Interesting Facts about Buttermilk - how to prepare , health benefits , side effects

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product that has a tangy flavor and a thick consistency. It is often used in baking, cooking and marinating, as well as a refreshing drink. Buttermilk can provide various health benefits, such as improving digestion, boosting energy, strengthening bones and teeth, and lowering blood pressure. However, it also has some downsides, such as being high in sodium, containing lactose and potentially causing allergic reactions. Here is everything you need to know about buttermilk, including how to make it at home.

There are two types of buttermilk: traditional and cultured.

- Traditional buttermilk is the liquid leftover after churning butter from whole milk. It is low in fat and high in protein. It is rarely found in Western countries today, but it is still common in parts of Nepal, Pakistan and India.
- Cultured buttermilk is made by adding beneficial bacteria to pasteurized and homogenized milk. It is more acidic and thicker than traditional buttermilk. It is the type of buttermilk that is usually sold in stores and used in recipes.

How to Make Buttermilk at Home

You can make your own buttermilk at home using two different methods: the 10-minute way or the cultured way.

The 10-Minute Way

This method is quick and easy, but it does not produce real buttermilk. It creates an acidic dairy mixture that can be used as a substitute for buttermilk in recipes.

- Pour 1 cup of whole or 2% milk into a liquid measuring cup. You can also use vegan milk of your choice.
- Add 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or white distilled vinegar to the milk. Stir to combine.
- Let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. It will curdle slightly and become sour.
- Use it as you would use buttermilk in recipes.

The Cultured Way

This method takes longer, but it produces authentic buttermilk that has a similar flavor and texture to the store-bought version.

- Pour 1/2 cup of cultured buttermilk into a lidded container that can hold 6 cups. You can use any non-reactive container with a lid, such as a Mason jar.
- Pour 1 quart of milk into the container. You can use whole, 2% or 1% milk. Stir to combine the milk and buttermilk thoroughly.
- Leave the container on the counter at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours. The mixture will thicken and become tangy. The longer you leave it out, the thicker and tangier it will be. The time may vary depending on how warm your kitchen is.
- Store the buttermilk in the refrigerator for up to a month. Use it as you would use buttermilk in recipes.

Interesting Facts about Buttermilk - how to prepare , health benefits , side effects

Health Benefits of Buttermilk

Buttermilk has several health benefits, such as:

- Cooling down the body: Buttermilk is a natural coolant that can quench thirst and lower body temperature in hot weather. It can also provide relief to post-menopausal women who experience hot flashes.
- Preventing dehydration: Buttermilk contains water and electrolytes, such as potassium, that help maintain hydration and prevent fluid loss.
- Improving digestion: Buttermilk contains healthy bacteria and lactic acid that aid digestion and metabolism. It also helps regulate bowel movements and prevent constipation. It can also help treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and prevent stomach infections, lactose intolerance and colon cancer.
- Boosting energy: Buttermilk contains riboflavin, a B vitamin that is essential for energy production and protein metabolism. It also provides protein, calcium and other nutrients that support overall health.
- Strengthening bones and teeth: Buttermilk is a good source of calcium, which is vital for bone and tooth health. Calcium helps prevent osteoporosis and other degenerative bone diseases.

Side Effects of Buttermilk

Buttermilk also has some potential downsides, such as:

- Being high in sodium: Buttermilk contains about 16% of the daily value (DV) of sodium per cup. Too much sodium can raise blood pressure and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. People who have hypertension or are on a low-sodium diet should limit their intake of buttermilk or choose low-sodium varieties.
- Containing lactose: Buttermilk contains lactose, the natural sugar in milk. Some people are lactose intolerant, meaning they cannot digest lactose properly and may experience symptoms such as bloating, gas, diarrhea and abdominal pain. People who are lactose intolerant should avoid buttermilk or use lactose-free alternatives.
- Causing allergic reactions: Buttermilk is a dairy product, which means it can trigger allergic reactions in some people who are allergic to milk or milk proteins. Symptoms of a milk allergy may include hives, itching, swelling, wheezing, coughing, vomiting and anaphylaxis. People who have a milk allergy should avoid buttermilk and use non-dairy alternatives.

When to Avoid Buttermilk

Buttermilk is generally safe and healthy for most people, but there are some situations where it should be avoided or consumed with caution, such as:

- When it is expired or spoiled: Buttermilk has a longer shelf life than regular milk, but it can still go bad over time. Expired or spoiled buttermilk may have an unpleasant smell, taste or appearance. It may also contain harmful bacteria that can cause food poisoning. Do not use buttermilk that is past its expiration date or shows signs of spoilage.
- When it is not stored properly: Buttermilk should be stored in the refrigerator at 40°F (4°C) or below. It should not be left out at room temperature for more than two hours, as this can increase the risk of bacterial growth and spoilage. It should also be kept away from heat, light and moisture sources that can affect its quality and safety.
- When it interacts with certain medications: Buttermilk contains calcium, which can interfere with the absorption of some medications, such as antibiotics, thyroid hormones and osteoporosis drugs. Calcium can also affect the effectiveness of some blood pressure medications, such as calcium channel blockers. If you are taking any medications, consult your doctor before consuming buttermilk.