Buttermilk is the liquid left behind after churning butter out of cream. “Before cream could be skimmed from whole milk, the milk 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” This cream, known as traditional buttermilk, has always been popular in the South. Cornbread dunked in buttermilk frequently made a pleasant meal for many people in the South.
Buttermilk in glass bottle with cap ca. 1920-1950 (Theodor Horydczak Library of Congress)
Did you know buttermilk was also once thought to be a cleansing agent for the body. This transcribed article from the Birmingham Iron Age April 16, 1874, may explain why.
Robing, in a paper presented to the French Academy, thus extols the virtues of buttermilk: “Life exists only in combustion, but the combustion which occurs in our bodies, like that which takes place in our chimneys, leaves a detritus which is fatal to life. To remove this we would administer lactic acid with ordinary food. This acid is known to possess the power of removing or destroying the incrustations which form on the arteries, cartilages and valves of the heart. And buttermilk abounds in this acid, and is, moreover, an agreeable kind of food, its habitual use, it is urged, will free the system from these causes, which inevitably cause death between the seventy-fifth and hundredth year.”
Buttermilk is used frequently in cooking. From pies, pancakes, cornbread, and other breads, buttermilk enriches many foods. Do you have a favorite recipe that uses buttermilk?
- Birmingham Iron Age News April 16, 2016
Discover genealogy and novels by Donna R. Causey
includes the following stories
- The Yazoo land fraud
- Daily life as an Alabama pioneer
- The capture and arrest of Vice-president Aaron Burr
- The early life of William Barrett Travis, hero of the Alamo
- Description of Native Americans of early Alabama including the visit by Tecumseh
- Treaties and building the first roads in Alabama