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How to Make Makeshift Buttermilk

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Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: You may not have buttermilk in your fridge, but you probably have milk and vinegar. And sometimes, that's enough.


Here’s a not-so-hypothetical scenario: You’re well on your way to making biscuits, or salad dressing, or, if you’re lucky, fried chicken, when suddenly, you glance at the recipe and find yourself face to face with the dreaded ingredient: buttermilk. 

Since you obviously don't have buttermilk, you are now faced with two options. The first: Give up your pursuits. Throw in the towel. Admit defeat to the buttermilk gods. The second: Persevere. Lift your head up. Walk -- no, run -- to the refrigerator.

Do you have milk? Yes. Do you have lemon juice or white vinegar? Yes.

You have everything you need to make your own buttermilk in 10 minutes (or less). Here’s how:

For however much buttermilk you need, pour a scant amount (just below the line of the liquid measuring cup) of milk or cream.

Add a spoonful of white vinegar or lemon juice to the milk until you reach the desired volume, then mix well. Aim for about 1 tablespoon of acid for 1 cup of milk.

Let the mixture stand at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes. You will see the curds when it is ready. Add more vinegar or lemon juice if nothing seems to have changed. Your makeshift buttermilk won't be as thick as the store bought variety, but it will do the trick!

Photos by James Ransom

Tags: kitchen confidence, how-to & DIY, buttermilk, substitute, milk, lemon juice, vinegar, tips, advice, baking

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