Friday, March 23, 2012

Fresh vs. Powdered Buttermilk

I hate buttermilk. It smells and it's expensive and I can never tell when it's gone bad. But it's an essential acid in lots of baking recipes, like in quick breads. As an acid, the buttermilk reacts with baking soda and baking powder to create gas bubbles that leaven without yeast. But I am not always a great planner and I often find myself without this critical ingredient in the house when I need it, or if i do get it for a recipe, I have to get a mega sized container because that is all they have and I end up pouring the remainder down the drain. If there is one thing I hate, its wasting food and money!! Okay that's 2 things, but work with me :)

Then I found out about powdered buttermilk. I was really skeptical. I mean, reconstituted anything is worse than its fresh counterpart, right? But for baking, would it do the trick? I decided it was worth a try.

I made some cornbread and Irish soda bread with it. Although the rise was a tiny bit lower than with fresh, especially with the heavy cornmeal in the cornbread, the taste was fine and it was still very acceptable. I'll admit, I didn't do any side by side tests (who needs that much cornbread) but the bottom line is that it makes palatable results. The small container seems like it will last a long time, and it's reasonable in cost, especially compared to buying fresh and wasting half every time.

Bottom line: Try it for yourself! I certainly think it works! Just remember to add it to the dry ingredients and add the water in place of the buttermilk when the recipe calls for it.

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