When we talk about buttermilk, it denotes two dissimilar varieties of dairy products, subject to the part of the globe where the consumer is residing. Old fashioned or conventional buttermilk is the liquid residue after milk is churned for butter. This variety of buttermilk is well-liked by people in Indian and other regions of Southeast Asia. On the other hand, cultured buttermilk is a milk product widely found labelled and sold as "buttermilk" in the supermarkets in America. However, both traditional as well as the American variety of buttermilk are creamy and rich. Both these types of buttermilk can be drunk straight away and also used in baking items.

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These days, buttermilk is becoming increasingly popular because it offers marvellous health benefits. This diary product is an excellent source of B vitamins, calcium and potassium. In addition, buttermilk also encloses probiotics that facilitates digestion, in addition to strengthening the immune system.

Many people have a wrong notion that buttermilk contains elevated amounts of fat. This is owing to the name of this dairy product - buttermilk. In fact, the fat content in buttermilk is much less than that of original milk. This is because most of the fat content is churned out in the form of butter before the formation of buttermilk. Therefore, including buttermilk in one's diet is not only a wise choice, but healthy too. This is the reason why most health-conscious people drink more and more of buttermilk these days.

Compared to the cultured buttermilk available in the American supermarkets, traditional buttermilk is much thinner. Besides, the traditional buttermilk has a tendency to be paler as well as more acidic compared to conventional milk. Buttermilk is prepared following the churning of butter. By tradition, dairy farms skim off the cream from milk and store it in vats for churning butter. It would take many days to collect enough cream that could be churned into butter. Consequently, the fat and also the resultant buttermilk would become slightly sour. Moreover, it is relatively easy to churn slightly sour cream, which, in turn, imparts a characteristic flavour to butter. This type of butter is preferred by a section of the consumers.

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Once the churning was over, the farms removed the butter and washed it in cold water in order to get rid of any excess milk and added salt to the butter for preservation. The whitish liquid that was left behind in the churn after removing the butter was called "buttermilk". Typically, this remaining liquid was acidic, rich and had a sour flavour. Often, this liquid also contains butter flakes floating in it. People in several regions of the world drink this creamy, sour beverage. However, these days it is not easily available in the America.

Cultured buttermilk, which is readily available in America, is prepared by fermenting milk and the process involved converts milk sugars into lactic acid. As a result of this, milk proteins turn solid since they are not soluble in excessive acidic conditions. The result of this is several small chunks of protein and denser milk, known as clabbering. At the same time, the beverage becomes further tart compared to normal milk owing to the increase in acidity. It is worth mentioning that the shelf life of buttermilk is longer compared to regular milk. This is owing to the fact that the harmful bacteria are prevented from thriving in such acidic condition. The same process is employed for preparing sour milk. In the latter case cream is fermented in place of milk to produce sour cream.

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Many people drink buttermilk directly, while it also has a number of uses in cooking. A particular type of bread called soda bread, wherein the acid present in buttermilk reacts with sodium bicarbonate - the rising agent, to form carbon dioxide (CO2). Here, carbon dioxide serves as the leavening agent. Often, people also use buttermilk for marinating purpose, particularly when cooking chicken and pork. Buttermilk is an excellent marinating agent because the lactic acid present in it helps to make the meat or chicken tender, while retaining its moisture. At the same time, buttermilk allows the added flavours to infuse all through the meat.

Buttermilk is also widely used in baked goods. Many bakers use this dairy product, especially cultured buttermilk, in products like biscuits, scones, pancakes and various similar items because buttermilk imparts a tangy flavour to the food items. Nevertheless, consumers should be careful while buying baked goods containing buttermilk, as it is a soured food item. While the acidic conditions in buttermilk does not allow harmful bacteria to thrive in it, but it is always advisable to throw away buttermilk or products containing it if its flavour is even a little off. Consuming this type of buttermilk may result in minor gastrointestinal (GI) problems because of the molds or stray bacteria.

Health benefits

Like most other dairy products, buttermilk too offers several health benefits. Buttermilk is good for women in pre-menopausal as well as post-menopausal stage because it is effective in reducing their body heat and alleviating symptoms related to the condition. Hence, it is not surprising that this dairy product is very popular among such women. Buttermilk is also very useful for women who are seeking respite from conditions like hot flashes, because it is a wonderful way to counterbalance such disturbing symptoms. Buttermilk is also useful for men suffering from high body temperature and high metabolism. Drinking buttermilk regularly will help them to reduce their body temperature and also normalize their metabolic process. Nevertheless, the uses of buttermilk are not only limited to dropping body temperatures, as it offer several other health advantages.

Buttermilk is an amazing beverage that contains high amounts of lactic acid bacteria. This particular bacteria facilitates digestion, thereby reducing incidents of frequent heartburns as well as excessive stomach acid production. Lactic acid bacteria present in buttermilk can also help to perk up the immune system. It is also effective in combating the detrimental bacteria and pathogens present in the food we consume every day. Drinking buttermilk regularly can help the body to enhance its preparedness in counteracting harmful bacteria that can damage the body and make one fall ill. In addition, buttermilk contains rich amounts of several other nutriments like calcium and potassium. These essential minerals in buttermilk augment the nutritional value of this beverage, which is already very nutritious.

It has been established that consuming buttermilk regularly helps to lose more surplus body weight compared to drinking regular milk daily. Moreover, buttermilk is a wonderful snack that helps to delay hunger between meals. This dairy product can also be used as a substitute for meals too. People consuming buttermilk daily have a tendency to become fuller quickly and also have optimal body weight.

Buttermilk can be digested very easily and, hence, it is useful for promoting the health of the digestive system. Drinking this beverage makes it easy for our body to take up all vital nutrients contained in other ingested foods and needed by it for its healthy functioning. Moreover, buttermilk contains very low amount of fat and it is compatible with any low-fat and healthy diet.

Other benefits of drinking buttermilk regularly are that it ensures a healthy and glowing skin. People who drink this beverage daily have a healthy digestive system, which reflects in their healthier and clearer skin. There are people who also take buttermilk baths with a view to enhance the health and appearance of their skin. This healthy dairy product is effective in retaining the moisture of the skin and enhancing its glow as well as elasticity. It is worth mentioning here that taking a bath with buttermilk is not only very relaxing, but extremely soothing too.

Before concluding this article, it is important to write that buttermilk is an extremely prudent substitute for the regular whole milk. While consuming regular milk provides us with all the necessary health benefits, drinking buttermilk is more useful because it is low in fat content and helps us to keep our body weight in check. Hence, people who are trying to find a wonderful calcium sources should find it in buttermilk, which has an incredible flavour, let alone the various health benefits of consuming it.


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