It will be your new favorite back-of-fridge staple
Raise your hand if you’ve ever been about to cook something and then realized you're out of buttermilk. Even if there’s a grocery store less than five minutes away, who wants to leave their kitchen mid-recipe for a carton of milk? This very conundrum is why I always keep powdered buttermilk in the back of my fridge. Like powdered milk, powdered buttermilk is simply dehydrated tangy milk, and it works exactly like the real deal.
Buttermilk is one of those flavors that really can’t be replaced in a recipe. Sure, you can use yogurt thinned with water or curdle regular milk with lemon juice or vinegar in a pinch, but in both cases, the flavor will still be missing the buttermilk-specific tang.
There are probably other brands of powdered buttermilk on the market, but I always use Saco Cultured Buttermilk Powder. This brand, which is shelf-stable until it’s opened, contains “a cultured blend of sweet cream churned buttermilk, sweet dairy whey, and lactic acid.” The addition of lactic acid is what technically makes this buttermilk “cultured,” which presents as thicker and more tangy; regular buttermilk, which is less sour, is created by letting the lactic acid bacteria occur naturally. Aside from the semi-creepy illustration of a mustachioed chef on the front, the red, yellow, and blue carton always does me right. From pancakes to bread to dressing, Saco powdered buttermilk lends the same tangy, creamy hit to foods as buttermilk without the extra bulk of a carton in the fridge.
Having a container of powdered buttermilk not only saves fridge real estate, but also lasts for years, giving you a better bang for your buck in the long run. A carton of buttermilk will probably last about three weeks in the fridge, but unless you’re making a vat of buttermilk dressing for a party or work in a bakery, how quickly are you going through the stuff? In my experience, a recipe will call for maybe a cup of buttermilk, and unless I’m really trying to use it up, I won’t need buttermilk again for months. It’s wasteful and irritating. Powdered buttermilk solves this problem. The container of Saco is concentrated such that 1 cup of buttermilk is equivalent to 4 tablespoons powdered buttermilk and 1 cup water. The powder is added along with the dry ingredients in a recipe and the water is added at the time the recipe calls for buttermilk. After using it in a recipe, the container goes right back into the fridge until I’m ready to use it again.