How to Make Raw Milk Buttermilk

When using raw milk to make buttermilk, there are several factors to consider. How will the bacteria content of the raw milk affect the buttermilk culture? What is the consistency of raw milk buttermilk? What are the potential risks?

Following the discussion of these special considerations are links to detailed instructions for making raw milk buttermilk.


Special Considerations when Making Raw Milk Buttermilk

Making buttermilk with raw milk differs from using pasteurized milk, and several factors should be considered.

 

Perpetuation of the Culture. Our direct-set Buttermilk and Sour Cream Starter is meant to be used once, while our Heirloom Buttermilk Culture is meant to be perpetuated from batch-to-batch.

If using a perpetuating culture, it is necessary to first make a pasteurized mother culture to inoculate each batch of raw milk buttermilk, to keep the starter healthy. 

Please note that buttermilk made from a direct-set starter and raw milk may not re-culture well.


Bacteria Content. We recommend using only fresh milk to make buttermilk. Raw milk comes with its own set of beneficial bacteria. If your milk is a few days old or wasn't chilled quickly enough, the bacterial count can be high. This means that the culture you introduce could have some hefty competition, which can lead to buttermilk with an “off” flavor or buttermilk that does not culture properly.

 

Consistency. Raw milk generally makes buttermilk that has a much thinner consistency than that made with pasteurized milk. 

To thicken raw milk buttermilk, drain whey from the buttermilk using butter muslin or a tight-weave cloth. 

Raw milk is not homogenized; therefore, as the milk cultures and the buttermilk sets, the cream will rise to the top. The top layer of the raw milk buttermilk will be more yellow and of a much thicker consistency. This layer can be scooped off and eaten alone or stirred back into the buttermilk.

 

Risk. Although most people who consume raw milk do not feel that raw milk is inherently dangerous, there are risks to everything and people have become ill from raw milk. It is also possible to become ill from pasteurized milk. Talk to your farmer, research, and decide if these risks are worth it.

 

INSTRUCTIONS FOR MAKING RAW MILK BUTTERMILK

To make raw milk buttermilk with our Direct-Set Buttermilk and Sour Cream Starter Culture, simply add 1 packet of the starter culture to the required amount of raw milk without heating.

To make raw milk buttermilk with our Heirloom Buttermilk Starter requires an extra step, to ensure the culture remains viable for re-culturing indefinitely.

The initial step of activating the starter requires heating the milk to 160ºF, to pasteurize it. If preferred, pasteurized store-bought milk may be used instead. In this case, proceed to step 3, Activating the Starter.

Avoid ultra-pasteurized or UHT milk.


I. ACTIVATING THE STARTER

  1. Slowly heat 1 quart raw milk to 160ºF
  2. Cool the milk to 70-77ºF.
  3. Transfer to a glass or plastic container.
  4. Add 1 packet buttermilk starter. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Cover with a towel or coffee filter, secured with a rubber band, or put a lid on the container.
  6. Place in a warm spot, 70º-77ºF, to culture.
  7. Check after 24 hours to see if it has set. If it has not set, leave up to 48 hours, checking every few hours.
  8. Once it has set, or at the end of 48 hours, cover with a tight lid and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  9. This buttermilk is the pure mother culture. Always use the pure mother culture as the starter culture for making raw milk buttermilk.

Even if the activation batch does not set after 48 hours, it is still cultured and can be used to make subsequent batches of buttermilk.


II. MAKING RAW MILK BUTTERMILK

  1. Put 1 quart raw milk into a glass or plastic container.
  2. Add ¼ cup pasteurized mother culture. Mix thoroughly. To make larger batches, use 1 tablespoon pasteurized mother culture per cup of milk, making up to ½ gallon per container.
  3. Cover with a towel or coffee filter, secured with a rubber band, or put a lid on the container.
  4. Place in a warm spot, 70º-77ºF, to culture for 12-18 hours.
  5. Check every few hours by tilting the jar gently. If the buttermilk moves away from the side of the jar in one mass, instead of running up the side, it is finished culturing.
  6. Once it has set, cover with a tight lid and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
  7. The cultured buttermilk can now be eaten.

 

III. MAKING A NEW BATCH OF PASTEURIZED MOTHER CULTURE

  1. Slowly heat 1 cup raw milk to 160ºF
  2. Cool the milk to 70-77ºF.
  3. Transfer to a glass or plastic container.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon pasteurized mother culture. Mix thoroughly. To make larger batches, use 1 tablespoon pasteurized mother culture per cup of milk, making up to ½ gallon per container.
  5. Cover with a towel or coffee filter, secured with a rubber band, or put a lid on the container.
  6. Place in a warm spot, 70º-77ºF, to culture.
  7. Check after 12 hours to see if it has set. If it has not set, leave up to 18 hours, checking every few hours.
  8. Once it has set, cover with a tight lid and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.

Once every 7 days, use the pasteurized mother culture to make a new batch of pasteurized mother culture.

Ready to learn more?

 

         
 SMJ  
How to Make Raw Milk Buttermilk


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