So you made Carla Lalli Music’s Giant No-Flip Blueberry Pancake, which calls for 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, and now you’re stuck—pardon me, you’re blessed—with a half-full bottle of leftover buttermilk. You’re buttermilk rich!
Maybe in your past life you would’ve let that buttermilk languish in the fridge, slowly migrating to the back behind the who-knows-how-old jam and the maybe-it’s-chili-sauce, only to be disposed of when your lease ends and you’re forced to clean out the fridge.
In your new identity as a wildly resourceful kitchen whiz, however, you will consider that buttermilk to be a boon, not a burden. It’s about to make your biscuits higher and your chicken juicier.
First, what is buttermilk? In times of olde, it was the liquid leftover from churning butter. In grocery stores today, most buttermilk cartons consist of milk that has been cultured with bacteria, causing it to thicken and sour.
And what is it good for? The sweet, buttery treats you live for. While not as sour as vinegar or lemon juice, buttermilk contributes a subtle tang that gives your palate a break from that sugar and fat. Because it’s acidic, it also acts as a tenderizer, eating away at long strands of gluten that could make muffins, cakes, or quick breads tough. And because buttermilk is thicker and creamier than milk, what it goes into comes out softer and richer.
But that’s not all. Buttermilk contributes to leavening, working with its friend baking soda to produce the carbon dioxide gas that cause batters and doughs to rise when they hit heat, making for fluffier pancakes and crackly-ier fried chicken (because more rising = more air bubbles = crispier breading).
Speaking of chicken (we were!), buttermilk tenderizes meat, which makes it a great marinade. (Have you even heard of Samin Nosrat?) It adds a zingy punch to places where you’d normally add milk or cream—like soups and chowda-s, dressings, mashed potatoes—so you can eat more dairy without feeling like you’re…eating more dairy.
When making subs and swaps, remember: Buttermilk is more acidic than milk, less fatty than cream, and thinner than yogurt. As a general rule, don’t mess with baking recipes (which have been specifically formulated for a certain type of dairy), but experiment with dishes where the, ahem, chemistry, isn’t as important. Start with adding just a bit of buttermilk in place of the called-for fat, then go from there.
Here are 10 no-brainer ways to use it up:
- Use it to brine a chicken before roasting (the acidity makes the meat super tender)
- Add a splash into your favorite creamy dip (have chips at the ready!)
- Make a simple buttermilk dressing with lemon juice, olive oil, salt, then toss with your favorite simple green salad (or swap out part of the yogurt in our Every Night Salad and use buttermilk instead)
- Fry chicken? A little ambitious, but with buttermilk in the fridge, you’re “halfway” (okay, 8 percent) there
- Buttermilk ranch, for drizzling over pizza or dunking carrots
- Sweeten with sugar, then pour over sliced peaches or a handful of ripe berries (mmm!)
- Blend into your next smoothie (bonus points if you add roasted strawberries and tahini)
- Mix with mayo and lemon juice, then use that to soften a summer slaw
- Replace some of the whole milk for buttermilk when you’re mashing potatoes…
- ...or making Adult Mac and Cheese
Buttermilk will last for two to three weeks once it’s open (signs it’s bad: it’s too thick to pour or measure; it’s discolored or, gasp, moldy; it’s sour-smelling and less buttery-tasting). That gives you all the time in the world (okay, okay two to three weeks) to work on your buttermilk biscuit game. Clocks start now!
Even more buttermilk recipes:
Originally Appeared on Bon Appétit