older people are down-sizing our food consumption and purchases. I am no longer feeding 2 growing boys with hollow legs nor a Farmer who eats like one. I could easily feed a football team for a month with what I have squirreled away in my pantry and freezers.
    And so while homemade cultured buttermilk sounds lovely, I’m hesitant to make that leap. I would hate to have it go bad and have to toss it.
    I’ll be watching and reading how it goes for you.

    PS: Have I missed the “new” kitchen reveal? Like the whole thing with photos to drool over? Enlighten me Girlfriend. 🙂

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Hi Friend!
      Hmm . . . what a good question! As far as if you’d use the cultured buttermilk, so far I’ve used it to make very special pancakes for the grandies, really superb biscuits for my church group, veggie dip and ranch dressing! Somehow having it right there in the ‘fridge whenever I open the door makes me want to use it. The cultures in it are so healthy for your gut, too, so that’s an incentive. As far as it going bad—I have read that culturing buttermilk will make the milk last much longer. It doesn’t go sour, it just gets thicker. So far I’ve let it sit for two weeks (in the ‘fridge) before I used it and it didn’t seem to lose any quality. I’d say–try it, girlfriend! It’s a whole lot simpler way to get good probiotics into your gut than say, sourdough, and if you get tired of it, you can always just use it up!
      p.s. Ohhh I’m gonna do a kitchen post someday soon! We haven’t done the tile backsplash yet–I’m intimidated by it, but I’m working up the courage–! Thanks for the sweet encouragement. Watch for it!

  2. Sharon H

    Hi, Amy! this is intriguing, to say the least. I love that it’s cultured, the real deal, as opposed to “lemon/vinegar-induced sour milk”. (Just FYI, it always bugs me to read a recipe calling for buttermilk and see a side note for how to make buttermilk, ie lemon juice and milk. Arrgghh, that is NOT buttermilk!…..call it what is….sour milk)
    So, since we don’t drink buttermilk and we rarely enjoy gluten-laden foods these days, I’m wondering how practical would this be for my kitchen? Freezing it crossed my mind and I see you have done that. Did it alter the quality in any way? Can you share your method, please?
    Thanks for sharing this great idea!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Hi Sharon!
      UGH I feel the same about the sloppy editing in the “lemon juice + milk = buttermilk” issue. Honestly I’m still learning about using cultured buttermilk in my own kitchen, but I’ll continue to share with you what I learn. As far as non-gluten-containing recipes, so far I’ve made a delicious ranch dressing, and an herb-filled dip for veg. Both were quite delicious! And I froze the starter–about 1/2 cup–in a small lidded freezer container. After I thawed it and stirred it, it seemed just fine. See the link about, in my response to Janet: you can also dehydrate it and make buttermilk powder, which can be reconstituted. Cool stuff!

  3. cookinmom

    Hello Amy from Florida! Gorgeous day today!
    Would love recipes to go with my newly made buttermilk! Similar to yogurt but easier! I knew it was easier but not this easy. I get fresh whole milk from a farm so can’t wait to make. Thanks for giving out easy recipes that are keepers for us!
    Be blessed & Happy Gardening!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Hi Rose! I’m thinking every day about moving to Florida!
      I’m going to be posting recipes, as I learn more about using this lovely home cultured buttermilk. I would encourage you to use it in any recipe that you would normally use buttermilk–pancakes, biscuits, ranch dressing, chip’n’dip, etc. Everything that I’ve used it in so far has turned out SUPERBLY tasty. In fact I’m working on a post right now about buttermilk biscuits. Watch for it!

  4. Janet Dugan

    This sounds fascinating! I learned that I could dry some of my sourdough starter to keep for emergencies when my refrigerated starter gets moldy, or gets forgotten for too long (oops). Would buttermilk starter work for dehydrating as well?
    You’ve motivated me to try making and using some!

  5. Dave

    Are you going to share the pancake and biscuit recipes that you used? Oops, I just checked to see if someone else asked. But I’ll still ask, just because. 🙂

  6. Julie

    Wow, I only thought you could get buttermilk from making butter from fresh milk lol Shows how much I know! This will come in very handy. Now to go find some buttermilk cultures!

  7. Hollyn

    This sounds amazing! I am going to try this and can’t wait to use it for some biscuits and pancakes. Thanks for demystifying how to make cultured buttermilk!

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