Just so we're all on the same page, the buttermilk you likely buy in the store, explains New York Times writer Julia Moskin, "isn't really buttermilk. It is made from regular low-fat or skim milk, usually low-grade rejects from cheese and butter companies. The milk is inoculated with cultures to make it acidic, and thickened with additives like locust bean gum and carrageenan." It certainly works to fluff up pancakes and biscuits and is a quick ticket to creamy salad dressings, but not many folks would like to drink it straight.
Until now. Many creameries are starting to bottle their own buttermilk and sell it to some grocery stores and higher-end restaurants. This buttermilk is what remains in the churn after the butter comes together. It often has little chunks of butter actually floating in it, and boasts a tart yet light flavor. It's not seen as a by-product any longer, but as a sought-after ingredient in sweet and savory recipes that more and more U.S. chefs are starting to recognize and demand.
If you have a local dairy you like or folks that sell cheese and butter at your local farmers market, you could begin by asking them about real buttermilk. As the demand and curiosity grows, so too, eventually, will the supply.
→ Read More: How to Find (or Make) Real Buttermilk at The New York Times
Related: What is Bulgarian Buttermilk?
(Image: Megan Gordon)