What Does Buttermilk Taste Like?


Buttermilk is a dairy product that many people probably haven’t tasted by itself. You likely have seen it as an ingredient in recipes like dressings, pancakes, waffles, bread, onion rings, and much more. However, not many people pour a glass of buttermilk with their Sunday dinner. By its name, you might assume that it is a combination of butter and milk. How can’t that be good? Let’s take a look at what actually is buttermilk and how it tastes on its own.

Buttermilk (the old-fashioned kind) is actually the leftover liquid from the production of butter. To create butter, milk is placed in a separator which separates the buttercream from the remaining milk liquid known as skim milk. The separated buttercream is added to a churner which spins  until buttermilk separates from butter. The buttermilk is drained from the butter. What is left is traditional butter and the byproduct of butter known as buttermilk. However, chances are that this is not how the buttermilk you buy at the store is manufactured.

The grocery store buttermilk that you are probably familiar with doesn’t even involve butter. Your buttermilk is likely cultured low-fat milk that has been soured by the addition of a nonharmful bacteria. There are also typically additives or thickening agents used as ingredients such as carrageenan, mono and diglycerides, locust bean gum, and food starch. Finally, there is high amount of salt included as an ingredient.

What Does Buttermilk Taste Like?

Modern store-bought buttermilk is one of those products that makes many foods taste great, but by itself, it is not so wonderful. However, there are some who enjoy it straight from the bottle or at least, tolerate it.  Obviously, taste buds vary, so depending on who you ask, buttermilk’s taste will also vary. Generally, buttermilk has a sour taste as you would expect. Store-bought buttermilk lacks a creaminess or sweetness that  you might expect since it is made from milk. Rather the taste is tangy and some say bitter with a slight thickness to its texture. Some compare it to a toned down or less tangy plain low-fat yogurt that is drinkable. If you have ever had a swig or glass of buttermilk, let us know what you think it tastes like in the comments below.

Photo Credit: Rebecca Siegal

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