Is it possible for buttermilk to spoil?

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Anybody who eats dairy products is well aware of how delicate these meals can be. Milk and milk products are very prone to spoiling and must be constantly monitored due to an abundance of naturally existing bacteria as well as an excess of carbohydrates that form the ideal food supply for those tiny creatures.

But, buttermilk is an intriguing instance. You may already be acquainted with the sour taste of this dairy product, which is noticeable as soon as you breach the seal on the container well before the expiry date! This raises the issue of whether buttermilk spoils.

However, buttermilk falls into the same category as other dairy products and is just as dangerous as ordinary milk and cream. We’ll tell you what makes buttermilk different from conventional milk, how to spot indications of spoiling, and even how to use up that carton of leftover buttermilk before it expires!

What is Buttermilk?

Buttermilk is a fermented dairy product in which lactic acid bacteria consume all of the lactose (milk sugars), resulting in the production of two significant byproducts: lactic acid and diacetyl. The lactic acid gives the buttermilk its distinct sour taste, while the diacetyl adds to the product’s buttery flavor.

Buttermilk tastes similar to sour cream or plain yogurt, two more commonly available fermented milk products. Although the tangy taste is identical, the texture is not. Buttermilk is thinner and easier to pour than sour cream or yogurt, but notably thicker than ordinary milk.

Buttermilk has a lower fat level than full fat milk or heavy cream, although this may vary since the ultimate fat content is totally dependent on how much fat was in the milk that initiated the fermentation in the first place.

Moreover, the fact that buttermilk contains more lactic acid than ordinary milk indicates that it has less lactose than other dairy products. Although buttermilk is not lactose free, it contains much less and may be a decent alternative for individuals who are lactose intolerant.

What is Buttermilk Used For?

Buttermilk’s distinct taste and qualities make it ideal for a broad variety of culinary applications, from sweet to savory and everything in between!

  • Buttermilk’s somewhat tangy flavor is ideal for sauces and dressings, such as the famous buttermilk ranch!
  • Buttermilk is excellent for baking because of its strong acid content, which adds moisture to baked foods.
  • Buttermilk + baking soda also causes baked items to rise, making it great for producing fluffy pancakes and waffles or baking light and flaky biscuits.
  • Heated buttermilk may be squeezed into buttermilk cheese using only a few layers of cheesecloth, which is wonderful on its own or in recipes.
  • Buttermilk’s acidity is also ideal for savory dishes. Marinating chicken or pork in a buttermilk bath before cooking helps to tenderize the flesh by breaking down the protein before it is cooked.

Types of Buttermilk

As a supermarket shopper, you’re probably most acquainted with cultured buttermilk, which is professionally manufactured and widely accessible. Nevertheless, there are two different forms of buttermilk, and it is critical to grasp the ramifications of each!

Traditional Buttermilk

The commercially made buttermilk that most of us are used to using is not identical to the original. Fresh buttermilk was formerly the liquid left over after butter was produced from fresh cream.

Since all of the fats had found their way into the butter throughout the process, the leftover liquid was relatively low in fat while retaining a delightful buttery flavor. Moreover, since the milk was kept at room temperature throughout the butter-making process, traditional buttermilk was naturally fermented. The naturally existing lactic acid bacteria ate away at the carbohydrates in the liquid, rendering it sour.

Cultured Buttermilk

It is no longer necessary to make butter first in order to have some excellent grade buttermilk accessible. To fulfill demand for buttermilk without relying on butter production, manufacturers add lactic acid bacteria straight to fresh milk, thereby ruining it in a controlled way.

Since these bacteria are known as cultures, this sort of commercially manufactured buttermilk is commonly referred to as cultured buttermilk to distinguish it from the original variety. Adding cultures to skim milk produces cultured buttermilk that is most close to conventional buttermilk in composition, although there are additional buttermilk variations prepared with partial and full fat milk. As you may assume, the higher the fat content of the initial milk, the richer and butterier the finished buttermilk!

Cultured buttermilk is thicker and tangier than conventional buttermilk, although traditional buttermilk may vary greatly depending on who prepares it and how much fat remains after the butter is made.

Powdered Buttermilk

Powdered buttermilk is just ordinary buttermilk that has been totally dehydrated, resulting in a fine powder with the same look and feel as powdered milk. The buttermilk powder is readily reconstituted for liquid usage; just combine the powder with cold water until you get the appropriate consistency of liquid buttermilk.

The acidity that you expect from buttermilk is still there in the powder, so you may use it straight in batters and doughs while baking without first mixing it with water! Buttermilk powder is also wonderful for salad dressing mixes since it readily blends with oil and vinegar, or it may be used to dredge proteins before searing or frying.

While having a longer shelf life than fresh buttermilk, powdered buttermilk is best stored in the fridge after opening to make it last even longer.

Does Buttermilk Go Bad?

Since buttermilk is strong in lactic acid, it has a longer shelf life than ordinary milk. Mold and dangerous bacteria development is substantially slowed by the acidic atmosphere. Nevertheless, the product does not endure forever!

Unopened buttermilk should be safe to use for up to two weeks beyond the expiry date. But, bear in mind that if the buttermilk was mismanaged during delivery or left out on the countertop for lengthy periods of time over its lifecycle, it may turn sooner. Opened buttermilk should be consumed within 1-2 weeks after opening and should be carefully scrutinized for any symptoms of deterioration, as detailed below.

In addition to spoiling problems, buttermilk tends to lose its buttermilk-y properties as it matures. This is because buttermilk continues to ferment even after it has been bottled.

When the quantity of lactic acid rises, it eventually wipes off all of that great tasting diacetyl, which, as you may recall, is the byproduct responsible for the product’s rich, buttery flavor. As a result, the buttermilk will grow progressively sour, with decreasing amounts of fat taste to smooth it out. Although this change in flavor does not represent a concern in and of itself, it does detract from the intended taste and influence that buttermilk should have on the recipes in which it is used.

How to Tell if Buttermilk Has Gone Bad

Strictly speaking, buttermilk is already spoilt by nature, therefore it might be difficult to identify whether buttermilk has gone sour in a manner that could be detrimental to you. The indicators of deterioration that you would perceive in other dairy products, such as a slightly sour smell or a thick texture, are already present in buttermilk, so how can you tell if it is bad?

Fortunately, there are certain significant indicators to look for when deciding whether or not you have rotten buttermilk on your hands.

  • Any visible mold is an immediate no-go! Even if the mold is just around the lip of the bottle or around the sides of the container, any trace of mold indicates that the buttermilk is spoiled and should be discarded.
  • Buttermilk should be readily pourable, therefore if it has thickened to the point that it will not pour from the container, or if it has a clumpy texture or a curdled look, it has deteriorated. Fresh buttermilk has a smooth, thick, and creamy texture, but bear in mind that a few little lumps or a slightly uneven look is very typical for buttermilk.
  • Is it up to the nose test? Although buttermilk has a naturally somewhat tangy flavor and scent, detecting strong aromas of sourness and pungency is a crucial signal that you have sour buttermilk. A new container of buttermilk will have a distinct but not offensive aroma, however an unpleasant odor will emerge as the product matures and spoils.

How to Store Buttermilk

Stick to these crucial storage guidelines to maintain buttermilk’s wonderfully balanced rich but sour flavor and keep it safe to use for as long as possible beyond the sell by date.

First and foremost, whether your buttermilk is conventional, cultured, or powdered, keep it well packed! It is critical to use an airtight container. Additionally, remember to maintain the cap clean and reinstall it tightly after each use.

Store buttermilk in a temperature stable region of the fridge, away from the door (and especially not on those handy door shelves! ), since this can create excessive periods of warming and cooling. Additionally, avoid putting any warm items near your buttermilk or any other dairy milk, such as leftovers that are still cooling or that carafe of hot coffee you’re chilling for iced lattes.

These instructions also apply to powdered buttermilk. Although refrigeration is not required, it is certainly your best choice for extending the shelf life of buttermilk powder for as long as feasible.

Can You Freeze Buttermilk?

Yes! Buttermilk may be kept frozen for up to three months.

Freezing buttermilk is an excellent way to prolong its shelf life even more. Before freezing buttermilk, make sure it’s in good shape. You should not try to freeze expired buttermilk or buttermilk that has already begun to deteriorate. These circumstances will almost probably not change throughout the freezing process, and by the time you thaw it, the buttermilk may have gone sour, presenting a danger to you.

Keep in mind that the freezing and defrosting processes will affect the final texture of the buttermilk. As a result, it is advisable to utilize previously frozen buttermilk for baking and cooking exclusively. If you attempt to use it in sauces or dressings, the uneven texture may cause problems.

How to Freeze Buttermilk

To make things easier, you may store the buttermilk in its original container in the freezer, as long as there is 1-2 inches of headroom at the top. Since buttermilk expands as it freezes, this additional space is critical, and if there is not enough room at the top, the container may shatter and produce a mess!

Another option that may be more handy for you when it comes time to thaw is to pour the buttermilk onto an ice cube tray, then pop the cubes out and into freezer bags once solidly frozen. This allows you to thaw only one or a few cubes, depending on how much buttermilk your recipe requires.

How to Defrost Frozen Buttermilk

It couldn’t be simpler to defrost buttermilk! Just defrost the frozen buttermilk and store it in the refrigerator overnight. This is the simplest and safest method for defrosting almost anything.

But what if you need buttermilk right away? Set the sealed buttermilk container (or freezer bag) in a basin of cold water on the countertop. Then, every 20-30 minutes, refill the water until the buttermilk has completely defrosted. It may be tempting to use warm water to complete the task fast, but this sort of rapid heat promotes bacterial development, so be patient and resist the impulse!

If your buttermilk is in freezer bags, thoroughly inspect the bag to verify that no tears or pinholes have formed while it has been frozen, since this is a regular occurrence.

Another thing to keep in mind: thawed buttermilk will have an unavoidable strange and divided look. Don’t be concerned! This is typical after freezing, and you can quickly whisk the buttermilk back together once defrosted. It will never be the same, but it will be enough for baking and frying.

Ideas for Using Up Buttermilk (Before it Goes Bad!)

  • For supper, make a batch of ranch or creamy blue cheese dressing and serve it with a large chopped salad. Remember to include the sliced ham and chopped cooked eggs!
  • Make a batch of buttermilk biscuits, a pan of cornbread, or two pound cake loaves. These things freeze well and may be retrieved from the freezer as needed. For quick defrosting, freeze your pound cakes in solitary or double slices.
  • Breakfast for dinner? Make a batch of buttermilk pancakes or waffles and top them with fresh fruit. Do you want to indulge? Try these Pan Fried Cinnamon Bananas as a topping for pancakes or waffles.
  • Do you have a bag of potatoes on hand? Then you’ll have a great way to use up any extra buttermilk! Boil the peeled potatoes, then mash them with buttermilk and season with salt and black pepper.

Can You Make Your Own Buttermilk?

Well, the only genuine technique to produce homemade buttermilk is to make your own butter (a different subject for another day) and then keep the excess liquid. Yet, if you find yourself in a panic after finding that your buttermilk has gone bad, there is one simple, homemade substitution that will work extremely well!

Just add 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar into 1 cup milk and let aside for 10-15 minutes. In this brief amount of time, the milk will curdle somewhat and thicken, giving it a texture similar to buttermilk. Because of the acid, the milk will also have a faint sourness! Whenever you choose vinegar, bear in mind the tastes of the dish you’re using the combination for and avoid utilizing vinegars that are too flavored!

Does Buttermilk Go Bad? The Bottom Line

There are various things to consider while answering the question, “How long does buttermilk last?” You’re probably looking for information on that bottle of cultured buttermilk you bought at the grocery store, however the lifetime of regular buttermilk or buttermilk powder will be different.

If you have aged buttermilk in the fridge and want to know whether it is still excellent, it might be difficult since buttermilk tastes sour even when it is completely fresh! Signs of mold, an unpourable texture, or any unusually sour or unpleasant odor or taste should be avoided.

To avoid wasting perfectly delicious buttermilk, you may simply freeze it so that you have some on hand whenever you need it. The best way to use up buttermilk, though, is to be creative and try out a new dish or two. You could even discover a new favorite!


Is it OK to use expired buttermilk?

If kept refrigerated, buttermilk will keep for approximately a week beyond its expiry date. This is because the fermentation in buttermilk allows it to remain longer.

How long does buttermilk last after expiration date?

Buttermilk Storage Life

It is also possible to freeze it for up to three months. Bear in mind that the buttermilk may have been mistreated during delivery or at the shop, or it may have been left out at room temperature. In this instance, it may spoil sooner than two weeks after its expiration date.

What can I do with old buttermilk?

Here are five dishes and five strategies for using up leftover buttermilk.
It’s great for baking.
Prepare some pancakes.
Create a smooth salad dressing.
Use it to make frozen delights.
Dinner should consist of fried chicken and coleslaw.
The Kitchn has more Buttermilk Tips & Techniques.
Mar 4, 2014

What does bad buttermilk smell like?

The Scent: Strong Smell

After the buttermilk has deteriorated and a few days have elapsed, it will have a distinct and sour odor that is a dead giveaway.

Can you use spoiled milk for buttermilk?

Dan Barber enjoys using sour milk in his cookery. “It’s a buttermilk alternative,” he explains. “It may be used in pancake or biscuit batter.” You can’t even taste the sour!

What is the difference between buttermilk and spoiled milk?

Buttermilk is not the same as sour milk.

Buttermilk is either purposely cultivated to have a sour flavor or is a byproduct of butter production. If raw milk sour, it is absolutely safe to drink, and this is how the majority of the world consumes milk. But, if pasteurized milk soured, it was already spoiled.

How can I tell if buttermilk is bad?

If you notice any changes in your buttermilk, such as a change in smell, texture, color, or mold development, it’s time to toss it away.
Apart from the expiry date, additional indications that your buttermilk has gone bad include thickening or chunks.
Mold is apparent.
smells strongly.
Feb 4, 2019

What can I substitute for buttermilk?

To generate a dairy-based buttermilk alternative, combine milk with an acidic ingredient, such as lemon juice, vinegar, or cream of tartar. Plain yogurt, sour cream, kefir, or buttermilk powder may also be used.

Can I make my own buttermilk?

How to Make Buttermilk in 10 Minutes
Make use of milk: Fill a liquid measuring cup halfway with 1 cup whole or 2% milk.
Including an acid: 1 tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar for every 1 cup milk…
Ready to go: The acid will gently curdle the milk.
Oct 19, 2021

Can you freeze buttermilk for later use?

The simple answer is Yeah! Buttermilk is safe to freeze and freezes quite well. Several dairy-based products freeze poorly. When frozen, they split and create a gritty texture.

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