Buttermilk Begins to Get Its Due
We figure most people have a weird relationship with buttermilk - what is that stuff, anyway? The short answer is that "real buttermilk is what’s left of heavy cream once it has been churned." The best part is that it's delicious, and has steadily been making itself noticed through serious butter makers and innovative chefs. The New York Times has the story, and it's a good one:
“People have no idea how good this stuff is, but they are about to find out,” said Mr. Patry, 62, who is possibly the most optimistic and talkative native Mainer in history.
Many home cooks keep buttermilk on hand for pancakes, ranch dressing or corn bread. They might know that it makes more tender cakes (because it softens the gluten in flour), loftier biscuits (its acid boosts leaveners like baking soda and baking powder) and thicker dressings (lactic acid in buttermilk gently curdles proteins into a smooth mass).
But what few cooks know is that commercial buttermilk isn’t really buttermilk. It is made from regular low-fat or skim milk, usually low-grade rejects from cheese and butter companies. The milk is inoculated with cultures to make it acidic, and thickened with additives like locust bean gum and carrageenan. The result is a flattened facsimile of the real thing, as a ring tone is to a song.